Albany, NY police circa 1955
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The Great Smoky Mountains, Rocky Top
Standing Indian in Western NC, That is where we were camping. WE always walk when camp so we climbed to the top of Standing Indian Mountain. It is the highest peak on the Appalachian Trail south of the Smokies. SO, we SAW THE TRAIL!
That is where the dream of hiking the trail was born in SHERRY’s mind. When that girl really gets an idea she is like a hound dog worrying a bone. She is gonna get-R-done. I got onboard since she had followed me over a good part of the world, it was my time to follow.
WE researched, bought gear, and after a false start of 100 miles, we finally decided to DO IT for real.
Fast Forward about a year another start, WE reached Fontana Dam, the beginning of the near 90 miles thru the Smokies. It takes the younger hikers 5-7 days. In our mid 60’s we planned 11 and had the food for it. Shelters are about every 7-10 miles.
It is a great hike, it crosses the highest point on the AT, Clingman’s Dome. But before you get there you sleep a couple nights. Awaking one morning after 6 days on the trail 3 days into the Smokies. Sherry was down at an ‘out house’. I was scruffy looking, sitting on a log, when up walks a newlywed couple on a day hike from Cade’s Cove, fresh and spiffied up. They were caught aback, running into a real weird guy sitting on a log in front of a strange structure (the shelter). The young lady walks over and asks, “Do you live here?” I shoulda pulled her leg a little but I explained we were hiking the AT.
“You mean you are planning to walk from here to Tennessee?” (The end of the Smokies)
“I said no, we plan to walk to Maine, that is about 2,000 miles further up the road.” They walked off shaking their heads.
Later that day we meet two sisters hiking South. One had just finished cancer treatment and they were hiking the trail for self-confidence.
There are thousands of reasons why people walk the 2,270 miles.
Later Sherry said, “Our next Mountain is Rocky Top.” I couldn’t wait. I had heard and tried to sing with John Denver. I am ready for this. There is a familiar term among hikers, ‘False Summit.’ (That is when you are tired of climbing and THINK you are finally at the top, but you ain’t!)
I think I sat three times and sang two lines I know of that song, then realized I had wasted my breath. I thought we would never reach the REAL top of ROCKY TOP! LOL. I did have an excuse, we were in a cloud the whole time.
The Smokies are an American Treasure.