Nick Klockenga

The Great Smoky Mountains

It took me a while to complete writing up my third week of trail activity. I'll try to make week 4 shorter, no promises though. During the third week I was hurting physically. My left knee was not improving the way I wanted it to be. I was taken ibuprofen and keeping the pain at bay, but I prefer to be off pain medication as I walk. I'll be taking a few days of rest next week (week 4) and have a strategy for getting better. But I'll have more details on that in my week 4 post. This week has gone by fast. I pushed hard through a lot of miles to get through the smokies.

I met a bunch of new hikers through the smokies. I pushed forward out of the hiker bubble I was in and into the next one. I've been hanging around these new hikers for a while. I've met a lot of cool new people.

Also along with meeting new people, I've been to a lot of neat places. I left Franklin, NC (aka Ron Haven town) and headed to Nantahala Outdoor Center. This place was really neat. I hope to be able to come back to there some summer for rafting. They also have a very affordable instructor classes that would be incredible to take part in. I spent a single night at the N.O.C. in a bunk house with a fellow hiker named Geo. It's always nice to stop for a shower and to get a few hot meals.

I left the N.O.C. and made my next goal the Fontana AT Crossing. I shuttled into the Fontana Dam Resort to the general store, bought a lot of food at the store and got a meal at the 'Pit Stop' (gas station) before shuttling back to the crossing. I decided not to spend the night in Fontana Dam Resort to save some money. I wanted to get into the Smoky Mountains as fast as possible since the weather was so nice.

Entering the Smokies was exciting. The smokies are legendary. The first day walking into the smokies out of fontana was excelent. The weather could not have been nicer. Ten miles in there was a very neat fire tower I was able to climb to the top and and take a few pictures. The tower was narrow and would sway gently in the wind.

When traveling in the Smokies your required to stay near the shelters. Because of this the shelters end up being pretty crowed. It's a good thing the weather was nice because it made 'cowboy' camping out side the shelter a good choice. I did not see any bears while I was in the Smokies, only a few deer and mice.

Half way through the Smokies I hitched a ride to Gatlinburg from New Found Gap. In this tourist town I stayed in very cheap motel. It was super nice, but only in comparison to dirt and a campfire. I spent two nights in town (taking a zero day) and recovered the brutal elevation of the smokies.

I made it through the smokies before the end of week 3. From New Found Gap it was mostly down hill. Once I made it through the smokies I stopped for the night at a very cool hostel named 'Standing Bear Farm'.

In addition to walking, I've really enjoyed stopping into the different towns along the way. The time outdoors is awesome but also being able to travel through these small towns along the east coast has been rewarding each time I stop for rest and resupply.