Day 18 – South of Indian Grave Gap to Peck’s corner shelter

What a difference a month makes! Everything is in bloom and the weather was amazing.

I started the morning at the Laughing Heart hostel in Hot Springs. I was leaving too early to get breakfast there so I moved my car to trail parking behind the hostel, grabbed my bag and walked down to the Smoky Mountain diner. On the walk down I ran into the most terrifying wildlife I’ve encountered yet…a skunk. 😆. It evaluated me for a few moments then decided to head in the other direction. That would have been an interesting restart.

The shuttle picked me up right on time at 7 and we started the 2+ hour drive. Once we got here, I had my shuttle driver drop me off close to where I jumped on the road last month (I was struggling to make it down the hill on trail in time to meet my shuttle driver to get to Gatlinburg so took the road for the last bit) and then road walked back up to where my GPS track had last shown me on the trail. It was cool to start (I could see my breath) and I’d forgotten that I’d left a pine forest.

I made my way down to Newfound gap a little before noon and it started to warm up, so I took a quick break in the tourist area. There were a few through hikers hanging out, but none I knew of course. I did meet someone at the shelter tonight that’s been on trail since they started other than zeros and started 5 days after me.

The rest of the day was pretty easy. A little over 14 miles and less than 3k of climb. There were a lot of narrow ridge walks so the views were great, especially since the weather was so clear. Looks like pretty strong rain tomorrow, so will need to make adjustments.






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