Day two had us all up early, as it was to be our most strenuous day of hiking. Unfortunately, along with enthusiasm for the 8-mile trek ahead, I woke up with a cold. After coffee/juicepack and a delicious breakfast consisting of fresh eggs and handmade bread (a daily courtesy of our amazing hosts at Camp GRITS), we were on our way!
Our first stop was the Sugarlands Visitor Center just inside the Gatlinburg entrance to the Park. This Visitor Center has a little bit of everything related to the Smokies, and is a fun and informative introduction:
We made it to the Newfound Gap parking lot before noon for what we assumed would be a 6-7 hour hike on the Appalachian Trail to Charlie’s Bunion. However, between my cold and Harper wanting to be carried for more than a third of the distance (4olb kiddo plus 30lb camera pack), we took at least 8 hours before finally stumbling back out onto the parking lot after dark. Was it worth it? Absolutely! The hike, though strenuous, is really not THAT tough; even carrying H, we would have made far quicker time had I not been sick. Luckily, this was to be the worst day of the cold for me.
Mandi and H at the Icewater Spring Shelter, a favorite stop for AT thru-hikers
Charlie’s Bunion (above and below)