Mile 210.1, Elevation 5919 feet
Got up a little earlier this morning for a 13 1/2 mile hike to Icewater Spring Shelter. The first thing was to climb to Clingmans Dome. At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Moun-tains National Park and the highest I've been to date. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647), both located in Mt. Mitchell State Park in western North Carolina, rise higher. The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top. On clear days views expand over a 100 miles. Unfortunately, air pollution often limits viewing distances to under 20 miles. Clouds, precipitation, and cold temperatures are common at Clingmans Dome. Temperatures at the dome can be 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the surrounding lowlands. In fact, the cool, wet conditions on Clingmans Dome's summit make the spruce-fir forest that grows there a coniferous rain forest.
As for the hiking, for the most part its been slow moving because of the ankle and knee problem. At Newfound Gap, I removed the tape from my ankle because it was hurting so much. By chance an EMT was walking by and offered to look at the ankle. The tape was too tight and caused bruising throughout the foot. I had to lay there by the trail with my foot elevated to relieve the swelling somewhat. No ice so that was all I could do.
Resting my foot after removing the tape that was supposed to help me with my ankle.
While there, the woman with whom I had been hiking (the professor) and I were saying how we wished we had a Gatorade to replace electrolytes. So a Chinese guy walks up and offers us two Gatorades. What a guy!
I did the last three miles to the shelter and snagged the last spot in the shelter. Actually, the professor had hiked ahead of me (I'm slower than everyone - sigh) and when she got to the shelter, she held a spot for me. The rest of the incoming hikers had to pitch tents and there wasn't much room for that. It rained and hailed around 6 PM, but everyone was settled in by then
Sign at Newfound Gap
So, today I hit 200 miles and currently stand at 210.1 miles total. Tomor-row will be an unplanned zero day in hopes that my ankle gets better. Unfortunately I'm almost out of food but other hikers have stepped up and offered some of their food. I should be out of the Smokey's by Saturday where I have a reprovision package waiting.