Sunday, March 18, 2018

Smoky Mountains (WW # 137)



The purpose of this linkup is to
support active women.
Have you read the UPDATED RULES ??

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Our spring break week fell apart.  The kids' schedules weren't working with a lengthy trip, so we didn't follow through with our original idea.  But, our college son wanted to go hiking so I hopped on board. PoPo volunteered to stay home with the dogs and do some things around the house {thank you, honey!}. Off to the Smoky Mountains we went.

We stayed in a cabin in Gatlinburg our first two nights...not because we wanted to "do Gatlinburg" (been there done that a few times) but because it was close to the trails we wanted to hike.  We arrived Wednesday just before sunset and captured some amazing pictures.

Sunset in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park


The first full day of hiking was quite treacherous.  Wearing my new Mizuno trail shoes with Michelin (yep, the tire) spiked soles, I had no problems with the steepness, excessive mud (oh my, at the mud!) water crossings or the snow.  But the ice?  These two hikes took so much longer to complete just to navigate the ice.

Hike 1Rainbow Falls - 6.2 miles - 2,330 elevation gain

Hike 2: Chimney Tops - 3.6 miles - 1,456 elevation gain

The second day of hiking was much easier.  Thankfully, we had very little ice to contend with.  By far, our favorite trail of the entire trip was our morning hike to Alum Cave.  We were delighted by the many geological features on this hike culminating with Alum Cave, which really wasn't a cave.  Pictured below is a tunnel on the way to the cave-that-wasn't.  

Hike 3: Alum Caves - 4.4 miles - 1,310 elevation gain


Alum "Cave" - More of an overhang but very impressive!  See the tiny hikers?

Hike 4:  Laurel Falls - 3.0 miles - 409 Elevation Gain

After two solid days and 17 plus miles of steep hiking, we drove across the state to Chattanooga where I barely limped ran the Raccoon Mountain half marathon while my son ran the 10k.  To prepare for my upcoming downhill marathon, I pushed on the downhills and took it easy on the ups.  My quads cried the whole time [see entire post devoted to hiking and elevation gain].  It was a fun event with awesome and unique swag.  We did some sightseeing there as well.  It's just too much for one post so I'll leave it here.  

I'll give you just one teaser.  From the Raccoon Mountain race site:  

"The course is NOT flat and not fast. 
Hills keep things interesting and easy is boring!   
Don’t expect to PR here.  DO expect to have a great time!"  

... {GULP} ...


And that's a wrap!

Have you visited the Smoky Mountains?  Where?

Do you like to hike?  Favorite trail?



88 comments:

  1. The Smoky Mountains look beautiful. I really want to get some hikes in this year, or perhaps some longer trail runs. There is a long ancient road near me which is about 80 miles long and goes through some beautiful parts of the country. I've ran or walked parts of it and feel I need to do some more.

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    1. Sadly, I don’t have many trails close to home. I really enjoy hiking too. Great cross training.

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  2. What amazing pics! I'd love to do some serious hiking like that...but Iowa does not have much in terms of mountains LOL Did I miss the heads-up on your race? I'll be eagerly waiting to hear about it!

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    1. It’s so pretty in the Smokies. The race was a last minute I-need-to- run-long-anyway decision. It ended up a really fun event, after the downpour and lightning delayed the start.

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  3. Wow. Smoky Mountains looks beautiful! I am planning a girls trip in June. And Smoky Mountains is one of the options. Thanks for hosting the weekly wrap as always.

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    1. Gatlinburg has tons of things to do. So does Chattanooga. You would not be disappointed with either one.

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  4. Wow those photos are amazing. Looks like such a great way to spend time with your son. Can't believe you had the energy to run a half marathon after that!

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    1. I didn’t have the energy (or fresh legs) to do that half. But I crossed the finish line anyway. LOL. It was fun.

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  5. That sunset is beautiful! Looks like you had a nice little trip. Great job on running your half after all that hiking!

