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All of my trips are special but the ones with Susan are indeed rare and precious to me.
As I wrote last year, I find it deeply satisfying to simultaneously enjoy my favorite person and passion.
Once again it happened and we got our adventure on over Memorial Day Weekend! This time we chose the GSMNP.
We dropped the car at the end of the hike and paid a shuttle to take us to the start.
The weather was outstanding!
Here was Susan at the first overlook along the trail.
Red Trillium (for Rick)
We think this is a wild hydrangea, (Gonzan)?
This tree on the edge of the trail had limbs that framed a view.
Susan was climbing up to a favorite off trail overlook here.
The sand myrtle was already blooming and will be brighter by summer.
Views from the days lunch spot which was almost precarious but completely fun.
Our lily white skin was starting to burn so we sought some shade for a while and sat on a mossy rock face under trees.
Susan was peering over the ledge in a pretty strong wind here. It was a long way down.
Lily family we think?
Bluets in weeds.
This was a bird egg in a surprisingly low nest.
Susan thought this tree was Entish (from Tolkien).
This was day 1 camp.
What a great day.
The next morning brought a few hours of rain which we dodged in and out of while breaking camp and making breakfast, etc... But when the hiking started we had none at all; how cool is that?
There was some wind in spots but the hiking was outstanding.
We eventually went down in elevation to check out a river valley.
I caught Susan admiring some trailside flora.
The weather fell in line with our plans to show us some sunshine.
This was a big blister beetle.
Streams got bigger as we descended.
Thumbs-up is good! The cool water was nice to clean off the trail dirt with.
And here was day 2 camp
Much of the afternoon was devoted to lazing ‘bout the creek.
And here is dinner time with enthusiasm!
And the rest of the story……
After dinner (about 8:30 PM near dusk) we were visited by a big black bear that somehow got within 20 feet of us before we noticed it.
We tried to scare it away by yelling and clacking our poles but it was less than impressed. It slowly circled behind some brush but didn’t leave. So after hanging our food (luckily I had strung a bear line much earlier) we slowly circled away.
We hiked up the trail to an area where we knew some other backpackers were and recruited them to help us try to scare the bear away. Well that didn’t work either. The bear just backed off a little and waited.
We were only a few miles away from our car at that point having planned a short day 3 exit hike, so we made the decision to bail out of the spot. There was no way Susan was going to relax after our visit.
We hiked by headlamp back to our car.
I was a little frustrated in that Susan’s first multi-night trip in the Smokies was cut short and slightly afraid it would scare her off of future trips. I mean, I’ve pulled dozens upon dozens of trips in the park and these kinds of bear experiences are really rare, so what is the chance that the first long trip she makes has one? Arrgghh
But in hindsight there was much adventure in the experience and it’s also somewhat fitting.
Early bail out notwithstanding it was a fabulous trip and will go down as another all time favorite for me because I shared it with my wife.