Grreat Smoky Mountain NP Backpacking Trip 11/23/2011 Cades Cove

Wow, are you kidding!  Our start temperature that day was 30 degrees, man are you kidding.  Well at this point I thought I may be regretting bringing the 30 degree bag instead of my nice warm comfortable 0 degree bag.  I really had no recourse at this point since my 0 degree bag was in Tampa about 12 hours away.

After the first night we needed to pull our bags out and dry them out.  We experienced a lost and I mean a lot of condensation.  More appropriately it literally seemed like it rained on us, that's how significant it was.  I attribute it to our camp site location.  It was wedged i nbetween the convergence of a large flowing creek and smaller stream strapped in a valley area.  It was very humid and as soon as we lost sight of the sun, you good just feel the moisture building.

This was probably one of the most scenic routes we have taken in GSMNP.  This is a tunnel under the road where we had to cross and pick up the trail.  

This was the first time we had selected a trial that skirted on the Park Boundry.
A horse shoe!  Great, we new we would have good luck on this trip.

I have to say.  My favorite time to hike the  Smokies is when all the leaves have fallen and the tress surrender the expansive views of the park.  Since there is no such thing as "sub alpine" in the smokies, when the leaves are gone the views are ever rewarding.
 Here is camp site 18, the first night in the back country.  This is the large flowing creek I was speaking off.    The camp site location was pretty large and can accommodate many campers.  Most site are pretty level.  You can tell this camp site is heavily used and is pretty popular among back country campers.

More expanse views:

Camp site location at 18

  Here is another view:

 We pitched the tarp on this level area close to the water.  The proximity tothe water may have played a role in the excess condensation we experienced.
 All tidy and ready to go:
Foot bridge leading to more camp site locations:  Notice how fast the water is moving under the bridge.

Look how excited she looks.  Then again it is only day one!

Shana takes a leap of faith to cross this small creek.  I caught her in mid-air.

This was tranquil stop:

Same location but different view.

Golite Pinnacle:

Salami and cheddar mmmmm!

You can see hoe large site 18 is and very flat as well.  Another plus is the abundance of water. However this makes it challenging when trying to adhere to aprk rules amount humane waste disposal.

Ah, it's dinner time.

 It was a pretty cold damp night for the fist night out.
This trail had many exposed granite rock formations

The sun starts to make it's escape during our second day in the back country.

Our Gossamer Gear Spinn Twin is a favorite shelter of ours

 I forgot to mention that the night sky (for both nights) did not have a cloud in sight and since all the tress had surrendered their leaves to the winter calling we were treated with spectacular views of the constellations, shooting stars and satellites making their way across the night sky.  It has been years since I have had the opportunity to star gaze.

This campsite was another great selection.Not only were we treated to a memorable night sky but later that evening, the winds picked up and you could hear wind race through the valley as it gained speed only to crash up and over the knoll we were camped on.  Luckily, the geographic features of the area prevented us from experiencing the full force of the wind gusts.  However, Our Spinn Twinn tarp reminded us with the sound of violently flapping spinnaker cloth that the wind was no mere light gust and was a force to be respected.

Ahhh, we made it what a lovely experience!


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