Great Smoky Mountains Hiking: Beautiful Backcountry

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My wife’s cell phone was showing rain on the way into the mountains. We didn’t know what to really expect. The forecast said 10-20% chance of precipitation.

When we got to Bryson city, there was no rain in sight. We wondered if we would have time to get to the campsite which was exactly 3 miles from the parking lot to be able to set up before the rains came. To our surprise, there was no rain. However, the hike in was pretty strenuous. We hiked into the great Smoky Mountains to campsite 74.

The area was under a watch because of increased their activity. When we reach the parking lot and we were setting up all of our gear an older gentleman walked up and asked if we were going to brave it into the wilderness. He made it sound like there were bears everywhere. He said the good one that was aggressive was already caught and dealt with.

Of course this made my wife a bit concerned. She was scared to death actually. She looked at me and said I don’t know that this was a good idea.

I made my best effort to calm her down. We didn’t set off on the trail to campsite 74. As I was saying, the hiking was pretty rough. It had been a while since neither one of us had worked out. Especially my wife. The 1st mile made her pretty dizzy and sick. She rested a bit and was ready to go the rest of the course. Later that day she was able to swim in her favorite spot in the local Creek. She said that made it worth the hike. We absolutely love it at the campsite 74. It is simply gorgeous, and there’s just enough people that show up that makes you feel a little bit safer without too many people if you know what I mean.

I highly recommend it this time of year (May-August). We did see a few ticks the last day we were there. But in general the temperatures at night were very tolerable and cool, and the bugs weren’t too bad.

I recommend that you always take a head net if you have contacts. A bug in the eye on the trail can be a pretty big pain in the but and slow you down. Make sure you take enough water with you on your hike. You will need it. The hike in seems to have less of an incline, but by the time you hike out (as we were) you will be ready for the added incline.

Other than that the only wildlife we saw was a deer.

Hiking: Thinking H20 while saving your dough


Got Water?

When I go hiking, no matter where I go I have to make sure that I have enough water. You can purchase trail maps that will show you exactly where you can find water when you were going out for an excursion. Depending on how accessible water is, you want to make sure that you either pack enough water to be able to sustain you… And then some. Or, you have a portable filtration system. I don’t take it on local trips to Moss Park, but when I know I am going to be out in the back-country for a while, it’s a must-have item.

I personally use the Vario water filtration system and have for years when I have gone hiking in wilderness among trees and rivers.

The system is comprised out of a manual pump, a ceramic disc with very small holes, a carbon filter, and then a regular filter. I find it does a great job. The one thing that I recently discovered is that when you get back from a trip you want to make sure to take everything apart so that I can dry well.

You will also want to make sure that everything is clean before you go on your trip. Most of the time you can actually clean the first part of the water filtration system which is the ceramic disc by taking it out and using a simple green scrub sponge on it.

Once it is no longer Brown, you’re good to go. I’ll never forget the first time that I took it with me on a trip. I really wondered if it was going to filter the water sufficiently.

I was actually kind of scared because I thought… Could you imagine if I got sick out here? No one would be able to come to my rescue if I didn’t see anyone. At that time I was hiking alone and was away from a lot of the normal hikers and population of the area.  I’ll never forget I packed up as many water reserves as I could. After hiking for several hours I found that I was very thirsty.

Alas the last drop… Okay, I remember thinking. I have to go ahead and start filtering some water here. That is exactly what I did, I climb down to the stream below. Dropped the suction ball into the water and began to pump the water into my container.

I remember taking the first step and thinking, wow that didn’t taste so bad. It seems fine, it smells fine, I hope I’ll be okay. The truth was I was more than okay. Somehow I realized that the concept of bottled water is really wrecked us in our world today. We become so (pardon my expression) girly about the water we drink.

I remember watching a TV show where they told guess that they were going to let them taste water from different parts the world.

They brought in bottles from different companies that are located in really exotic areas and filled them with the tap water from the hose behind the restaurant.

Yeah, you guessed it. The water was all the same. But the reaction of the people had was completely different. The recordings of people talking about how one had a sweetness to it and, the other had a taste of walnuts and so on was fascinating.

It really goes to show how much the human mind wanders in its thoughts about different subjects. The belief level of everyone was that these were imported from all over the world. The truth was they were from the spigot back behind the building.

Pretty funny right?

I remember after my first hiking trip where I filtered my own water for several days I realized that my relationship with water changed completely.

That trip really made me feel a part of the earth. And water, is a big part of that.

It’s funny what we take for granted isn’t it.