Walking to the Smoky Mountains, Day 14, June 11
Tellico Plains/River to Bobs Bald 15.4 miles
Except for the last two miles, I couldn’t have had a better trail for the day’s conditions. Misty rainy all day very little visibility—walking across on of the numerous balds in these ranges, the fog obscured my view of the blaze markers set out to lead hikers through (at a distance I mistook a clump of daisies for a white diamond, but as it turned out they were perfectly placed). North of Tellico River the BMT maintenance crews have been active, so the path wasn’t overgrown (except those last two miles), which really made a difference as I was trying to keep my beat-up feet as dry as I could, a nearly impossible task given how much water is running out of these mountains. I’ve never seen so many streams and springs—little waterfalls, perfect places. And all that water supports amazing stands of now older trees, many with lower trunks carpeted in green moss. And of course mushrooms of all sizes, shapes and colors. In one area of downed logs, there were shelf mushrooms that looked like mussels growing from the wood.
Most of the middle of the day was following the same ridge as the Cherohala Skyway, a road incredibly popular with motorcycle riders, even on wet foggy days apparently, so things did get pretty loud at times. It reminded me of hiking the Appalachian trail with Bennett in this part of Tennessee and later in Virginia. You could always tell it was a weekend by the roar of the motorcycles. Of some concern are the bears the maintenance folks I met last week warned about. These next miles are a hot spot for bear activity— there are even a bunch of temporary signs tacked up at the trail intersections warning about them. I’m up high on a ridge miles from anyone, so used extra caution hanging bear bag high and far from camp. Let’s hope for a peaceful night’s sleep.