The day started wet and foggy as I drove to Newfound Gap in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was there to scout a hike to Charlies Bunion on the Appalachian Trail for Friends of the Smokies. I’ve done this hike so many times. The first time was when I hiked the A.T. this section in 1997 but it’s always different.
Yesterday, I was on the trail with Brent, who is finishing his stint with Americorps and will become Marketing Director for Friends. Anna Lee Z. will be working full-time with Holly D. in the North Carolina office. So she’ll be co-leading the monthly hikes.
The A.T. heading north toward Charlies Bunion is green and dark. The few views we could have had on the way were socked in by fog. We passed and were passed by hikers going up to the Bunion, to Mt. Le Conte and coming down from Le Conte. For the first section, until the Boulevard Trail, it was the same trail that I did last week for the Margaret Stevenson hike.
We stopped at Icewater Springs Shelter. The park has put in a new compostable privy, which is also wheel-chair accessible. This beauty of a privy was funded by Friends of the Smokies. After passing the piped spring for which the shelter is named, we went down, down, down and finally to the intersection: Charlies Bunion to the left, the A.T. to the right. The new sign for the Bunion had an apostrophe, i.e. Charlie’s Bunion. Who put that apostrophe in? I worry about things like that.
The Bunion area was busy with a teenage group, a church group and several families. But we didn’t have to wait our turn to climb the Bunion. See the picture above.
On the way back, we turned right to see the Jump-Off. A new sign directs hikers to the short trail to Mt. Kephart (no view) and the Jump-Off. On better viewing days, you can see Charlies Bunion from here.
A great hike. Friends of the Smokies will be leading this hike on Tuesday August 12. Call the Friends Office at 828-452-0720 to register and come on out.