Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gatlinburg sucks us in, Part 1

10-30-09 day 150
start: Ice Water Spring Shelter, GSMNP
end: Grand Prix Motel @ Gatlinburg, TN
daily mileage: 3.0
total mileage: 1973.6

 We got up nice and early this morning with big plans: we were going to hike 3 miles into Gatlinburg, resupply, and then hitch back up and hike 4.5 miles out that day. It's tough to make big miles on a resupply day, but this was a reasonable plan, right?

We made it to Newfound Gap where we met lots of day hikers and tourists. We really impressed one couple who met us just as we were coming out of the woods into the big parking lot there... they took our picture and everything! Then we met up with a nice guy who turned out to be the pastor of a nearby church, and even though he wasn't headed to Gatlinburg he gave us bunches of snacks and gum and fancy flavored water. Cool! It took a little while to find someone to give us a hitch, and when we finally did it was with a great group of people who went a bit out of their way to get us into town (they were really headed to Pigeon Forge).

We explored Gatlinburg for a little while before settling into a Shoneys for lunch (we hit it at just the right time when they had their lunch buffet out but hadn't taken in their breakfast buffet yet, so we got 2 for 1!!). Gatlinburg is very weird. I don't actually think I like it very much - I don't know, it's just pretty bizarre. I guess it became such a tourist town because of the smokies, but it didn't seem like many of the people there were the outdoorsy type. In fact, the town is not at all outdoorsy - it's really just a mega tourist mecca. But if you want Old Timey Photos or ninja gear, this is the place for you. There were about 7 or 8 separate shops for each... not joking. It seems like people now come primarily because of the touristy stuff, which is a bit odd... it's this town tons of people come to visit all the time, but only because there is lots of touristy stuff which is only in that location because people visit it all the time.

Anyway, we enjoyed walking around and finally took the cheap and convenient trolley up to the library, way up on the other end of town. The librarians were dressed up as vampires for Halloween: very startling. After spending several hours there updating the blog (and letting much of the day pass us by), we figured it was really time to get going if we were going to hit the trail. But then, we saw the poster.

Vampire movie night, tonight at the library! Interview with a Vampire, and (more importantly) Dracula! Wow! I had just read Dracula, and Sea Monster was in the process of reading it at the time. We clearly had to stay just one night to attend this cinematic tour de force. The vampire librarians were very helpful at finding us the cheapest hiker motel, and after going to the grocery to resupply we got a ride there from some great trail angels named Steve and Wendy. Soon we were getting our first motel room on the whole trail. The Grand Prix was pretty great, and we enjoyed our showers and laundry. We watched some of the Munsters (which is hilarious) and soon departed for the vampire movie night.

The library was at the complete opposite end of town, and the map of town is NOT to scale, so we spent about an hour walking most of the distance there because we thought it would be faster than riding the trolley. Of course, just as we were getting to the library, the trolley arrived just in time to beat us and rub it in our faces. We watched Interview with a Vampire (good, if pretty weird) and were all excited for Dracula when we realized that the trolley would stop running before the movie was over! We really didn't want to walk all the way back to the motel, so we had to skip out early and make it back to the motel. It was pretty great laying in bed watching movies and TV shows until the wee hours of the morning, though...

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