At about 3:30 am, I awoke with an urgent need to use the bathroom… I hate having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night of here.  I started down the trail, and on my life I swear there was a bear cub in the middle of the trail, so I did what all same people do, I dropped my drawers, squatted and peed as fast as a human possibly can, and ran back to the tent.  When morning dawned, I became even more convinced that there really was a bear, because that big black thing that I swear I saw was no longer there. 

We rather nonchalantly packed up camp and set out on our way.  We had plans to hike about 10 miles to the last shelter before Clingmans Dome, but as we hiked along we ran into several hikers that had been struck with noro-virus!  I mean, hugging trees, praying that some magical carpet would carry them down the mountain.  I felt so badly for them, and utterly terrified for us.  In the Smokies there are different rules than elsewhere on the trail.  You have to stay at the designated shelters, and water sources are not as plentiful as you might think way up on top of the mountain.  We made a call and decided that we would beat feet out of the National Park and into Cherokee, circumventing the last 35 or so miles of the Smokies.  We plan to come back later this year to finish those miles.

Evidence that the seasons are changing is springing forth everywhere.  It is truly breathtaking!!! Amidst the death, new life is sprouting up, changing the landscape.  Soon the mountains will team with green and the evidence of fall will be harder to see!!!

We reached out to a friend of our new friends, who graciously offered to come pluck us up of that mountain and deliver is to safety!!! Because we are trying so hard to make miles we had never hiked before, we  don’t have many pictures from the day.

But we experienced some of the most amazing views!!! Seriously breathtaking!!!

It was a warm day, we ate thankful for the cool, gentle breeze that blew almost all day.  We didn’t want to risk filtering water with our filter, because we were uncertain if it was actually working, so we decided to stick to rationing out the 2 liters that we each were carrying.  It was a hard climb, and by the end we were dehydrated and exhausted! 

We made it to Clingmans Dome parking lot, and to our great pleasure, Jeff and Heather arrived shortly after with WATER!!! AND PIZZA!!! Are they not just absolute saints?

Kole was feeling really nauseous as we finished the climb.  The dehydration had set in.  He got sick on the side of the road, coming down of the mountain.  Thankfully it became obvious that it was asleep and water that would be his cure, and we are thankful it was not the plague!

Jeff and Heather  took us to the Comfort Inn in Cherokee, where we were treated to two rooms for two nights!!! I’m not making this up.  People whom we have never met, came to our rescue with water, pizza and lodging!  They even supplied us with ibuprophen, allergy pills, gingerale for Kole and cold beer for Ryan.

We slept like babies after taking hot showers!

In the morning, Heather came to pick Ryan and I up from the hotel and drive us around to do our errands.  We stopped at the post office to get our packages, went to the grocery store, and to get house to do laundry.  We had a wonderful conversation with her, and we were able to visit with Jeff a short while, after he came back in from hunting.  We wished we had more time to get to know Jeff, Heather, and their kids!  (We left before the laundry was completed, so they finished it for us and brought it back to us! Thank you, so much!)

We took all the food back to the hotel and had a monster throw down!!!  Everyone relaxed, napped, and fueled up.  It was amazing!

We had a package delivered to the US Store, with our new water filter in it.  Heather graciously drove to get it for us.  After dinner, Jeff, Heather, and Ellison, their son, brought or laundry and box to us at the hotel. We then set out on an adventure to find some ice cream.  It was only 7:15 and the DQ next door was closed.  EVERYTHING, even the had stations close extremely early on the reservation.  The only place that was open was a quaint little Shop called The Front Porch.  Heather and Jeff are friends with the owners, and it was so nice to meet them.  It turned out to be so much better than Dairy Queen!

We are so humbled by the genuine care and generosity of our new friends.  We are going that they will make it to NH some day, where we can extend the same hospitality to them!

We said our see you laters back at the hotel, and slept soundly after taking more hour showers!

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