Day 11

Sunday, June 5, 2005Norcross, GA
Miles: 1794Health: Excellent!
Another night in the tent, this one made slightly better by the flat surface and the dual sleeping bags. We got out of the campground early, and a good thing. The main road was pretty crowded, and we took our time stopping to look at overlooks. We also stopped at Newfound Gap, the largest and most popular overlook, and also climbed a ridiculously steep .5 mile path up to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains, the oddly named Clingman’s Dome. Sadly, as we crested the hill to the parking lot, fog started rolling in around the mountains and soon all views were obliterated. What is it with our luck with high places? We took pictures anyway. We hiked part of the Appalachian Trail while we were at Newfound Gap, and met many other hikers along the way. They were much better outfitted than we were, but were friendly and less insane than the masses at the parking lot.

After we got out of the park, we decided to head straight to Norcross and Ceridwen’s brother and sister-in-law’s house, rather than making a side trip to Chattanooga. Along the way we stopped to ‘mine’ for gems in Franklin, NC. This amounted to buying a bucket of sand for $5 and then dumping it into a wood and mesh strainer and letting running water wash the sand away from the planted flecks of garnet, sapphire, ruby, citrine, amethyst and bunch of other stuff. They man running the mining operation was very cool and knowledgeable about rocks, and made many comments about God’s design for the stones, but not in an annoying, bible thumping way.

We finally made it to Norcross and hung out before getting to bed rather later than we really wanted.

Alas, our batteries were deader than dead by this time, but there are "old-timey" photos of the North Carolinian side of the Great Smokey Mountains. And whatnot.