April 16 - Peck's Corner Shelter (217.2)

Achin checks the Park Service recorded line and the roads are open. We pack and wait for the taxi/shuttle. There are three bus loads of middle schoolers here, like a pack of locusts descending on the motel's free breakfast.

Shuttle arrives on time, which we share with Bags and Hermes. We are on the Trail at 9 and pass the first shelter at around 10:30. The trail has ice on it, along with snow, but make good time despite it. Really enjoy these conditions as it reminds me of test hikes on Mt. Monadnock in the winter.

Have been hearing about Charlie's Bunion from other hikers, and arrive there soon after. This has probably the most amazing views I've seen in a long time. Walk out to a rocky point and with clear skies can see "forever". Have a brief video, which does not do the beauty justice.

Had my first of two falls near here, something I've been able to avoid so far. Stepped off trail to walk on edge and moisture made it weak and tumbled off trail on my side and into a small tree. No damage. Fell again about three miles later while trying to work down a large rock, well braced but feet slip on wet rock. Twist and fall down on my back, which is good. With loaded backpack providing great cushion, no real damage except for a banged left palm (not sure on what).

We are walking on the ridge line much of the day. So the mountains rise up and we walk along the peak. A two or three foot wide trail, and a buffer of one to four feet on each side, then rapid drop offs. Great views but need to watch your step.

Begin to think I missed the turn off to this shelter, but eventually reach it okay. Full shelter, as hikers hid in Gatlinburg during bad weather (like us) and are now here. Our last night in the Smokies should be  tomorrow. Tonight it's cold here, typing this while lying in shelter and sleeping bag.

Forgot to say that Uncle Dan brought a bathroom scale with him at my request to do a weight check. Have lost 20 pounds in a little less than a month.


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