One nice thing about the shelters in the Smokies is they all have a fireplace inside. All night long last night people tended to the fire and it burned into the morning. My shoes didn’t totally dry out, but they were warm and only a little damp. One bad thing about the shelters in the Smokies is that you are required to sleep in them (if it is full only thru hikers may tent near the shelter). This leaves you more restricted in term of mileage options. Yesterday was a short day, and today we had the option of 12 or 19.7. We had done 12 miles by 3 pm and decided to push on. I’d say we felt good until the last 2 miles, when everything just started hurting. We both put on some music to get it over with. Got to the last shelter in the National Park about 7. We saw 3 bears! 2 cubs and the mama bear, hanging around downhill from the shelter. We all watched them for a few minutes before running them off. We are tented right next to the shelter tonight. While we technically did 19.7 trail miles today, we also hiked up the side trail from the shelter last night which was about a half mile, so we walked over 20 miles today, making this our longest day ever!
Great job you guys. ❤️