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4/4/18 Day 255 AT Day 15: Clingman’s Dome to Gatlinburg, TN

Miles: 12? Steps: 36,038 Elevation Gain: Strava Knows Faith in Humanity: Two great ladies have Trail magic on a cold, rainy morning, warmed my heart, thank you!!! Should I just start all of these with “Wow, what an amazing day in the life I’m the AT??” Seems like I should! CRAZY storms last night! I found out later that there was a severe thunderstorm warning and tornado watch! Super loud and crazy rain, insane wind, the works. Good times. Woke up super early with the intention of summiting Clingman’s Dome for the sunrise with Bridget. We knew right away that it was not going to be the great vistas we’d hoped for, but rather a rainy, cold, foggy day. No worries though, we started hiking around 5:45am. We did summit around sunrise and had the cool UFO-like observation tower to ourselves in a blowing wind and rainstorm. We laughed, took a couple photos and continued on down the trail. Since Clingman’s Dome is the AT’s high point, the trail went downhill for quite a while. Since it was raining we started to get pretty cold. Brrrr! We ran into some amazing trail magic run by two women in their car at Indian Grave Gap. They had drinks, lots of snacks, bananas, etc. and were genuinely great folks! Thank you so much! Bridget’s hands were super cold so she got in their car to warm up, grabbed some hand warmers, struggled to put on gloves, etc. because her hands were so cold. A bit scary, but she warmed up and we quickly completed the last couple of miles to the road at Newfound Gap. We changed into dry clothes and quickly got a great hitch 15 Miles into Gatlinburg, TN. We got to ride in the bed of a pickup but they gave us a warm blanket and a warm, dry pair of gloves! The views were outstanding and really put into perspective how Deep in the park we really are on the AT! Gatlinburg! What a funny town! Super busy with spring Breakers we made our first goal to secure lodging. We walked to where the cheap motels were and found one that didn’t even have a name, just said “room” with a phone number, haha! $45 cash with no tax was certainly the cheapest in town, but it was so sketchy! We literally waited like 2 hours to even get in the room, occupying ourselves on the lobby couch. When we finally do get the room there’s a guy in it chipping wood chips onto the floor replacing the lock. We take showers and such carefully in the bathroom without soap, haha! Eventually he even proclaims he needs another tool that he needs to go to the store for and we have no doorknob whatsoever! What? Sketchy! Finally the door knob is on and next we have literally 5 people looking for the key! Finally we have put things locked in the room and can go out! Boy, did we go out! First up, some tasty burgers and fries, then we started a moonshine pub crawl! For $5 at 3 separate places we got to sample soooo many different kinds of moonshine and whisky! Absolutely crazy. Needless to say, we were quite tipsy! We ran into some other AT hikers and lots of fun was had! Next up: Bungeee jumping! We took an Uber down to Pigeon Forge and went bungee jumping! Haha, neither of us had been in our lives and honestly it was quite anticlimactic. It was fun and a bit scary, but only 65 feet high or so. Haha, at least we followed through on our goal to go bungee jumping! We made our way back to the hotel after a while and called it a night!

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