However, Wayne was not to be deterred, so off we went. I took 95 pictures, got it down to 56 on my first pass through the group, and now have it down to a respectable 26. Hope you have your eyes all rested up for the show.
The trail starts off by crossing the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Gorgeous? Yeah! I have a few shots set aside of this spot for another day. It was so pretty we came back again.
One thing this trail is not short on is stairs. We climbed up quite a few sections on our ascent. These stone and wood stair sections were added to help stop erosion of the trail. They are spaced nicely and didn't cause the knee discomfort that some other stairs have caused us elsewhere.
There are a couple of more bridges before things start getting really steep, enjoy the peaceful spots while you can!
As things got steeper, my heart started going thumpety-thump and at times was beating so hard that I could actually HEAR it in my ears. I had Wayne stop and put his hand on my chest. He laughed at me because before we left for this trip I kept telling him he was too out of shape for this kind of terrain. Guess who's heartbeat I couldn't even find even though he was sweating pretty good? But maybe that's because mine was beating so hard it just made it hard to find his. I was, however, encouraged by the regularity of my loud heartbeat. No arrhythmia anyway!
Our admirable NPS employees were on the job making repairs to the trail and monitoring the trail cams. We gave them the enthusiastic welcome back to work that is becoming our mantra. They smiled genuine grins and expressed their joy with their job that lets them spend their days in such a glorious location.
I used the camera as an excuse to stop and rest often. I even snuck in a kiss or two to slow Wayne down. All is fair in love and hiking.
By the time I knew we had to be nearing our destination my legs were going shakety-shake along with my heart going thumpety-thump. The lesson here is you can only prepare so much for elevation when you live in the Midwest. Imagine if I hadn't tried to prepare at all!
|Chimney Tops is one of the few mountains in the Smokies with a bare rock summit|
I went as far as the lady to the far right in the above photo. When the trail ended and scrambling up bare vertical rock began I declared my summit reached. Wayne soldiered on. I called him an idiot, but it was too much for someone who climbs electric poles for a living to resist.
My view as I waited for my husband to return or die.
All downhill sounds great...until your legs start quivering and your ankles start hurting from all that momentum you're trying to resist. I can hear Linda in Oregon laughing at me now. She did 14 miles of mountain the other day.
The lady at the bottom of this staircase was wearing a pair of moccasins. I told her I hoped she wasn't going far in those. She told me she hikes in them all the time. Since we weren't that far from the parking lot at that point I hope her idea of hiking is nothing like mine because that was just a sprained ankle waiting to happen!