Day 26: May 10, 2022 Standing Bear to Cherry Cr Elevation Profile +4580/-2205 12.4 Miles; Total 253.9 Miles

I woke up with the sun, as I layed in my beautiful bunk bed. Standing Bear Hostel was pleasantly delightful. As I checked out, I talked with Jarrod about the history of this place. He said originally the property was used for growing Tobacco. As time went on, they built the Bunkhouse which housed the employees that were constructing Highway 40. And there was always a handful of good ole southerners, that made Moonshine. In fact the galvanized drums (pictured below) caused drinkers to become crazy and blind. It had nothing to do with the liquor, we’ll maybe a little, but the galvanized steel that was the so-called culprit.

Galvanized Steel Moonshine Distillery

Blue and I had a later start than usual. Of course, we had to make up the 4500’ of descent we lost yesterday so up, up and more up today. As we took our typical morning break, I met a 16 year old boy named Winston. He was all smiles as he was backpacking with his Mom. I had to stop him and ask if he was having fun? He said he loves backpacking. He enjoys setting up his tent and cooking at night, and he just likes being outside! Way to go Mom in getting your son away from the computer and exploring the great outdoors. He was adorable and actually allowed me to videotape him about his escapades. Super cool teen.

16 year old Winston

We had such an epic day. Once our first climb was done, we were atop Snowbird Peak. It had a communication tower on top of the mountain which explained the best cellular service on the AT to this point. And the views were pretty darn spectacular too. Ricky Bobby and Mark caught up with us and we all awed at the views of the Smokey’s. This was the best view of the National Park I’ve had. The sky was clear, and the wind blew out any haze that we have had in the past. It was pristine!

Me with Ricky Bobby, the Canadian Nurse

The men took off leaving Blue and I in the dust. This happens fairly regularly as we are a bit slower in our daily journeys. I tend to talk to everyone I meet while others are in such a hurry to get to the same place we are all going. Today as we were walking, I timed our miles. After climbing over 1000’ and hiking one hour, we covered 2.25 miles. In my calculations that equates to 3.25 miles because of the 1000’ climb. Seems like we are doing just fine!

Views of the Smokey’s We Left Behind

Today brought me to tears. As I was hiking, the trail was lined with flowers for pretty much the entire day. I was talking with God and said this must be what heaven is going to look like. He laughed and said, “You haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait!” Honestly, I have walked in many incredibly beautiful places in my lifetime. I’ve seen incredible sights from mountains, to valleys, to deserts to peaks. But I don’t think I have ever seen a more intense display of flowers. It never ends. Since we were in the Smokey’s, the vast amount of color just boggles my mind! There is something magical about this stretch of trail. It just makes me appreciate how creative of God is!

Flower Lined Trail

Blue and I hiked as far as we could today. We stopped short of Max Patch. The day was perfect in so many ways. The weather was nice, warm but not hot. The breeze was light enough to cool you down on the climbs. The shade was welcoming and the flowers were on full display. I can only surmise that the Garden of Eden was what I walked through today. If I could bring you here, if you could see the beauty, hear the birds, smell the earth, then you would understand the tears I had today. I haven’t been so moved by a place since I was in Nepal. And that says a lot if you truly know me. What a garden I saw!

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