As memorial day approached, the weather FINALLY started to get nicer. This has been the longest winter ever. Although pretty snow and skiing and winter wonderlands are beautiful, I was about ready to pack up my parka and bring out my hiking boots and tank tops. With a three-day weekend approaching, I thought this was the perfect time to make the drive down to the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.
Nine hours of driving seemed way shorter than it actually was. It also seemed shorter when you weren’t leaving after a full day of work, but oh well. Leaving Detroit at 3:30pm on a Friday meant getting in to Tennessee at 1am. Who needs sleep when there’s beautiful mountains to see in the morning?
The lack of sleep didn’t deter us from waking up bright and early to have a full day of hiking ahead. We showed up to the ranger station, and said we wanted VIEWS. Beautiful mountain views. That’s all I wanted, but sometimes things don’t work out as planned!
The ranger suggested doing the hike to Charlie’s Bunion. I could only imagine how beautiful the mountains would look, but unfortunately we were in a cloud. It was white everywhere. Oh well, it had it’s own type of beauty. It kind of felt like we were on the edge of the world.
After a full day of hiking, we ventured into Gatlinburg. Everyone I knew said they hated it there. I must say, it was an incredibly touristy town. However, how could you not have fun going through mirror mazes and playing mini golf? I had a mediocre dinner of french fries and lettuce (yay, veganism in the South!), and walked around town. The sun started to peak out, so Gus thought it would be a great idea to rent some little zippy convertible car and drive around. In theory, it sounded great, but the weather in the Smokey’s is unpredictable. The start of the drive was really fun (for him, I thought I was going to die. It accelerated a bit faster than my Chevy Cruze haha). As we went further into the mountains, it started TO POUR. Now, I don’t mind the rain too much, but when it’s hitting you at 60mph, then it really starts to hurt! Not as much fun. You live and you learn, and it’s pretty funny to look back on.
The next day, we headed back to the same ranger station (Sugarlands visitor center if you’re curious). The forecast said rain was expected by 11am, so we had planned to do two shorter hikes so we wouldn’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere as it started pouring. We started off with another hike meant to produce views, so started the walk to the LeConte lodge. It’s this cute little lodge that you have to hike 5 miles up to, and ugh don’t I wish we had stayed there. The initial plan was to stop halfway, but the sun was shining so bright and we were finally seeing mountains, that we decided to go all the way up! Fast forward like four hours, and we finally made it to the peak! The peak was again, covered in white. We had apparently walked up too far and entered the cloud. The trail itself though was amazing. It made the foot pain and 6 hours of walking totally worth it (although I was pretty done about a mile from the end).
With 10 miles of hiking and enough elevation to take us up into the clouds, we thought a few beers were very well deserved. Smoky Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg was perfect for the occasion. We both got flights and tried basically every beer they brewed in house. They also had vegetarian/vegan options! It was a fantastic restaurant (especially compared to wherever else we were eating). It was a great way to end our short trip, and prepare for the long drive the next day.
Our trip consisted of 18 miles of hiking, 18 hours in the car, and tons of memories. Was it worth the distance? Absolutely! I definitely can’t wait to go back!