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    1. We were delighted to catch that sunset. We were in the right place at the right time.

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  6. I have visited the Great Smokey Mountains, but not for years. I am "considering" running the Smokey Mountain Half on September 8th. Any interest in joining me?

    Thanks for the linkup!

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    1. I bet that will be a beautiful course. I ran Gateway to the Smokies a while back. The elevation was pretty intense. Not sure the date would work, but I’ll keep it in mind.

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  7. Your pictures are amazing! What a fun trip and I admit to a little mom envy... I really missed the boys on this trip. Looking forward to your recap!

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    1. When I get old (ahem) and can’t run any longer, I’m going to hike my little heart out. Appalachian Trail here I come. Want to join me?

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  8. I'm down with not PRing when the race is scenic. We were in the Gatlinburg/ Smoky Mountains quite a few years ago & loved it. We did some hiking, but it was before the internet really and we just didn't have enough info so we did not get to see as much scenery as you.

    I really do not want to thru hike (and I've read a lot about it) but day hike -- yes, please!

    Congrats on another half. I'm envious of pretty much anyone who is on vacation right now!

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    1. I knew after hiking the race would have to be a slow training run. And I was perfectly OK approaching it that way. We found a few awesome sites that were very helpful in making the decision on which trails to hike.

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  9. All your pictures look amazing! What a fun trip to take. Although its too bad it was still icy! Congrats on the half, but that course description sounds pretty intimidating!

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    1. There were some long and steep hills in the race, but I appreciated being able to practice the long down hills for my next marathon.

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  10. The Smokies have never been on my radar but I think you just put it there for me! Looks beautiful! We love to hike so maybe we need to plan a trip. And can't wait to hear about this lovely half you ran!

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    1. There is so much to do in the area for all ages. Your family would love it. We can't wait to go back and hike other trails.

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  11. What a fun mother-son adventure! Your pictures are gorgeous and the hikes sound hardcore. And to run a race right after... wow. How awesome to share this experience with one of your boys!

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    1. These hikes were hard for us since we aren't experienced hikers. We saw part of the famous Appalachian Trail which makes me even more impressed with the people who tackle that tremendous challenge.

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  12. Wow that looks gorgeous! I'm glad you got to spend time together. To run a race after that hiking is no joke, nice job!

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    1. I had no choice but to take it easy with that half and have fun. Mission accomplished.

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  13. I have never been to the Smokey Mountains but now I want to go. You're pictures are absolutely beautiful!! Looks like a great way to spend time with your son!

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    1. It is the perfect getaway for someone like me who just enjoys being outside and seeing the sights. We are already planning our next hiking trip.

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  14. Wow! You were busy this week with all that hiking and a half! I can't say my spring break was quite as eventful. :) I admire you for tackling those hills. It's so flat around here they'd eat me alive!

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    1. I think the hiking was really great cross training. The elevation gains were certainly no joke and kept that heart rate high without any pounding.

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  15. Gorgeous! I used to go to the smoky mountains for spring break every year when I was a kid, but I haven't been there in years.

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    1. They've really added a lot of attractions in Gatlinburg over the years. We didn't do anything in town but eat, spending all of our time in the woods. But, there is definitely something for everyone.

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  16. I love all of your photos from your hiking adventures and glad to hear that the Mizuno trail sneakers worked pretty well! That's a bummer that schedules didn't allow for a long vacation, but it looks like you still had an awesome time this week!

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    1. I found the heavily discounted Mizuno trail shoes on Amazon. They were the perfect choice! Very lightweight. Everyone else was slipping in the mud. Not me! I was thrilled with them.

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  17. Glad you had fun. I don't do much hiking, but there are always great views.

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    1. This son was with me when I went to Utah last year. We fell in love with hiking while there. I think he loves being outside as much as I do.

