Friday, August 10, 2007

Hike: Russell Field Shelter

Where to begin--the trip to Nashville convinced me I should definitely be walking right now, not anywhere near automobiles, so even though today wasn't the greatest hiking, well, it feels like home.

A big, big thank you to the folks at the Fontana Motel and even bigger thanks to the owner of Loving Care Kennels. She drove me (and Diva Dog) to Pigeon Forge and then dropped me off at the rental car place. There my troubles began. The car had windshield wipers that stopped on the upswing. Its air conditioner blew lukewarm air. It was an automatic and it stalled at a traffic light. And it died in Knoxville, less than an hour and a half after I picked it up, and part of that time I'd been on the shoulder, waiting for a hailstorm to pass. I left it with the tow-truck guy for the Pigeon Forge rental people to pick up, rented a new car from Enterprise and was on my way.

It was great to see my family all in one place, and it definitely made me proud to see my brother with diploma in hand, so it was worth it, but it was a long round trip. My parents left me off at the Fontana Hilton after midnight, a hiker again.

Note: being in a real city is almost easier than being in a Trail town--especially wearing town clothes. It's like being on vacation from hiking, not like racing around trying to fit "civilized" errands into your hiking schedule. I didn't really need the reminder of how much weight I'm losing, tho'--those clothes fit three weeks ago.

Alright--back to the hiking journal. It was a dry day and a sunny afternoon, for which I was grateful because it didn't look like it would go that way. The Trail seemed pretty quiet for a weekend--in fact, I'm alone in the shelter tonight--one other northbound thruhiker, a girl named Setback who has had a few, and a southbounder whose been on the Trail since June 16th. I can't even imagine, it's so different from the way I'm hiking. A few weekenders, but nothing like my first "I hate weekends" experience, which surprised me, considering it is the Smokies but I'll take what I can get.

I saw two deer today--no, 3, actually--and a lot of tracks in the Trail near (of course) Doe Knob. I also saw 3 horses, mounted by 2 humans. On the AT. I'd been warned, but it didn't make me any happier to have to hike over the trail they'd messed up.

Overall, I'm not too impressed with the Smokies--the trail, after the initial climb, was muddy and hard to slog through. Horses? People? Certainly overuse. There was a nice stretch of newly-cut trail after Ekanatha Gap that made me pretty happy, but I can't imagine it will stay that way for long --MC

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