Northcliffe to Schafer 14.5km (total 354.1km)
Decision made... after sourcing some more info on the predicted cold front approaching and throwing my hike into a 3 day chilly frenzy with temps predicted as low as 3 degrees - I knew my walk would end in Schafer Campsite rather than double hut it to Warren Campsite
Schafer Campsite was an easy 14.5 km out of Northcliffe. It was a quaint, almost an-Alice -in-Wonderland experience taking in the perfect green pastures, abundance of grazing cows, private properties; no doubt dairy farmers, chicken farms and local produce farms , all fringing the road as I walked along. The path was strewn with mulching leaves, Jarrah and Karri kindling and patches of green grass on the verges. A recent controlled burn by the DP&W left dark spaces between the giant trees exposing the depth of the forests otherwise invisible to us as we walk by. All this was knit together by the Gardner River weaving its way obviously and sometimes discreetly along my walk. All this gave no hint of the cold to follow.
I was greeted by large man made dam bordering on a private property and giving access to hikers of the Schaffer campsite. As boredom set in I was excited to have a visitor, Marguarite, stopped by on her walk from Warren campsite. I was happy when she confirmed that I would be enjoying a lovely walk - rain, hail or snow tomorrow. Shortly afterwards a ranger passed by checking in on the campsite and offered to lend me his lighter to start a fire (see video). He said having a fire is like having company.
Day 4 in the Smokies. 15.5 AT miles (16.7 total). 5 hours.
Today was our last day of our section hike in the Smokies. We knew a majority of the day would be downhill, with of course a few mountains to climb, but we figured with light packs and no more food we would move swiftly.
We ran a lot of the downhills and power hiked the ups. Eventually we got to the last observation tower in the Smokies and dropped our packs for the 1.2 mile detour for a gorgeous vista! This side trail was again, too long of a detour in such gnarly conditions last November, so it was new to us this time!
After the tower we FLEW downhill the last 5.2 miles to Davenport Gap, the northern border of the Smokies and the end of our day.
Running was a little rough at first. I had to get used to actually running down the mountain with a pack and poles. I stumbled a few times when I got careless but after about a mile I was in a groove and couldn’t even conceive of walking.
The last two miles were so emotional. I listened to some of my AT soundtrack from my #thruhike and started to cry.
My emotions were soaring and I felt like I actually had wings and that I was flying down the trail. I felt outside of my body and had a feeling of ecstasy combined with spiritual euphoria. I remembered having these same feelings of pure bliss on Rocky Top (my last night in the Smokies last year).
I felt happy and sad, nostalgic and present, proud and humbled, accomplished and grateful.
In many ways I felt like I got to finish my thru hike today. It was like the finish I never had. My finish on Springer mountain was rough for a variety of reasons, but today I landed on top. My feet held up my strong body and I felt more empowered and emotional than ever.
I sobbed at Davenport Gap while Jamie tried to explain to the other hikers that they were tears of joy. I just felt so glad to finish some unfinished emotional and spiritual work in the Smokies this week.
With huge gratitude, I will cherish this #sectionhike close to my heart. The lessons I’ve learned about myself really became clarified by putting myself back in the elements from which these changes were born. 🙏❤️
My friend and I went from the lowest point in New Mexico (Carlsbad Caverns), to the highest point in Texas (Guadalupe Peak, Elevation 8,751’) in one day. We arrived at the base around 4PM. As we started the climb, some people on the way down were saying we should turn back, and that we will never make it back before nightfall. They said the average time to get to the top and back is 7-8 hours. We did the full ascent and descent back to base in 4.5 hours. This can be applied to anything we do in life. Moral of the story, never let someone discourage you on your way to the top. ⛰
11616 hours ago
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Unless you're another photographer, I must be so annoying to travel with. I have no regard for the time, keep out signs, weather, or my personal safety. I'm constantly on the hunt for another capture.
535506 February, 2019
"Ownership of most things is overrated. Ownership of worldly experience is not." 🗺
I enjoy fashion and art, but what I love is travel.
My dad wanted me to value travel and cultural experiences over materialism, so he literally took me from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters, lived in countries on the other side of the world, making sure I climbed mountains, hiked through jungles, flew over the oceans, and sailed the coasts along the way. Because if you're lucky enough to grow old, who gives a damn what designer fashion you wore or luxury car you drove. It's the places you've been and the things that you've seen that will make your life rich.
1,192683 August, 2018
"California here we come
Right back where we started from"
Western sunset over the mountains. I can't remember if this was before or after pulling over for the border patrol check point 🌎