Starting Location: Double Spring Gap Shelter
Destination: Icewater Spring Shelter
Total Miles: 215.6
Don't know where to begin about this incredible day—start to finish. Professor T and I woke up at 4am and headed up to the summit of Clingmans Dome for a sunrise at the trail's highest point (it's all donwhill from here, right?), and we weren't disappointed. As the sun came up and the sky changed colors, one-by-one the mountains and ridges appeared out of the mist in their typical wave-like fashion, all in varying shades of blue-gray all the way to the horizon—an awesome way to begin today's hike. Hiking down towards Newfound Gap, the park's only major road, the sun again shone through more clouds but with very warm temps just the same. The day only got better when I was treated to my first Trail Magic by Papa Smurf and Flame, who were waiting in the tourist-mobbed gap parking lot with hamburgers, chips, soda, cookies and even some supplies. We stayed to chat with these two incredibly nice trail angels and former thru-hikers for quite awhile.
After answering lots of questions from curious but shy tourists and day-hikers, and quickly meeting Zip-Drive (founder of the Trail Journals website!), it was off to enjoy the views, sunshine, and a beautiful afternoon in front of this newly renovated shelter. Great to see the familiar face of Mo show up at the end of the day. What a great day—best on the trail so far.