Even though the forecast said Day 3 would be sunny, it was cloudy! :’ ( I was lucky that there was little to no rain. The first real hike I was gonna do in the Smoky Mountains was Charlie’s Bunion, which is about 8.7 miles roundtrip. Since I slept in the parking lot and woke up just as the sun was rising, I was the third person to start the trail for that day!
I saw a couple of cool things along the way! The trail there wasn’t bad at all. Having done all my prior hiking on O’ahu, I’m used to super duper steep inclines and bare mountain ridges. So this was nice. I ended up passing the second group of people on the trail, which made me the second person at Charlie’s Bunion. It’s a pretty popular trail, so it was cool that I was able to be there alone for a couple of minutes. It just sucked that there were so many clouds. It did clear up just a bit while I was there, so I was able to snap a few photos.
Since my feet weren’t really hurting and I felt fine, I decided to check out the Jump-Off. I was hoping by the time I got there, the clouds would’ve cleared up. It’s about another 2 miles or so roundtrip to do the Jump-Off. It also wasn’t bad. But ooooh those clouds were bad!! When I got there, it was even worse than it was at Charlie’s Bunion! I waited around for two hours hoping it would clear up, but this is all I could see 😦
The walk back was also pretty easy. I was glad that I went early in the morning, since there were a lot of people going in while I was going out. It did start to clear up some while I was leaving, which was unfortunate. My feet didn’t start to hurt until around the last 10 minutes of hiking! I couldn’t believe it. It really feels amazing to see how far I’ve come. A girl who thought she was incapable of hiking goes on to hike 11 miles with ease. My heart was soaring.
It was definitely, definitely going to be sunny on Day 4, so I planned to do Gregory Bald. I heard that the azaleas on Gregory Bald bloom around mid-June. It was still early June, but I was hoping that maybe they would bloom early with all the rain. I spent the rest of the day getting lost trying to find the trailhead. There’s little to no phone service in the park !! After driving around 200 miles (don’t ask me how), I spent the night outside of Cades Cove.