All About April (Part 2)-Friday, April 25 to Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Continuing our Two Week Stay at River Plantation, Sevierville, TN
00 - April Travel Map
                                   A – Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
                                   B – Buck Hall Recreation Area, McClellanville, South Carolina
                                   C – Magnolia RV Park and Campground, Kinards, South Carolina
                                   D – River Plantation RV Resort, Sevierville, Tennessee

 (D) Friday, Apr, 25  &  Saturday, April 26 – River Plantation RV Park, Sevierville, TN

On Friday, April 25th, we decided to take a hiking break!!

The Pelicans (Gin, Syl, Dan and Tricia) wanted to visit the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery and we wanted to visit Elkmont Campground & Sugarland Visitor Center.  Looking at the map, we could drop them at the distillery and continue on to our destinations, then pick them up on our way back.  That way they were free to test all the different flavors and we would be the designated drivers:o)) 
00 - Map Trip to Elkmont
From the campground in Sevierville, we headed south on 441 to Gatlinburg.

01 - Gatlinburg, TN

We dropped the Pelicans at the distillery and continued on to the Visitor Center in GSMNP.

02 - Old Smoky Moonshine Distillery


Sugarland Visitor Center is just a few miles further south on 441.  We have been here before and did not need to see all the exhibits and film.  But if you are new to the park, it is well worth a visit.

03 - Sugarland Visitor Center

We stopped today to check with a park ranger about our plans for tomorrows hike.  We want to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs through GSMNP.  We wanted to be sure what we had planned was a doable Day Hike ;o)  
Since I couldn’t find anything in writing about the section we wanted to hike, thought we would check with the experts!!  We met a great ranger and she said we had picked a wonderful hike and we would have no problem completing it in a day!!

Our next stop was Elkmont Campground.  We made a right onto River Road from the Visitor Center and traveled about 6 miles to the campground.

Click on any photo to enlarge or hover your mouse on any photo for a description.

05 - Turkey Crossing the Road06 - Turn To Elkmont07 - Road is fine for Baby10 - Approaching Elkmont - Fly Fisherman

11 - Little River runs right through the campground

Elkmont Campground is a no hookup campground in a beautiful location.  We wanted to see if Baby could get there and if they had sites that would accommodate a 35 foot rig.  While it is a bit tight, we must say it is doable for us and the beautiful setting would make it all worth while:o)
12 -  Elkmont - site selections

We are hoping to spend more time in GSMNP to do more hiking.  However, most of the commercial campgrounds require a long drive to get to the trailheads.  While we prefer hookups, we would have no problem boondocking for a few days to be close to some great hiking!!  We starred the sites that we liked which would fit Baby.  All of them are along the Little River!!!  Also, since we are Senior Citizens… the camping fee is only $11.50 per night:o))

Click on any photo to enlarge or hover your mouse on any photo for a description.

13a - Site C2

13c - Site F1     13c2 - Site F1

13d - Site F6     13d1 - Site F6

After we finished exploring, we headed back toward Gatlinburg to pick up our Pelicans!!

14 - Returning from Elkmont to Gatlinburg 

They were right there, waiting for the Tahoe Bus out of town;o))
15 - Picking up the Pelicans

They all said they enjoyed the Distillery Tour, but Gatlinburg was a real tourist trap!!


On Saturday, April 26th, we hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail!!

While researching hikes in the GSMNP, I found out that over 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park.  Looking at the map, I saw that the AT came very close to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in GSMNP.  Looking closer, I saw that it also came through Newfound Gap, where we could leave a second vehicle to make this a one way hike!!

00 - Trail Map

The green dashed line is the AT through GSMNP. 

According to map,

the distance from Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap is .5+3.5+2.5+1.7  or  8.2 miles. 

We decided to take two cars, leave one at Newfound Gap, the end of our hike.

Drive the other to Clingmans Dome where we would start the hike. 

I thought, this is doable, since it would be all downhill:o))

We headed out early in the morning as we knew it could take ALL day ;-))

Click on any photo to enlarge or hover your mouse on any photo for a description.

02 - Driving from Sevierville to Clingman Dome in the Smokies02b - entering GSMNP02c - driving through the mountain02d - our destination - Clingman's Dome Tower

Arriving at Clingmans Dome parking lot

03 - Clingman's Dome Parking Area - the start of our hike  03a - Clingman's Dome Parking Area - the view

Starting the hike – first half mile to the Tower and AT trailhead.
03b - Path to Tower and AT trailhead

Doesn’t look down hill to me?!?!
03c - UP, Up, Up to the Tower

03d - Almost there - just a bit further to the TOP

From the top of the tower, we could see our destination…

Newfound Gap which I mark on the photo with a red X.

03e2 - Where we are headed


At the top of the tower we were at our highest elevation – 6689 feet!!

Now it’s all downhill from here :o))

We found the trailhead and the simple white blaze that marks the Appalachian Trail.
04 - Starting the Appalachian Trail - The Blaze

We were headed down the trail. 

The AT is a narrow, rugged trail which requires you to watch your step. 

So unless we were stopped, I really wasn’t looking around or snapping to many photos!!

04a - Starting the Appalachian Trail  04b - Narrow, Rocky, Rugged Trail - must watch where you walk

Occasionally, I would spy an opening with a view!!

04f - Views through the trees

We were all enjoying this wonderful hike.  Moving right along down the mountain:o)

Then, something changed…

we started to climb…

UP, UP, UP!!!

