A thru-hike is only a thru-hike if you actually thru-hike. That’s why we headed back south to finish hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail in the Appalachian Mountains. Unfortunately in April we had to leave the trail about half way in as John injured his back.
As the trail logistics are not that easy we decided to take the car, drive all the way down to North Carolina and park it at ‘Standing Bears Farming Hostel’, close to where the trail ends. From there we got a shuttle back to Tellico River Road in Tennessee where we have left the trail two month ago. Having arrived there around noon, we where looking forward to 2,5 days of hiking to Fontana Dam. Fontana Village is the starting point of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and as we planned on pushing through the park without getting resupply and also to give Johns back more rest, that will also be our location for a zero day.
Been back on trail was fantastic! Back to solitude, back to the endless deciduous trees of the southern Appalachians, but this time – as it is June/July – also back to high humidity, heat and many bugs.
I love the routine of walk – eat – sleep – and to enjoy the surroundings. And as easy it is for us to get back to that, however, it is not that easy to get back to having trail legs. But – the Smokies! Finally! The US’ most visited National Park, 11 mio visitors a year. But the very few people on trails are not giving these numbers away.
We had a splendid time with various sceneries from deciduous trees along the lakeshore of Fontana Lake, to wild creeks and finally to more pines trees on the ridge of the Smokies. Before descending from the ridge line we had quite spectacular views over the Smokies from Mt Sterling, that is the highest point of the BMT.
Arriving at the northern terminus the end was bittersweet: we were happy that we finally finished; happy to get a shower soon; happy that Johns back cooperated this time; happy to escape from heat, ticks, humidity; happy about the time we had on that trail together. But also upset that this trail and its trail life is over for now. But beyond the end of a trail always lies the start of another one. With that idea in mind we left the Smokies, looking forward to our road trip towards Shenandoah National Park.