Today was an absolutely beautiful day to be hiking. Last night it did rain very hard with thunder and lightning and the people in tents did not all fare that well. The day dawned sunny and warm though. We headed out to Charlie’s Bunion, which is a cool rocky area with great views. It was in a cloud when we got there but we hung around and the clouds kept shifting and giving us really interesting views. I got some great photos on my camera that I’ll share later.
We were walking on ridges for most of the day. There were actually great views all along the trail today, at least on the east side. The west side was mostly still in a cloud. We were walking through what I think of as fairy tale forest though, everything just super saturated in green and moss and ferns with that great evergreen smell. Most of the trail itself was a stream today, not just standing water, but flowing water. I managed to keep my feet mostly dry for the majority of the day though. There were also a bunch of fresh blow downs from the storm we had to climb over or crawl under.
We did 12.6 miles to the Tri-Corner Knob Shelter and I have a spot inside. The ridgerunner here told us that section hikers with reservations do not have priority over thru hikers in the shelters unless they show up without a tent. That makes sense since we also paid to be here. A lot of thru hikers ended up in the rain last night though so that would have been good information to have earlier.
Since we are required to stay at shelters while in the Smokies it makes for a choice between really short or really long days sometimes. I should be out tomorrow evening or the next morning and then I’ll be free to camp anywhere again. I also plan on avoiding shelters for a while once we get out since there is a norovirus outbreak among hikers between Hot Springs and Erwin. I don’t want to have to touch anything that anyone else has touched until I’m way past the infected area.
Knee update: My left knee is totally back to normal and in town I had no pain at all no matter how I moved it. Once I put my heavy pack on though, both of my knees immediately feel it. So that will just be normal from now on.