RV Life: Smoky Mountains

Saturday April 20th 2019

Day 8

Another ordinary morning in a Walmart parking lot was all changed by a knock on the door, it was karma. Let me back track a minute here. I was explaining to Phoenix the dangers of strangers especially ones in white scary vans because there was a shady one parked further down the lot from us. Jason thought that was prejudice but I was like remember back at Glasgow they had an alert out for a white van attempting to pick up children. This mama ain’t taking chances.

Well low and behold who comes knocking on our door not even 30 minutes after this conversation, the people from the white van. He knocked on the door and we were hesitant to open the door so talked thru the window. Said stranger wanted to know what part of Wisconsin we were from. He proceeded with his memories from the state then his wife walked over. I saw a cop car on the other side of the lot so deemed it safe to step out. I then saw the whole picture a older man, no teeth, scraggly hair, jacket that looked to have not been washed in years, lounge pants printed with an eagle and bright flames going up the sides topped off with cowboy boots. The woman in an outfit again it seemed to not have been washed in years, no teeth and her first question to me was if we panhandled. I said no ma’am we are in fact just on a Easter weekend family vacation and heading for the smokies then back home. They became uneasy after that and quickly wrapped up the conversation. I go inside and my only sentence to Jason was, “karma came quick this time.”

Full of anticipation we headed for Smoky Mountain National Park unknowing of what we would encounter now as those people warned us of the rednecks in the area. My only knowledge of the smokies is the Appalachian Trail and the 70 miles of trail that run thru the park. Our destination to find more info was the Gatlinburg, Tennessee visitor center.

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Gatlinburg is the mecca of tourism, Wisconsin Dells ain’t got nothing on this place. For miles you are constantly looking left and right in hopes to catch all the fun and unique attractions. Thankfully the visitor center was after all that and far enough away to not even be tempted, money saved!

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As our luck would have it most of the Smokies roads were closed due to either rockfall or ice that included the road to the Clingman’s Dome, the highest point and what we were looking forward to doing. At this point we were directed to a good waterfall hike in the Cosby campground area. Future note to all visiting the smokies after leaving the welcome center you will then enter downtown Gatlinburg, a hell to drive through unless you take the Gatlinburg bypass. Overcrowded, small, tourist packed roads that took us almost 20 minutes to navigate through afraid of hitting our mirrors on every passing street sign. Finally making it thru we turn down 321.

Highway 321 to Cosby area is what I pictured the hills of Tennessee to look like. Adorable mom & pop shops, boiled peanut and market stands sporadically lined the road along with gorgeous scenery and of course run down abandoned buildings thrown in between.

Cosby campground is the more low key area of the national park, just what we like! The weather on the other hand may have been helping that aspect out, rainy and cold. Highs only hitting the upper 40’s, and that’s why they make rain gear right? We threw it on made sure to pack some handwarmers and off to hike!!

The trail for Hen Wallow Falls (Gabes Mountain Trails) has two start points one in the campground between sites 22 & 64 and the other on the road coming in just below the hiker parking lot.

Loved this sign at the start.

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Lushes forest green and just different. Different from Wisconsin and exactly what I have been craving. The previous and current rainfall did make things a bit challenging as creeks were swollen and leaping distance growing to long, my feet were wet in the first half mile. The bridges were awesome! Phoenix didn’t dare do any by himself though we carried him across all of them.

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Only disappointing part of hike was the waterfall was not so impressive my any means or maybe we did not go far enough but was just a trickle over a rock and other viewpoints meant going off the trail. I firmly believe in leave no trace in fact I picked up everyone’s garbage along the way.

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All in all we did 4.48 miles in 3 hours and 26 minutes. I was very impressed with Phoenix and abilities even in the rain.

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Wet, cold and hungry we took our chances and asked the camp host if there was a spot open for the night (all sites are on reservation system now, talk about taking the spontaneity out of a road trip.) Thankfully him and his wife were gracious enough to accommodate us.

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Side note this couple was amazing. The gentleman was half blind, while talking to us and showing the site he out of nowhere says “I can’t let that one go” and took off for the wood line leaving us going what the hell. Here he comes back with a single a morel mushroom. His wife was such a gentle women with a vibrant soul and had a true love of the smokies.

We were all so happy we did not have to travel after that hike. Rainy night called for soup and grilled cheese and of course a couple fireball shots to warm up 😉

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