We have been camping at Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It has been a beautiful break from driving. We’ve used the time to rest, organize the equipment in the van, critique our footage, and recharge our batteries (figuratively and literally – we have a lot of electronics). Of course I chose the highest campground in the park, Balsam Mountain, with an elevation of 5,310 feet. The drive up to camp takes about an hour. The roads are steep and windy, but the scenery is beautiful.
The first night was great. We got into camp around midnight and fell asleep right away. The next day was nice and we had a cookout. It started to rain in the evening and continued throughout the night. Potter’s tent leaked and he woke up in a puddle. The campground has no showers and no hot water, so it was not a good morning for him. It kept raining all day. We went into town and hung out on a Cherokee Reservation for a few hours while I used the internet in a coffee shop to do some work and update the Phelps-A-Thon website.
We grabbed some firewood and tasted some boiled peanuts, then headed back up the mountain. I started a fire and Potter cooked some food. It was wet and windy. Our campsite was located right on the side of the mountain, with the wind blowing up and through our camp. The fog rolled in and the wind picked up. I was happy sitting by the fire, keeping warm, until one of the tents lifted off the ground and took a dive into the other tent. I thought, “OK, no problem. We still have one more tent up and it is secured with stakes in the ground.”
The temperature dropped (headed down to 32 degrees) and we huddled close to the fire. The wind continued to howl. All of a sudden the second tent broke free from its moorings and flipped over on its side. It started flapping in the wind. I tried to pull it back but the wind was strong and constant. The tent was like a sail on top of the mountain.
That was it. We were done. We threw everything, soaking wet, into the van and headed down the mountain. We are now in a hotel (hopefully the only hotel of the trip) in Cherokee, North Carolina. I miss the campfire, but it will be nice to have hot water in the morning to take a shower and brush my teeth. Tomorrow we head back over the mountains into Tennessee.
While on the mountain we saw a group (pack? herd?) of deer (or maybe elk…or moose? Check out the video and leave a comment).