Riding the Wind: a Gregory Bald experience

We knew we needed to see the the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) in the Spring.  And we knew we wanted to continue exploring the outer reaches of the Park.

I had big decisions weighing on my mind and (again) wanted to see what answers I could find in Nature and walking.

Fontana Lake with GSMNP behind it.  Seen along the drive to our trailhead at Twenty Mile Ranger Station.  April 2018.

Gregory Bald is near the Appalachian Trail (right side of map) but not on it.  Day 1 (pink) 2.2 miles.  Day 2 (yellow) 12 miles.  Day 3 (red) 2.5 miles.

Twenty Mile Cascade, GMSNP, April 2018.

Crested dwarf iris.  April 2018.

Homemade tarp at campsite 93 along Twenty Mile Creek.  GSMNP April 2018.  Trip gear review here.

On the bald grassy summit of Gregory Bald, 4,949 feet.  The rest of GSMNP is behind us to the right. Picture taken after our 3 hour summit break.  GSMNP, April 2018.

Gregory Bald’s grassy summit, 4,949 feet, and evidence of plate tectonics. The rest of the Park’s mountains (including Clingman’s Dome, the highest on the entire Appalachian Trail) are pictured in the background.

Shoelaces for scale: Spring Beauty wildflowers carpeted the forest in all directions, approaching Gregory Bald on the Long Hungry Ridge Trail,  GSMNP, April 2018.

At camp in time for sunset.  Campsite 95, GSMNP, April 2018.  Trip gear review here.

The Park texted me before the trip, warning us about a downed bridge.  At 40 degF air temperature and about one mile from the car, Dylan (above) crosses our last (but longest and deepest) creek.  However, this trip’s water crossings were pale in comparison to our trip on Eagle Creek Trail in November 2017.  GSMNP, April 2018.

Wet feet, shoes, and socks give you a new appreciation for everything that the Park (and its awesome, knowledgeable rangers) provides for backcountry travelers.  Thank you so much, America, for sharing and protecting this Treasure, Together!

Arriving home on the 3rd day, my oldest daughter welcomed me with a bouquet of white clover flowers from our yard.  Returning from adventure, I always have a deep and renewed understanding about what is important in my life!


It’s said that you don’t find anything in the mountains that you didn’t bring with you.

That may be true, but I found what I was looking for on this trip.  When the wind whispered, we listened carefully.

Happy Trails, y’all!


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