Day 21: May 5, 2022 Mt Collins to Newfound Gap Elevation Profile +532/-1531 4.9 Miles; Total 207.7 Miles

What a wonderful morning. We only had five miles to hike out, so sleeping in was on the agenda. The issue is my body clock is up and rearing at 5:45am. So I laid in my tent, listening to everyone else getting up, packing and leaving. What a concept. Since Day One, I have nearly always been the first one up and out of camp.

Locked and Loaded- Enroute to Gatlinburg

I made coffee in the tent, cleaned up all my gear, wiped down the dirt, mud and muck off my tent and then, just milled around, with nothing much to do. I told Blue I was wearing my Town Clothes. She was a bit shocked as she really didn’t have town clothes but pulled something together. She wore her leggings, sports bra and pile shirt. I wore my leggings, a tank top and wind jacket. We looked smashing. So good that even a day hiker commented on how stylish we appeared for nasty thru-hikers! What a compliment for the two of us that smelled to high heaven.

Rootball from Large Fallen Redwood

The weather was perfect. The sun was shining and the temperature was ideal for hiking. Not too hot and not too cool. We saw a few other hikers heading to town. Everyone was in high spirits and ready to enjoy town food, town beds and town laundry. Gatlinburg was our next stopping place.

Custom without Town Clothes

My friends from Tennessee, Ron and Elisa were headed our way to whisk us off trail and take us to the local whiskey bars. Before all that, I had a splendid idea. Let’s head up to Clingmans Dome, while it’s a mostly clear day and see what we missed yesterday. While we were waiting at Newfound Gap, I reminisced of the time my Mom and Grandma-Mom passed through 40 years ago. They stopped and took a picture at Newfound Gap with the Appalachian Trail sign behind them. 2000 miles from Maine to Georgia. Oh how I wish they were here to see me now! In spirit.

Mom and Grandma-Mom at Newfound Gap May 1983

We met a couple of trail angels from Maine while we were waiting, Navigator and Ole Man. They own the AT Lodge in Millinocket and were passing out trail magic to all the hikers. PBR, Seltzer Water, Fruit and M&M’s. We sat and talked with them for a spell until my true Trail Angels arrived. On the roadside, we stopped and saw this beautiful creature, Mr. Bear. Not to be confused with Mr. Black Bear on the Wanted Poster. This Mr. Bear was forging grass, weeds, and dandelions. Not Twinkie’s, Moon-pies or Top Ramen!

Mr Bear on our way to Clingmans Dome

Ron and Elisa took us away and we were off to Clingmans Dome for Round Two. This time we could see all the way to Georgia or at least it seemed that way. There were so many tourists there. I ran into a bunch of thru-hikers I knew from weeks ago. It was great catching up with everyone. It seems we are never too far ahead or behind our trail family’s.

Blue, Me and Elisa on top of Clingmans Dome

Once we captured all the videos and pictures I could obtain, we headed to Gatlinburg. We checked into the first hotel we found, Days Inn and received a complimentary upgrade to a poolside room. None of us had bathing suits but appreciated the nice location. Honestly all I was looking for was a shower, flush toilets and pillows. I had all three and a room with a view!

Blue Making a Hair Reef out of Dandelions

We showered, then headed to the Steak House across the street. I asked the waiter for his recommendation and he said, Rib-Eye and that’s what I had. Along with all-you-can-eat Salad Bar, Baked Potato with all the fixings and a Mojito! I was in heaven. After eating half of what my eyes thought I could, I waddled out with a mighty full and content belly.

Elisa and Ron Showing us Hikers the Highlights of Gatlinburg Can You Say “Moonshine”

Ron and Elisa were ready for the true business of Gatlinburg, Whisky Tasting. They are connoisseurs of fine things like Whiskey and Bourbon. We headed to Ole Smokey, known for all things whiskey and more. We bellied up to the bar and Shysti was our pourer. What a cutie. She starts with Whiskey-Soaked Pickles in our shot glasses. That was a kickstart. We tasted all sorts of flavored whiskeys from Strawberry-Amoretto to Rootbeer to Manjo-Jalapeño, you name it, we tried it. Poor Blue was ready to fall on her face as she’s not a drinker and would’ve never thought of going to a Whiskey Bar. Don’t tell Alan as he will never let me take his wife on a so-called hike again!

Shysti Crum – Local Girl Turned Whiskey Pourer

After our tastings, I was ready to head back to our room with a bed and fluffy pillows. Blue and I walked back as it was a good way to sober up. We ran into a few trail friends who were quite surprised being we had town clothes on, clean smelling and did not look like the gals of the trail. One kid I ran into Custom, asked where he knew me from? I’m Geisha Girl. We just talked last night and this morning on the trail. He couldn’t believe what a shower and a pair of jeans can do to one stinky hiker. Now I really know what I must smell like and look like while I’m hiking out in the woods.

Custom and Geisha Girl, aka Kelly

We’ve decided to hang out in Gatlinburg for a couple of days being a severe storm warning has been predicted. Rain, hail, wind with a possible tornado! What??? I did not sign up for tornados! So Blue and I will suffer through a day of laundry, more whiskey tasting and lounging by the covered pool. Life is tough for wannabe thru-hikers…

6 thoughts on “Day 21: May 5, 2022 Mt Collins to Newfound Gap Elevation Profile +532/-1531 4.9 Miles; Total 207.7 Miles

  1. Kelly I’m obsessed with reading your blog daily. Such a great testimony to our Great God who is using you out on the trail and keeping you safe with sweet angels along the way.
    I love the picture of your mom and grandma. You look so much like your beautiful mom..
    God bless and be safe 🙏
    Jayne Finkbohner

    Liked by 1 person

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