The weekend before Christmas the roads were closed going into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNL) due to ice and snow. On top of that the government shut down. I arrived in the parking lot late Friday night and camped inside my car to see what would happen with the gates. I planned several days of adventures throughout the park before getting together with family in Nashville. Well due to above problems my plans completely fell apart. I kept reading online that the road would never open again until the government reopened. So here I was, sitting at Dunkin Donuts exhausted from driving – I also said a few expletives as I careened my car away from the park and to Nashville. I figured the gates wouldn’t be opening soon and I thought I wouldn’t be going to the park this year. Which really sucked!
Fast forward to Christmas Day. I’m perusing webcams around the World (I love looking at various spots to see weather conditions etc) and I click the GSMNP webcam. And lo and behold, there are cars on the road! I jumped with glee. At first I couldn’t believe my sight. Then I saw people walking around – actual human beings at the top by Newfound Gap. Immediately I knew I was going the next day.
Boxing Day – hop in the Volt and take off. Get to the park around 9:30AM, pop 2 extra strength advil, and begin the hike. What a hike it was! Gorgeous weather graced us hikers that day – probably around 14°C in the sun and the sun was out all day. The hike was pretty long 24km and 1km vertical and was rated Hard on AllTrails however I thought it was super easy. Maybe I was much more prepared than normal.
It was a glorious hike that anyone living within 5 hours should attempt. The views along the entire trail are stunning. My favorite however was Clifftops. Got an amazing photograph there as the sun set. What ana amazing journey and so much fun. Then I walked down the mountain with cheer as I listened to The Carpenters Christmas album, whistling to the birds and animals “Silver Bells”.