Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina ~ Day 4

We drove back to Newfoundland Gap (where North Carolina & Tennessee meet) to hike a bit on the Appalachian Trail (AT). A bit about the AT ~ it is a 2,184 mile trail connecting Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. The trail passes through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.

We decided to do a four-mile one-way hike to Charlie’s Bunion (then, obviously, four miles back). We got a late start and didn’t get on the trail until 11am, which is about two hours later than we normally like to start. We were fortunately, however, as it was a cooler day, the trail was a bit shady, and the higher elevation (5,046’) kept things a bit cooler.

Backpackers often stay at various shelters along the AT and we came upon one about three miles into our hike ~ this is Icewater Spring Shelter. There were large flat wooden areas to sleep or hang-out in rough weather and a fireplace. There was also a large flat area for tents and more sleeping bags. 
Also provided was a water source (when not frozen), although one has to treat (i.e. boil) any water before drinking.

We passed a few wildflowers and in 2 ¼ hours arrived at Charlie’s Bunion ~ there were great views and many other day hikers enjoying a snack before making the trek back.
We headed back to the trailhead and clocked 4 hours and 20 minutes for the 8-mile hike, not too bad considering the stops for photos, snacks, restroom (i.e. nearest bush) and such.  This was definitely a great hike, and now we only have 2,180 miles to go! :-) 

Side note: So here’s something that Brad has overlooked and Suzanne has chosen not to remind him - A few years ago we did some day hikes in the Grand Canyon.  A couple years after those hikes, Brad came home from work one day to find Suzanne quite excited that we had secured backcountry passes to backpack the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim. He seemed to have no recollection that Suzanne mentioned this desire during those day hikes. Moral of the story…….ya never know when we might backpack a lot more of the AT (and neither does Brad).  :-)

Easy and affordable - no matter where you are! 

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