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  18. What a beautiful place to hike, wow! And then race...you must have been exhausted! We just finished our March Break and went skiing, skate x 3 each!! I'm spent!

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    1. We were supposed to go snow skiing but couldn't work it out with everyone's scheduled. I was pretty sad about that initially, but really enjoyed this trip.

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  19. That is some serious hiking! And those views are spectacular. How awesome that's how your son wanted to spend his time off. <3 <3

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    1. These hikes were pretty steep but well worth the effort. I'm very grateful when any of my kids want to spend time with me.

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  20. What a gorgeous place to hike! Stunning pics. I've never been to the Smoky Mountains or on a hiking vacay. And you ran a hilly half after?? Badass!

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    1. You should go on a family vacay in the Smokies. There is so much to do and see! The kid and I loved those hikes in Utah so much we wanted to repeat the experience.

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  21. Those mountains are beautiful! What a great place to hike! And, holy moley you raced after all that hiking?! Wowza!

    Thanks for the link-up!

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    1. I wouldn't call it racing...I RAN (slowly) after the hiking. LOL. My quads complained the whole time too.

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  22. That is gorgeous! We used to do a lot of hiking before the kids were born- I look forward to more hiking (with them) at some point!

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    1. Hikes 3 and 4 were pretty kid friendly. It was wonderful to see families with smaller children out there hiking together!

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  23. I'm so jealous of your hiking! It looks so beautiful out there. I've never been to those mountains before and it has been a while since I went hiking! I do enjoy it as long as it's not too intense.

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    1. I hope we can do more hiking, maybe as an annual trip.

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  24. Beautiful pictures! The Smoky Mountain NP is the last east coast park I have to visit, can't wait to make it there :) Also, I looked at the Raccoon Mountain race site 1. that course sounds brutal and 2. the aid station almost makes up for it! Have a great week!

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    1. The aid stations ended being like the ones they have on Century Rides. You know...sit a spell and relax and dig into all kinds of delicious snacks.

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  25. I haven't been to Gatlinburg in ages! It is so beautiful and I miss it!

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    1. It really has grown over the years. There is something for all ages and interests.

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  26. I've added hiking in the Smokey Mtns. to my bucket list! I was there years ago, but wasn't a hiker then. Time to go back.

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    1. When the kids were small, we did easy hikes. It's fun now that they are all grown to do more technical trails.

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  27. Wow at hiking on ice, but those views are fantastic. I was in the Smokey Mountains when I was a teenager and they are definitely beautiful.

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    1. I was shocked at how much ice was still on the mountain trails! It wasn't that cold. I guess some places never see the sunlight.

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  28. Oh my goodness those photos are amazing! I would love to go hiking in the mountains. I've never had the opportunity- there are no mountains in Florida and I haven't taken a vacation anywhere there are mountains. However, it's definitely on my list of places to go check out!

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    1. These would probably be the closest ones to you. Or maybe the cities of Helen or Dalonega in North Georgia. It's nice in that area too.

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  29. What an adventurous and fun way to spend spring break...but then you ran a half marathon??!! Woman you are way stronger than I.

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    1. Limped is more like it. I couldn't pass on the personalized medal or the coonskin cap, could I?

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  30. Can't wait to hear about the race! We are hoping to plan a family trip to the gaitlinburg/ pigeon forge area!

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    1. You won't be disappointed. Gatlinburg still has that small town charm but there are so many things to do as well.

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  31. Now I can't wait to read your recap of Racoon Mountain after that teaser, but at least the race was honest on the website. Besides, if you want to choose a PR/goal race, one in the mountains probably isn't at the top of the list- especially if it's a desination race. The pictures are beautiful, though, and I love Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. I feel like Pigeon Forge is a bit more tourist-trappy and Gatlinburg is more authentic mountain town! I haven't been in a few years but would love to go back, the mountains are just so beautiful.

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    1. We've never stayed overnight in the Pigeon Forge area but I agree with you. It looks more touristy on a long strip of highway than Gatlinburg's quaint mountain town appeal.