04c - Not all Downhill - Note always check elevation charts!!

We had no idea that we would be climbing mountains on this hike!!

I have since learned about “Elevation” Charts:o))
04d - Elevation Chart

If I had seen this prior to our hike,

I would have know we would be climbing mountains at least 3 times during our hike down.

04e - Elevation Chart - Closeup

Oh well, when you know better… you do better:o))

(I have since purchased the Hiking Trails of the Smokies guide book!!)


We were all up for the challenge and encouraged each other along:o))

They are a fun bunch to hike with:o))
Click on any photo to enlarge or hover your mouse on any photo for a description.

04f1 - Views through the trees  04f2 - Views through the trees

We stopped for lunch near the Mt. Collins Shelter Trail.

04g - Lunch Spot at 3.5 Miles   04g2 - Lunch Spot at 3.5 Miles

While we were there, we had the opportunity to talk with many of the Thru-hikers.  Thru-hikers are those backpackers who plan to hike the entire AT from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine.  The total length is approximately 2200 miles!!! 

The Thru-hikers are amazing.  Most had started at Springer Mountain, GA and been on the trail for 14 to 21 days.  It is 200 miles from Springer Mountain to Clingmans Dome… do the math… they are averaging 9.5 to 14.5 miles per day with 35-50 pounds of gear on their backs.  Take a look at the elevation chart…most of those miles were uphill;o(( 

Many times during our hike, we could hear them coming.

We would move to the side of the trail so we didn’t break their pace as they passed us.

Yea... they passed us, but remember we were wearing fanny packs ;o))

As we were eating our lunch and RESTING, they would come up the trail and stop to visit for a few minutes.  Everyone of them had a smile on their face.  To a hiker, when we asked where they were headed, they answered “MAINE!!”  Never the least bit of doubt about where they were going. 
Only 2000 miles to go!!
05b - Through Hikers-Backpackers  05c - Through Hikers-Backpackers - Rambling Rose
05 - Through Hikers-Backpackers  05d - Through Hikers-Backpackers - Wearing a Kilt06b2 - Through Hikers-Backpackers - Carrying all they have  06b3 - Through Hikers-Backpackers - Carrying all they have
After our lunch and rest, we headed on for about 3 more miles. 
At that point we came to an opening near the road to Clingmans Dome. 
Many of the hikers that had past us were gather here resting and eating on the hillside. 
 06 - Trail Magic
A group called, “Trail Magic” had set up a station and were preparing “Real” food for the thru-hikers.  Earlier in our hike, we had passed a couple who were handing out cut citrus to the thru-hikers.  Everyone of the hikers said this was one of the most amazing things that happens to them along the trail. 
The Thru-hikers can only carried a limited amount of food which is schedule to last for a certain number of days.  These “Trail Magic” events just give them such a lift!!  We got to thinking this is something we would like to do.  Of course, we mean setting up a Trail Magic location…  not hiking the AT ;o))
At this point, we had completed 6.5 miles and only had 1.7 miles to go!!
06b - Trail Magic - only 1.7 miles to go
We headed uphill first, then through the wildflowers and finally a downhill section:o))
7 - Newfound Gap - 9 miles - Great Hike!!!
Thanks for a Great Hike with Great Friends on the AT :o))


  1. How fun! Boy do we miss you all but our time is near!

  2. Excellent tale! I've read stories from people who have done the entire AT and Pacific Crest. I can't even imagine. Today's 6 miler carrying just lunch and a gallon of water was enough for me :-)!

  3. Great time and a great area. we have been there several times:)

  4. Oh boy does that look like a fun hike with such a fun group. I dreamed for years of hiking the AT and read every book written by a thru hiker. Had the AT map on my wall. But never had the time until I had to choose between Winnona and the AT. We know how that worked out. Love Elkmont. Hope we can set up a future rendezvous there.

  5. Come on, you know you want to hike the AT. Just park the Tahoe on one end and Baby on the other. Plus, when you get to Maine, you can hit LL Bean and replace the hiking boots you've just worn out... :cD

    Great post of a great time. I'm impressed that the Pelicans were able to hike the day after all that drink testing!

  6. I'm impressed. We hiked a small portion of the Appalachian Trail and I know it's not an easy hike.

    You have motivated me to do more hiking when we get back to the mountains.

  7. This is an area we want to visit if we ever get back east again. Thanks for the tour.
    Safe travels!

  8. That looked like a great day and a great hike! It would be fun to do part of the AT, but I'd need a pack horse/donkey/mule to carry my stuff :) A fanny pack is about my limit :)

  9. Wow -- good job, guys!! We hiked a few FEET on the Appalacian Trail at Climgman's dome . . . just enough to take a picture, but that was it! Looks like you had a great day! We're finding that many of the national park websites have those elevation charts on the hike description pages . . . good information to know!

  10. The Appalachian Trail certainly is more rugged than other day hikes. The most interesting part of the hike was definitely the Thru Hikers. They all had such positive attitudes.

  11. What fun! We have walked along the AT from Clingmans Dome a few times, but not very far.

  12. Setting up for the Thru Hikers does sound like a lot of fun!

  13. Another amazing day with amazing people! I can now cross "hike part of the AT" off of my bucket list!! The thru-hikers are such an inspiration. Yeah - we're gonna spread some trail magic next year.