Sometimes all the publicity in the world can’t top a forecast of rain. Yesterday was Mountains-to-Sea Trail day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was sponsored by the park and the Great Smoky Mountains Association. Even National Parks Traveler did a very complementary story about the hike and talk.
But the forecast was for possible rain. The skies were dark and the ranger at Oconaluftee Visitor Center told people that according to the weather forecast, it was going to start raining at 11 am. That gave people an excuse not to hike.
Still five active, enthusiastic visitors came to hike. We didn’t have a drop of rain. I always say that “Whoever shows up, shows up. I’m going to hike anyway.”
We started at Mingus Mill and walked to the Mingus cemetery and back.
Flowers were everywhere. I don’t think that the hikers appreciated the diversity of flowers in the Smokies. We saw foam flowers, Solomon seal and Solomon plume, several types of violets, and, my first showy orchis of the year.
Since most were not local, we discussed that the Smokies is not untouched wilderness. People lived here until the area became a park. Nothing says past civilization like a cemetery. I had also taken them to the slave cemetery just off the parking lot as well.
They asked a lot of questions about the MST and I was able to hold off most of them until the afternoon. About a dozen people came to my MST presentation. It was held on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and we were cold. The group included four of the hikers and a bunch of locals who had heard of the MST. One couple from Sylva even knew about the two-trail options out of the the park.
It’s not easy to convince visitors to hike in the park. A couple of trails are busy in the summer, mostly on the A.T. But in general, the trails are empty. Yesterday, There was traffic in the Mingus Mill parking lot. But our group didn’t see any other hikers.