May 9 - Sunny, warm and humid, and out of the Smokies.
Many hikers, when asked what they'd do differently if they hiked the A.T. again say they'd spend less time in trail towns, probably because they over consumed and spent too much money.
But I thoroughly enjoyed coming into town yesterday. After walking two days in mist and fog totally disoriented, it was a pleasure to come back into civilization while getting reoriented to where we were. There are those who just hike the green tunnel for the sake of the hike but I find it more important to know where I am in relation to the geography and to meet the people. It's part of the fun of travel.
We had a great talk with several locals, from the cab driver who picked us up (eventually), to the guy at Walmart from whom we Yogied* a ride back to the hotel, to the waitress who opened up to two old geezers and wondered if she should have a child to keep her 8 year old company. She was 27 and called us everything from Shugga to Honey to Bay (for Babe). Going to town, for me at least, is much more than just a hot shower and resupply.
Today, Bonjour and I had a breakfast biscuits and coffee at Hardee's and Bonjour fixed my glasses with Superglue that I bought at Walmart. Then we called the cab to take us the 20 miles back up the mountain.
It was a beautiful sunny day and soon we were sweating it up, climbing out of Davenport Gap. The forest was still wet from last night's storm and the humidity was up. I changed into a short sleeved shirt at one point and filled that one with sweat too.
We started the day with a five mile climb and were rewarded with a 360 degree vista at the top because the mountain topped out on a "bald" which means there were no trees to block the view. Balds seem to be somewhat of a mystery here.
The mountain was Sunbird I think - I lost my snipped out Guide pages which had the trail from Davenport to Hot Springs - the only down part of the day - so I'm not sure exactly where I am. At the top was an FAA beacon with US Government signs warning everyone to stay out. It was a perfect stopping spot for lunch.
We walked about 11 miles and are camped between shelters. It's good to be swinging in the hammock again! I'm using the bug net for the first time because of biting blackfly-type critters. As I type this, they are out there, banging into my tarp so frequently it sounds like it's raining. It ought to be a warm night. It's 7:50 right now and 20C. The terrain and vegetation has changed and with the higher temps we know we're out of the Smokies, even though we're camped at 3500 feet.
* To "Yogi" something on the AT means to use Yogi Bear's techniques to get something like a free ride or free food from someone willing to give it to you.
Here are Bonjour, Wings, and Stitch and another guy, resting beside a stream on a nice part of the AT.