DAY 14: Knoxville, Tennessee
Miles traveled: 1,825
States visited: 8
Weather: 85, sunny
As I mentioned yesterday, this weekend I went hiking in the Smoky Mountains with my friend Keilan. We decided to hike the Two Chimneys Trail, which leads to one of the highest points in the park. The hike was only 2 miles long but it was pretty much straight up – the elevation rose 1,750 feet in those two miles.
The hike was arduous and tiring – and then we got to the summit. The final 100 feet or so normally involve winding up a narrow trail, but the trail was closed for “maintenance,” meaning that the only way to complete the journey was to climb up some treacherous rocks. This was like a climbing wall but without a harness, with a misstep leading to serious injury or dismemberment or worse. Fortunately Camp Kon-O-Kwee prepared me well for this sort of thing.
I like rock climbing so I was fine most of the way, except for one small section that was pretty scary because there was no obvious foothold. Too far to turn back and determined to complete the climb, I went for it and was able to scramble up the rocks to the top, where the view was spectacular. The pictures don’t do it justice. (As always, you can click on the pictures to see larger-size versions.)
I didn’t get to fully enjoy my time at the top, because all I kept thinking was, How in the world are we going to get back down? There were some other folks up there as well, and they decided that the best strategy was to take the trail that was closed for renovation, rather than trying to shimmy down the steep rocks we had just climbed up. So I followed them down the trail, which was much easier to navigate than the rocks.
Reaching the top was a rewarding triumph. Afterwards we played in the rapids and jumped around on some of the rocks.
I was glad to have Keilan show me some of the local sights in eastern Tennessee. Today I’m checking out Nashville briefly, then heading south towards Pensacola, where I hope to get in some beach time tomorrow morning before moving on to New Orleans.