Day 17 - Benton MacKaye Trail

We slept in a little later this morning and didn't leave until 9:30.  We passed campsite 74 and it was still packed with kids running around.  We were glad we stayed down by the lake instead!  We had about 3 miles to do of ups and downs like the end of yesterday before coming to the tunnel at the Road to Nowhere.  We walked through in a cool breeze and managed to avoid the piles of horse poop.  That has been the most annoying thing about the Smokies' BMT is that it's most horse trail.  When we came out at the other side the parking lot was completely packed and there were people everywhere!  I guess that's what happens when you end up in a national park on Memorial Day weekend! 

 A rare photo of us together! 

A rare photo of us together! 

 

We did a little road walking here to our next trailhead and ended up following an old road bed uphill for the next 8 miles.  The walking went pretty fast and we followed Noland Creek the whole way, fording it a few times along the way.  People thought we were nuts for just walking through the creek with our shoes on, but it felt great to get cold feet for a bit. We took a break at campsite 61 and met a dad who had been hiking all day with three young kids.  That's a brave man! They had a tough uphill day and the kids were overjoyed to be at the campsite.  From here, it was just one more mile uphill before we finally began walking downhill for the first time all day.  

 Noland Creek Trail has so much water! 

Noland Creek Trail has so much water! 

Since we already had wet feet, Pole Road Creek Trail didn't bother us.  It was tough on our feet because the trail was so eroded and rocky, but we made it down the 3.4 miles pretty quickly.  We crossed a really cool log footbridge and had only a quarter mile to our campsite for the night.  We reached campsite 56 and met Eagle and Fat Camp.  We had an awesome night hanging out with these two guys who kept giving us food and whiskey they wanted to get out of their packs as it was their last night on trail!  We ate lots of chocolate and drank whiskey around a campfire until nearly 11 pm with these two guys.  It was the first time we actually got to hang out with anyone in a campsite and we had a blast meeting them.  We have another long uphill tomorrow morning and those two are getting up crazy early because they have to drive 8.5 hours home after the 13-mile hike out!

 NoKey crossing Deep Creek on a foot bridge

NoKey crossing Deep Creek on a foot bridge

 Fat Camp and Eagle at campsite 56. 

Fat Camp and Eagle at campsite 56.