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  32. Oh, that sounds amazing, even though it took some finagling to make happen! We went to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge once. It was during the summer, though and little man was still pretty young. We hiked the mile to the top of Clingman's Dome, but that was about it. Based on these photos, I would just love to go back!

    That race sounds pretty crazy, too! I love that it called itself out for being challenging, and I know you took it all in stride!

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    1. We didn't go out to Clingman's Dome and I later saw it was closed anyway. I'm not sure if it was due to ice in the area or the forest fires from last summer.

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  33. Wow, what a beautiful place to enjoy some quality time with your son! Even though it wasn't your original plan for the week, I'm glad to hear that you were able to make the trip possible.

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    1. If I can spend time with family, be outside, breathe fresh air, feel the sunshine, and do something active -- I will never complain.

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  34. Wow- what beautiful pictures! I love that you were able to spend this quality time with your son on his spring break. Great memories for you both. :)

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    1. It's always a treat to spend time with any of my kids. I'm lucky to have enjoyed one on one trips with all of them.

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  35. Sounds like a fun hiking trip with your son! I probably would have turned around at the first sight of ice!! And then you ran a half marathon the day after 2 days of intense hiking?! Wow!! You are amazing. :)

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    1. We say so many people falling on the ice and in the mud. I struggled with the ice but my son actually had a worse time in the mud. Both were so slippery.

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  36. Looks like you went on some awesome trails! Love the pics! Great job on what sounds like a tough race! Congrats!

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    1. The race was hilly (as expected) so I just took my time and had fun.

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  37. Love your photos. We used to go to the Smokies at least once a year for epic hikes from Clingman's Dome (which I assume is closed right now). Water crossings are hard when you're carrying so much gear and I'm always really sore after hiking in the park, so I'm super impressed you ran a race after!!

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    1. Yes, I later saw Clingman's Dome was closed but I didn't read why. We had not planned to go out there anyway. It's weird -- a big blob of concrete spoils the beauty in my opinion. LOL.

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  38. Your photos are beautiful! I visited the Smoky Mountains a long time ago, before I was interested in hiking. I am impressed that you ran a half marathon after two days of hiking - when we go on backpacking trips, I usually need a day of rest or an easy run for my legs to recover!

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    1. I knew going into the half it would be an easy training run after our hiking. We were having so much fun hiking, we just couldn't stop.

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  39. I've never visited the Smoky mountains but wow they look amazing! Hope your quads are feeling better! I'd love to go on vacation ASAP!

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    1. I honeymooned there many ages ago Janelle. It's a great area to visit! Don't you have one of those coming up soon?

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  40. Those views are amazing! I just wish that I could take a weekend away in nature just to walk/hike/run around :)

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    1. It really is a great way to "unplug" especially since our phones had no service on those trails anyway! LOL. I love spending time outdoors.

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  41. Love the pictures and the Smokey's! Glad you and your college boy had a great trip!

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    1. It was fun. Any time spent with a kid is always cherished. We may have to make it an annual thing.

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  42. Great pics. We have been to Great Smokey Mtn. National Park twice. Loved it both times.We stayed in Gatlinburg, hiked, swam and learned history in the park. I have also been looking at the Raccoon Mtn. half and have a downhill marathon coming up in August. Enjoyed your post very much!

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    1. There is really something for everyone in that area, whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or not. The Smokies are so unique and make for stunning colors at sunrise and sunset.

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  43. Gosh I visited the Smokey Mountains for my 8th grade class trip back in the mid 90s! Your pics are STUNNING!
    That race sounds intense! But really nice to see a race that is simply for fun :)

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    1. I think it's time for you to return to that area. We could have stayed on for days and just kept hiking.

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  44. GORGEOUS photos of your Smokey Mountains hike. Love it. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks. Really, the picture do not do this trip justice.

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