B+L: Power Bar,trail mix, jelly beans, Spam single, D: 2 Ramens + 2 Spam singles.

Sunny, north breeze 60’s

Derrick knob – (clingmon dome) – mt Collins shelter

Cold last night, w silk liner and drive- clime windshirt.

9am: We took off from Derrick Knob Shelter towards the famous Clingman’s Dome, the highest point on the AT, planning to stop just past that at Collin’s Shelter.

10am: Berg and I saw wild turkey on the trail. I used my iBird app’s turkey call to try and draw it in for a photo shot. No soap.

Silmple pleasures, peeing while traversing the mountain ridge, no aim, just free pee with a breeze, view of mountains, sound of mountain stream below. Yes, I really do text while I’m walking. At some point, face down in the mud or sliding off the trail side, I’ll regret this.

3pm: Berg and I are walking along the ridge line, one side NC the other TN, and Clingman’s Dome is near. You can see the dying trees from pollution, especially on the TN side. Sad. Despite this, it’s a spectacular view. I did a quick video noting colors for the view, took a reference pic and sketched it later at Collin’s Gap Shelter.

Met ranger just down from Clingman’s Dome. He checked park passes, talked gear, then we headed up to the tower. There were people everywhere following a paved trail up to the tower! Strange. I’ve experienced the feel of going to a city park and getting “lost in the woods”, but never being at home in the woods, then colliding with civilization so drastically. It was amazing how much I could smell the perfumes, colognes, even deodorants from all the line of people. I felt very aware of my excessive trail funk, so I walked up the spiral, round the circle and down in one swift, lingering move. Berg and I stopped to eat and wait for Littlefoot at base of tower. Unlnowingly, we sat right by “Active bears in area” sign. That was a mistake. “Oh my, active bears”, seeing us “Did you see any bears??”, or “…I’m safe as long as I’m faster than you (the overused joke)..”. I think I heard that joke in three different languages.

5pm: We’re at Collin’s Shelter, 4 miles from Newfound Gap. We’re going to catch a shuttle to Gatlinburg from there and split the cost of a Motel for tomorrow night. Shower, laundry … gonna be nice.

It’s hard to believe we’re half way through the Smokey Mountains already! I wish had phone reception! I’ll look forward to updating the blog tomorrow.

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