Walking to the Smoky Mountains, Day 15, June 12
Bobs Bald to Old Road Bed 13 miles
Yesterday evening it looked for a moment that the sun might finally break through the fog, but instead the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Shivering, I had to shelter early in my tent, digging deep into my sleeping bags or the first time on this trip. Soon the lightening came in with the thunder and it poured all night. Everything stayed more or less dry, but it’s all damp as usual (makes the pack heavier). The morning hike down to Tapoco lodge for lunch before continuing should have been a walk in the park. Instead I had 11 miles, most in fog and damp, with an overgrown trail— blackberry bushes as high as my head—glad they weren’t ripe given the bear situation. I couldn’t see the trail itself which makes for slow going as did the 7 miles down of washed out path, carefully picking my way down. Was exhausted by Tapoco, but stopped for mid-afternoon lunch. The place, like everywhere in these hills, was dominated by older motorcyclists. They form a dominant part of the economy. I relaxed a bit as the sun finally began to dry things off, then headed another two miles to get a bit closer to Fontana Village where I will resupply, and get my smoky mountains camp tickets, in prep for the final push. What a difference a day makes— the tent is hot tonight.
T. Hugh Crawford