Day 2 begins with us saying goodbye to campsite 29 and praying for better views. We left camp at 9:15 and the fog had begun to lift, but the sun hadn’t quite shown through. Since yesterday we went downhill to camp, we began with a 1000’ in 1.5 miles hike up to the Snake Den Ridge Trail. The sun started to shine and by the time we reached Maddron Bald the views were absolutely stunning. JD arrived first and was up on the bald when I got there. I headed up and took some photos of Old Black and the clouds blowing up the mountains. Greg and Lydia soon arrived and we headed up to the trailhead together.
After reaching Snake Den once again, we only had 0.7 miles up to the AT and the site of the 1984 F4 plane crash. JD has been to this area before and was telling us about all the debris we could see, but since everything was so grown up and green, it was missed on our hike. We reached the crash site and ran into three guys hiking down to Davenport Gap and wished them well. We continued uphill to Deer Creek Gap where there is a helipad on the trail and skirted around Old Black. Our plan for the day was to find the cairn that lead up the manway to the summit of Old Black and follow this manway to the summit of Mt. Guyot (6370’ and 6621’, respectively). After swinging around the side of Old Black and not seeing the manway, we continued on to Mt. Guyot and looked for the cairn. Again, we didn’t see it and decided to bushwhack our way to the top as one of us in the group was doing the South Beyond 6K.
Bushwhacking up Guyot was tough considering we all had full packs on. Given the bear situation this year, the fact they have nothing to eat, and the fact that we’d never find our packs again if we set them down, we hauled them all the way up to the summit. We climbed up nearly 0.5 miles and finally made it to the top. We could see a stand of dead fir trees and by using GPS we knew the benchmark for the summit was right in the middle. The only thing between us and the summit was substantial blowdown. We tried to navigate it and came within 20 feet or so of the summit before deciding we couldn’t do any more than we had already done. We took a few photos of Old Black through the trees and headed back down.
From here to Tricorner, where we stopped for lunch, it was nearly level and then began a gradual downhill descent to the shelter. We stopped in for lunch and a refill of our water. We met some college guys hiking down to Cosby and wished them well and began another uphill to the top of Mt. Chapman, the fourth-highest peak in the Smokies at 6417’. From here, there was some undulation to Mt. Sequoya (5945’) and down nearly 500’ to Copper Gap. We then climbed back up that 500’ to Eagle Rocks and there were spectacular views into the valley below and we could even see Douglas Lake in the distance. By now, we were all getting pretty tired and were ready to make it to camp for the night. The last 1.4 miles were all downhill to Pecks Corner Shelter and we busted it out to get there at 5 p.m. There were three other hikers there that night, two guys that were thru hikers and coming back to cover some ground again and a third guy who lived in the area and was working on his fifth park map. For those who don’t know, hikers often keep copies of a trail map and mark off the trails as they go. This guy had hiked all the trails in the park four times and was working on his fifth pass. There are close to 800 miles of maintained trail in the park as of today to give you an idea of how many there are “per map.” Add up all the other trails you do a lot more than four or five times and you’ve got tons of miles!
Day 2 was an amazing day that wore us out. We were all in our sleeping bags by 9 p.m.