Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lost in the Smoky Mountains...

While we were on vacation, Ben's family took us on a real vacation! We spent four nights in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  We spend the majority of our time relaxing at the cabin and walking around the town, but on our last full day there Ben and I ventured to the trails of the Smoky Mountains.  We researched different trails prior to our outing and decided on a 3 mile trail that would lead us to a waterfall.  We headed out about 11:30... we didn't make it back to the car until 4:30.  No, we aren't that slow of hikers, we just ran into a few issues along the way.

Ben told me the trail was a loop - wrong.
Our research said it was 3 miles - wrong.
The map showed that we would end up back in the park - wrong.

We actually had plans to hit another trail after finishing this one, thinking it was a loop.  The first 3 miles went pretty smoothly.  We took a few detours to see a cemetery and then of course the waterfall. We figured the trail was a bit longer than we were led to believe, but we were almost done so it was fine.  Around mile 4 and no end in sight, I was rethinking that second trail.  Once we realized that it was not a loop, I took out my phone to check the map on the website.  Well either Ben and I are awful at reading a map or the map was wrong.  We kept trucking along and reached the road we entered on.  Now here's where we make our biggest mistake. Looking at the map, we're pretty sure this is a loop so we can go either way.  We choose left.  We're are on the shady side of the mountain and due to a recent rain everything is pretty wet still.  It's not a warm day so I am not enjoying our hike as much anymore or the fact that I have to avoid huge puddles about every 10 feet.  We're trying to stay positive, knowing that the end of the road is only about two miles away is a huge help.  Too bad we were ridiculously wrong.  The cool part about this road is that every so often we reach a historic site.  We were able to see tons of cool old buildings.

This is about the time we decided that we wanted to live in the Smoky Mountains.  Talking about our future house and how we would get electricity to it and other details helped to pass the time.  However, we still hadn't reached the car and that was a bit worrisome.  Of course now I'm thinking about what we are going to do if we have to sleep out here and the threat of bears! I'm a little dramatic, I know!
We ended up going at least three miles on this road/trail.  AT :LEAST!  Now here comes the worst part of the whole trip... we see a sign "Smoky Mountain National Park Boundary".  Well where in the world are we now???? We keep walking, knowing that at this point it would be silly to turn around and do the whole thing over again.  We then start seeing signs "Gatlinburg <----"  Awesome, we aren't even in Gatlinburg anymore.  I pull my phone out once again and instead of just looking at the map on the Smoky Mountain site, I decide maybe Google Maps will be more helpful.  This is the point where I decide I don't want to hike ever again.  We are on the very outskirts of Gatlinburg and have at least a mile until we reach the major road, which is still no where near the car.  We decide that once we reach the major road we're going to call his parents to come pick us up and then drop us off at the car.  I refuse to walk all the way back to the car.  Once we reach the main room, we give them a call and they tell us they're pretty close by at a restaurant and just to meet them there.  Well "pretty close" is relative.  Not to put blame on anyone, but my fellow hiker made it sound like we were right down the street... We were another mile away.  We walk all the way through Downtown Gatlinburg to reach the restaurant where I basically fall onto a bar stool.  Luckily, other than a short walk to the car, our walking ended there for the day.  When we got back to the cabin we raced to the hot tub and basically nursed our sore legs for the remainder of the day.

So, did we have a good time... well for the first 2 hours or so yes, the other 3, not so much.
I'm sure this won't be our last hiking trip, but I believe it will be a while before we head back to the Smoky Mountains!

Where's the worst place you've been lost?

- Elizabeth

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