Friday July 13th 2018
Today was full of many changed plans. I got a later start to the day than I originally planed, but set out on my plan for the day anyway. My goal was to hike to Grotto Falls which is located off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The motor trail is a loop road from the center of Gatlingburg. Perhaps because of my late start, but more likely because it is summer tourist season, it took me over half an hour to travel the mile and a half through Gatlinburg. Then I missed the turn. I was in the wrong lane and my visibility was blocked by a trolly until I was most of the way through the intersection.
My first change of plans was to head into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park on route 441 and see some of the sites along the road as it climbed the northwest side of the mountain range. The views of the mountains were spectacular. The clouds were kissing the top of the mountains just like smoke. You could see one of the reasons behind the name for the region. At my second stop along my way up the mountains, I had a revelation. If I kept going into the park, I stood a good chance of running out of gas. The stop and go traffic through Gatlinburg really drained my tank.
Change in plans number two was to turn around and head for a gas station on the other side of Gatlinburg. Using the bypass through the park to avoid Gatlinburg the ten miles to the gas station went quickly. I only had a little over a gallon in the tank based on the amount I put in. The second part of this change in plans was to continue north back to camp. I didn’t want to fight my way back into Gatlinburg only to find the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and its parking lots loaded with cars.
I’ll try to get an earlier start tomorrow and target a trail in an area of the park that I don’t have to go through the heavy traffic to reach the trail head. It may not make difference. Judging by this campground the number of people in the area on the weekend my have quadrupled. This campground wasn’t very full during the week. Starting shortly after the breakfast hour today, RVs have been arriving at a steady rate. The campground has also been busy moving trailers out of storage onto sites so the owners can spend the weekend. One got placed on the site beside me and the owners arrived from Georgia this afternoon. I can only imagine what the traffic is going to be like tomorrow.