AT Day 015: Saturday April 22, 2023

Mile 207.8 +  0 miles /0 km

Total Distance Hiked:  207.8 miles / 334 km

Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham, Gatlinburg, Tennessee 

Our shuttle driver dropped us off at the hotel late yesterday afternoon. We were so happy to get a room and get off our feet. My body was feeling particularly smashed, everything hurt, my feet, my knee and even my broken ankle from way back. Hammer was just very happy to stop. As I was getting out of the car was the first time I had serious doubts about my bodys’  ability to handle this trail. I did not like this feeling, fleeting though it was. 

We checked in with an indifferent hotel clerk. I knew this was not a hiker town but a bit of warmth on arrival would have helped.  As we were walking to our room I noticed a sign on one door “this is a non-smoking room”. Curious I thought, it was when we opened the door to our room that the smell of past smokers hit us.  Ahhhh…… in this hotel a non-smoking room is the exception.   We were too tired to go back and change. We got used to the smell once we settled.  We were so happy to have a shower, draw the curtains and pass out under crispy, clean sheets. 

In the morning the hotel provided a continental breakfast – Little Debbie pastries, yoghurt, banana and coffee. The banana was nice, the rest was not quite the nutrition our bodies needed. We asked our driver yesterday for breakfast place recommendations. She listed a few pancake houses. It seems that pancakes were a local breakfast specialty.  

In the morning the skies were grey and the ground wet. So it had obviously rained over night. We did not hear a thing.  We waited till lunchtime to head outside, get some lunch and buy our resupply for the next few days. By lunchtime the clouds were breaking up and it looked like a fine day.

As we stepped out on to the main street we bumped into Cory, Obi and a hiker we call Mr Elusive, all of whom we first met at the Fontana Dam Marina. They just got into town, after a very cold, wet and foggy hike over Clingmans Dome. Their presence and ours in town is completely dwarfed by the crowed sidewalks full of tourists. We stopped for a quick chat and left them deciding if they will stay the night in town.


We headed off for a most delicious lunch at the Smoky Mountain Brewery. We shared a salad and I had a great tasting burger with a side of cheesy broccoli. Hammer ambitiously ordered a 16inch pizza and almost finished it. Our hiker hunger has kicked in. 

After lunch we walked a couple of blocks of  main street  Gatlinberg. Can’t quite describe the experience. When we were coming off the mountain yesterday we passed a hiker who asked us if we had ever been to Gatlinburg before. “No” we replied. He said well ‘”You’re in for a surprise”.  Good or bad?”  I asked . Well he said “It depends on what you like. Have you ever been to Vegas?” “Yes” we replied. “Gatlinberg is like Hillbilly Vegas” he retorted with a huge laugh as we were walking away.   

The town is a theme park on steroids with eye-catching amusement parlours on every turn. One of the many local attraction is DollyWorld in the nearby twin town of Pigeon Forge, the birthplace of Dolly Parton. We had little interest or energy to take a ride to visit. 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. And Gatlinberg is the gateway town to the Smokys. The town is simply beyond category.  It is hard to reconcile the setting of Gatlinberg on the boundary of a National Park. Looking at the crowded footpaths it was hard yo believe that many of these people came here to visit the park.

We got our resupply from Walgreens on the main street and went back to the hotel to put our feet up. I spent another hour dealing with information requests from United Airlines about our delayed flight to Atlanta.  Otherwise we took it easy for the rest of the day. Well Gatlinberg has been a slice, we are getting excited to head back out there tomorrow and take our chances with the bears.