Thursday–April 22, 2021
Location–Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tri Corner Knob Shelter, AT Mile 223.4
What a restful respitehere at Lodge of Legends! My body and spirit once again energized, I’m set for another go at this old trail. Julie (hiker, friend to hikers) comes promptly at eight, loads us, and we’re off to the winding climb back to Newfound Gap. A brief photo opp and we’re into the climb to Charlie’s Bunion. Then, more ups and downs past Laurel Top, Mount Sequoyah, Mount Chapman, before reaching Tri-Corner Knob Shelter–just shy of 6,000 feet. Folks used to live back in these mystic smoky mountains. That was years and years ago, before Great Smoky Mount National Park. They’re all gone now.
Ascending, we’re soon in the snow and ice of yesterday. The rocks, boulders, and roots–hard to imagine, could they be any more treacherous? Yet, climbing and descending the snow and ice–like a roll of the dice, odds are: We lose! Amazing though, through this magic, mystifying wonderland of ice cold brilliance we manage to remain upright! Deliberation, absolute and total concentration; there can be no urgency to move forward, though we must cover ground if we’re to reach shelter before nightfall. Camping by the trail anywhere along is strictly prohibited–and the rangers and trail runners keep a close check. Still, we must stop often to gaze in disbelief and ponder that which we look upon. Photo opp after photo opp, total overload–amazing!
Late evening, arriving Tri-Corner Knob Shelter, we find the shelter packed, every halfway flat tent spot taken up. We settle in to the least-sloped spot that remains–to get our camps set.
I remember something that my granny told me once
about these misty mountains of ours they call the Smokies.
Granny said God hung that haze on purpose,
to hide these hills from the folks up in Heaven who was raised here,
so they wouldn’t look down and be homesick.