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GoldenBear

It wasn't much -- but it was SOMETHING

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I'm far from alone in having had plans for hiking on the A.T. this year disrupted by Covid-19. My home state of Pennsylvania, for example, strongly urges people who travel to Covid hot-spots to quarantine for 14 days after returning. And New England states require such a quarantine for any visitor from outside the area. Thus, travels to those parts of The Trail I want to walk on will require quite a bit of quarantine.
In addition, my mother's long journey with dementia ended this last month, requiring me to fly cross-country to California (a hot-spot!) in order to (1) meet with her ONE LAST TIME and (2) attend her memorial with my brothers.
Between these two restrictions, traveling out of state to walk on a trail has most definitely been put on my back burner. When combined with the fact that those parts of the A.T. I have not walked on require over ten hours of driving to get to, it's not easy to arrange a series of days I can do serious hiking.

Last week, however, I managed to find enough days to get close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), get in some real hiking, and get back before family responsibilities took over.
With sleeping quarters like this
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and meals like this
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this hiking was hardly backpacking. But it WAS walking past the white blazes, so it counts!

Last year's walks had taken me as far south as the Standing Bear Hostel, so I decided to start there. On my drive-down day, I had left early enough, and made sufficiently good time, that I had enough daylight to walk from Pigeon River to Standing Bear and back. On my next day I hiked from Pigeon River to the junction between the A.T. and the Lower Camerer Trail (LCT), and then return.
The third day was going to be a bit more a challenge: start at Cosby Campground, hike up the Low Gap Trail to the A.T., hike The Trail to LCT, and then go down the latter back to Cosby Campground. I had thoughts of doing this last year, but hearing that the Low Gap Trail was like hiking Mount Moosilauke, I deferred.
The fact is that going up this trail does require a fair amount of vertical climb, but it's on a well-built, easily-followed trail -- no steps, no hand rails, no real dangers. I walked its three miles in less than three hours (VERY good for me!) and headed for the LCT.
Last year I was worried about being on an exposed ridge line in the rain; but, again, this simply wasn't the case. True, this part of the A.T. is not easy, but it's not exposed, either. I made it to the LCT by about noon, meaning I had well over eight hours to walk its 7.5 mile length. Because this trail goes gently downhill, I had no trouble getting back to Cosby in about five hours.

I was happy to note that I never felt any major pains during these walks, despite being terribly out of shape. It was a mere 9.7 miles in total, but it was SOME miles. I'm hoping I can squeeze a few more before year's end.

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