Sunday, May 12, 2013

GSMNP Rewind: Part 2 5/4/2013-5/6/2013

Wings and I made it to Clingman's Dome at 10:30 after the short 5.5 mile hike along the cold, windy and wet ridge. Because it was so foggy, we decided not to hike up the ramp of man-made structure which capped Clingman's Dome. Instead, we followed the half-mile paved path down to the Visitor's Center to hopefully warm up and find a ride down to the town of Gatlinburg, TN, about 30 miles away.

The Visitor's Center was filled with out of town tourists, who were presumably staying in Gatlinburg. Wings and I looked out of place, as we entered the building with full rain gear and large packs on our backs. We began speaking to the helpful staff about ride options for getting in to Gatlinburg. Our choices were few, and seemed a bit expensive. About 15 minutes after our arrival, a couple in their early 60's entered the Visitor's Center. We had said hello to them as we passed them about 30 minutes earlier. We spoke for a minute about the weather and lack of a view, then Wings casually asked if they were headed to Gatlinburg. They confirmed they were and offered us a ride. We immediately accepted and hopped in their Prius with their dog. They had driven down from Indianapolis for the week to enjoy the Smokies. After the half-hour drive down to Gatlinburg, our 'trail angels' dropped us off at the NOC outfitter on the edge of town. We then headed over to the Wild Boar Saloon for a burger and a few beers. I was so excited to see Kyle when she showed up about an hour later. We drove west to Knoxville where Kyle had a loft in a converted schoolhouse close to downtown. She showed me around her place, then to the guest room where she had left a towel with soap, shampoo and conditioner. I took a quick shower, threw my clothes in the laundry and had a drink while catching up with Kyle. I felt right at home. That evening we went downtown with her neighbor Justin to grab some dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe, a semi-upscale southern-style restaurant in the Market District. I had the shrimp and grits, which was delicious, and a nice contrast to the processed trail food I had now become accustomed to eating. The next morning I was able to catch up on some journal entries I had neglected for a few days prior. Afterwards, Kyle and I went to brunch at Shuck Raw Bar for oysters and bloody mary's. We were still hungry and decided to order more food from the menu of the restaurant next door, which was under the same ownership. We had a smorgasbord of foods and had a great time hanging out while the rain fell outside.

I spent the rest of the day relaxing at Kyle's place before going out to have Mexican food for dinner with Justin and another neighbor, Michael. Now it sounds like all we did was eat, but sometimes the best memories are created while sharing meals with people you care about.

Kyle took me back to Gatlinburg before going to work on Monday morning. It was a quick, but great break from the trail. I met back up with Gronk, Bonjour, and many other familiar hikers at the Grand Prix Motel as we waited for our turn to get on the shuttle to take us back up to Clingman's Dome to resume our hike where we left off...


  1. Yes, it does sound like all you did was eat! But you are right, great memories usually involve food, especially if you are with family. It sounds like you two really enjoyed seeing each other, it's been almost three years, right?
    We all went up to Clingman's Dome when we stayed in Gatlinburg...remember the hotel with the stream right outside the balconies?
    Thanks for all the details....can't wait to hear more. Hey, I'm glad you are using the journal!

  2. You did just eat!! I love that though!! Glad you guys had fun together. Love you!

  3. MacGyver, It was a treat walking with you for the last couple of weeks.It is impossible to predict anyone's success but I think you have what it takes to do the whole enchilada. I know its not easy but you can do it.
    I'm looking forward to following your progress.
    Thanks for your friendship and for good memories. I am continually impressed with the wonderful people you meet on the trail and you are definitely among them. I wish you the very best of success.
    Happy trails,