Day 102 (Clingman’s Dome to Fontana Dam)

After breakfast, Susan K. and Laura S. drove Laura P., Molly F. and me up to Clingman’s Dome. It was in the clouds again this morning. We headed off down the 0.6 mile trail that intersects with the AT.

My knee was pretty sore from my fall yesterday. Amazingly enough, this is the first day in 102 days that I’ve been in any kind of pain other than a little tired feet discomfort. I’ve been very lucky. My knee functions fine, it is just bruised. It was good on the flats and up hills but wasn’t happy on the descents. Since we were losing around 5000 ft on elevation through out the day, this was a challenge.

It rained a lot of the morning but the temperatures were warm so it was kind of pleasant. It stopped raining in the afternoon and we were able to enjoy some views. I’m so glad that Molly and Laura could join me for this section. Molly made some yummy treats for us to eat. 🙂

We saw 2 bears in the afternoon. These were the first bears Molly had seen. Cool! My thru hike bear count is now up to 24. It was a long day and we ended up needing to use our headlamps for the last couple of miles. When we arrived at Fontana Dam, we found Laura P’s car that Susan K. and Laura S. had shuttled for us. They also drove my car to the Nantahala Outdoor Center where we will end tomorrow. They were awesome Trail Angels!!!! Thank you bunches Susan K. and Laura S.!

Laura, Molly and I drove back to the Waffle House in Cherokee for dinner. The waitress and cook recognized us from the night before and were happy to see us again. Haha. Thank you Molly and Laura P. for a fun day in the Smokies.

Day 101 (Newfound Gap to Pigeon River Bridge)

My sister Laura arrived last night after dinner. We woke up early and met Susan K. and Laura S. at the continental breakfast. Yes, it is Susan, Susan, Laura and Laura today. Good thing I go by the name Cashmere these days or it could get confusing. 🙂

After breakfast, Susan K. and Laura S. took us up to Newfound Gap to start our hike northbound. After completing this section I will have hiked the whole AT but will still have 100 miles to hike to be a thru hiker (all in one year).

I was so happy that the clouds receded so that we could enjoy the view at Charlie’s Bunion. Mid day, we were going down a rocky descent and I caught my toe on a rock. I’ve only had three other hard falls this summer but was lucky enough not to be injured. This one could have been much worse but I still managed to bang up one of my knees pretty good. After a break, we continued down the trail. My knee didn’t feel too bad but I’m wondering how it will be tomorrow.

Susan K. and Laura S. shuttled my car to the Pigeon River Bridge. It took us a little bit to find the parking lot. I really appreciate their help and glad they had a fun day horseback riding. By the time we drove back to the hotel in Cherokee, Molly was there. The three of us enjoyed dinner at the Waffle House nearby. Yum! smile emoticon Got to fuel up for tomorrow.

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Day 100 (Clingman’s Dome to Newfound Gap)

I need to be a trail angel about a million more times to repay the universe for all the trail angel treats I’ve received this summer.Cashmere

I had the pleasure of running with Bruce Fox today. We met up at Newfound Gap at noon and drove together up to Clingman’s Dome. It was very cloudy when we started so no reason to go up the tower since there would be no views. Luckily, the weather only sprinkled on us for a couple minutes and it cleared up as we ran.

The trail near Clingman’s Dome reminds me of some of the AT in the northeast with lots of moss, ferns, and fir trees. Bruce and I had a fun time getting to know one another better as we ran down the mountain.

After we ran, Bruce drove me back up to get my car. I was able to be a trail angel and help a section hiker get back to their car. He was a retired physics professor from UT that hikes the trail a lot. I need to be a trail angel about a million more times to repay the universe for all the trail angel treats I’ve received this summer. 🙂

Next, I went to Cherokee to check in to the hotel for a shower and a nap before joining Susan K. and Laura S. (Trail Angels!) for dinner.