At HBF we’re proud to be supporting through prayer and Trail Magic packages the McCarthy trio; Bad Camel, Wrong Way Jalapeno and Popeye. Their journey so far has been filled with adventure and vistas many only dream of. Below is a recent update from them as they make their way through the Smokies. Hike by faith McCarthy’s!
Day 3 in the Smokies
This was an epic day with a lot to write about. Last night there were 9 of us at the shelter when 7 more boys showed up with a reservation for the shelter. When this happens, thru hikers essentially get kicked out of the shelter and have to set up their tent. The shelter has a capacity for 12, so 16 hikers was a bit much. Since it was not raining we were more than happy to grab our tents and get out of there. So, we still have yet to spend a night in a shelter!
We were hiking by 7 am because we knew it was going to rain today and wanted to get as many miles in as possible before the rain hit. We were a little unsure of our plans for the day because the 7 boys had told us they were staying at Silers Bald shelter tonight, which would have been an ideal days hike at 11.8 miles. We really didn’t want to be at the shelter with them, simply because there are so many of them. Add in the cold weather and that shelter would be packed. That only left us the option of going to Derrick Knob shelter (6.3 miles) or Double Spring Gap shelter (13.5 miles).
We got to Derrick Knob by 11:00 and I was really struggling already. My legs felt completely exhausted and I just had no energy. We had a hot breakfast and were discussing what to do. I didn’t feel like I could go the 13.5 to the last shelter but 6.3 miles is such a short day. While we were discussing/arguing about what to do, I overheard the 7 boys talking and it sounded like they were actually going to the Double Spring gap shelter. We asked the ‘leader’ of the group and he confirmed that the other boys did not know what they were talking about when they told us earlier that they were going to the Silers Bald shelter. This was immediately a huge relief to us and we packed up and headed towards the Silers Bald shelter. Just when we left the shelter the rain started. Hiking in the rain is truly miserable, you either wear your rain clothes and get soaked in sweat, or you don’t wear rain clothes and get soaked in rain. You also don’t want to stop for breaks unless you’re at a shelter so it’s more continuos hiking.
After hiking a ways, we came to a sign that said Silers Bald shelter 2.9 miles, Clingman’s Dome 7.4 miles. This is where the seed was planted to get to Clingman’s Dome and take a shuttle into Gatlinburg for a zero. We contemplated it for a while, knowing it would be a huge day. But the thought of getting out of the rain and having a Pizza Hut dinner, plus a day off was enough to motivate even me and my exhausted legs. This decision was even more confirmed when we got to Silers Bald shelter at 4:00 and it was completely full. We had a hot meal and moved on. Luckily, the rain stopped by the time we left the shelter.
It was a pretty easy hike to the next shelter, which was also very full and we took a ten minute break then continued on up Clingman’s Dome. Near the end of the hike we were all struggling and ready for it to end. Bad Camel said “come on body!” Willing herself to continue up the mountain, to which WWJ replied “who’s Bobby??” The rest of the hike we were joking that there was a Bobby who was helping us and is likely now to help us with the remaining 2000 miles.
Finally we reached the parking lot at 7:00 pm where our shuttle was waiting. A 40 minute ride into Gatlinburg and we arrived at the motel. We took a recommendation from another hiker on where to stay but the combination of Lysol/smoke smell and the pillows that could be filled with cantaloupes and be just as effective had us all sleeping in our sleeping bags and using our camp pillows. Even though the shower wasn’t the cleanest, it was actually a good shower and we were certainly glad to not be crammed into a shelter. We had a very late dinner (I ate 6 slices of pizza! Hiker hunger is kicking in) we were ready for bed after our 12 hr hiking day. Needless to say, we won’t be staying here tomorrow and have already made a reservation at the Bearskin Lodge.
We had a couple animal sighings today: I saw a bear cub running through the trees and we saw a large doe right by the trail. She wasn’t scared at all and just watched us walk by.
– Bad Camel, Wrong Way Jalapeno & Popeye