I woke up on Day #3 to light rain and, more importantly, calves that had completely cramped and seized up overnight. I massaged out my legs while eating breakfast, took vitamins and Tylenol, and walked around the campsite for a bit to stretch them out, but they were still very tight. I scrapped my original plan of a long, strenuous hike, and decided instead to spend Day #3 on some shorter hikes I had formerly thought I would tackle later in the week.
My first stop of the day was Newfoundland Gap on the way to Clingman’s Dome. I’ve been to Newfoundland Gap several years ago and the view was amazing, but on this particular day, the further I drove and the higher up the elevation got, the harder and crazier the wind and rain became. By the time I reached Newfoundland Gap, the rain was blowing in sideways and visibility was close to nil.
I changed into my quick dry pants I wore when I hiked the Narrows in Zion two years ago (that’s right, hard-core hikers are willing to change in the car. No shame 😉 ), put on my hot-pink waterproof jacket, and headed out.
The best part of the stop for me was the “geek” factor. At Newfoundland Gap, you have the Rockefeller plaque (John D. Rockefeller donated $5 million of the $12 million dollars required to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park), World Heritage and Biosphere plaques and part of the Appalachian Trail. *Side Note: I love the idea of the Appalachian Trail. One of my long-term goals is to hike it in its entirety, whether that be as a through-hiker (less likely, logistically) or as a section hiker.
I gotta say, it was pretty fun walking around and “playing” in the rain. I wish the visibility would have been better to get some nicer photos, but I had a ball, letting loose and laughing in the storm.