We decided to celebrate Heather's Spring Break by taking a 3-day backpacking trip in the Smokies, our first trip of the year. We chose a two-night loop beginning and ending at Smokemont, near Cherokee on the North Carolina side.
Our first hike started out with a spitting rain. With the trees bare of leaves, each line of sight ended in the mist, setting a mysterious mood. Only the laurels and moss provided color to the forest.
We passed no other hikers on the way up to Upper Chasteen Creek (site 48).
Camping at Upper Chasteen Creek was a game of improvisation. Having forgotten her spoon, Heather fashioned one out of a broken, rounded stick. We sanitized it with a flame from the stove, and were back in business in time for dinner.
The campground was too damp for a campfire, so we set up the tent immediately. We passed enough bear signs on the hike up that we took extra precautions to stay safe, cooking far away from our tent site. Between the roaring streams and thick mist, our senses played tricks with us and we were constantly double-taking at rocks and bushes that looked like bears. Fortunately we didn't encounter any.
When it came time to put our packs up in the bear cables, Heather realized she'd forgotten the trash bag that we usually use to keep our gear dry overnight. She improvised, dressing her bag in her raincoat and rainpants. Every time we glimpsed the bag in the corners of our eyes, we'd swear it was a bear, up in a tree, waiting for us.