Our hope is to meet the needs of our guests, no matter what they are. Including guiding an oft-returning section-hiking guest, “Bear Repellent,” through the southern half of the Great Smoky Mountains. What follows is a text summary of the trip by Redline Guide Arlette Laan and after that we are featuring a photo/video compilation created with media from Arlette.
Day one had us start at Newfound Gap with the company of ‘Little Bird’ for the first few miles. We started off in pine forest and moss covered logs not unlike the Whites in New Hampshire. The trail however was a lot smoother and we made good progress towards Clingmans Dome. Once there we lucked out with good views over the park. It was chilly with the wind so we didn’t linger and I made my way down to Little Bird’s car. She had driven around with our extra food and gear so we had an easier climb up. Fully laden with all gear and food Bear Repellent and I continued our way to the first shelter. Regulations currently are such that you can tent out for social distancing so we did. It ensured more privacy and the weather was good.
Day two we enjoyed more good views and lots of wildflowers. We were a little worried about the upcoming storm blowing through so opted to stay in the shelter as Bear Repellent is fully vaccinated and we didn’t feel we would get a good night’s sleep in our tents. The wind was fierce and once the rain started coming down we felt very lucky to be protected.
Day three had us going over an exposed ridge summiting Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top. We were a bit worried about potential thunderstorms but luckily they didn’t materialize and we just had to put up with some rain. We were warned by three hikers in a row about challenging terrain ahead but having hiked in the Whites we had no trouble at all.
Day four had us walking mostly in the mist but we were still enjoying all the wildflowers and the mist made it all look magical. We made good time and got to our tent site early enough to have a leisurely afternoon.
Day five had us pack up soaking wet tents after a rainy night and we were grateful to be heading out. A bit sad, too, bittersweet, for the adventure to be over. We navigated the gradual downhill quickly and were met at Fontana Dam by Little Bird who drove Bear Repellant back to her car in Cherokee. Another 41 miles closer to finishing the Appalachian Trail! Congrats to Bear Repellant! —Arlette
Great job team. And good times were had. Thanks for letting Redline Guiding help.