4/2/18 Day 253 AT Day 13: National Park #14!!!! Great Smoky Mountains

Miles: 19.3 Steps: 43,031 Elevation Gain: a lot of feet Faith in Humanity: Met so many great people today! Oh wow, another amazing and enchanted day on the AT! Seriously, it’s unreal out here. If you’re willing to put in a bit of sweat and pain to climb these mountains, the people are just top notch! Almost all are instantly trust-worthy, genuinely kind, open minded, great people. Come try it yourself and you’d be astounded how good it is! Started the day off chatting with Wiki. She’s awesome! A tattoo artist from Pittsburgh: a great attitude, and smart and great to talk to. We chatted about cool places we’ve visited, and life in general. Really hope I see her again down the trail! Next I hiked. One visitors center was closed and directly below the closed sign was an ice cream cooler! Haha, a cruel world we live in! Crossed the Fontana Dam and entered my 14th National Park of the trip: Great smoky Mountains. I took a photo and reflected on how the last 253 days of Walk The Parks has gone. Took a long time to go from the Grand Canyon (my most recent park) to here. 3 months in fact! And I didn’t get here how I originally intended either. I’m really happy with how the trip has morphed and still enjoying myself tremendously. I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve been unable to connect with communities and schools thus far, but have high confidence for the future. Maybe not in the immediate term, but the future nonetheless. Anyway, super excited for Park #14 and to tackle the Smokies!!!! Immediately, I ran into a ridge runner who told me two peoples tents were ripped apart last night by a bear and they closed the campsite. Not the most reassuring! Up the hill I went! A huge hill at that. I ran out of water and stop had over 1,000 vertical feet to climb to the water source. No big deal, but I was very excited to fill up and pound water once I was able to! There was a cool side trail to a fire tower that I took. I would say I really have minimal to no fear of heights, but that fire tower freaked me out a little! View was great from the top. At the top of a ridge I arrived at the shelter! Great people. Bridget guided myself and one other through a sun salutation yoga session which was great. Lots of talk around the fire. A great group of 4 loosely from Breckenridge that shared so much of their food with me and really inspired me to bring more vegetables on the trail. Broccoli, carrots, onions. I’m Excited to resupply and buy some! It’s funny to reread the previous paragraph and think how poorly it describes the greatness of the experience. Such a great vibe and happiness all around! The future holds great things, I can feel it!

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