The ultimate goal for the day was to go to the top of Clingsman Dome in the Smoky Mountains. While the Dome is less than 20 miles from the ranger station (park entrance) ‘as the crow flies’, it is all winding vertical roads with many possible stops like Laurel Falls along the way. It was evening by the time I got to and walked the last half mile to the top of the dome.
This is the view from the parking lot beneath the observation tower which is is a steep half mile walk away.
The observation tower offers a 360 degree view. Notice how clear the view is in the first picture from the base of the tower. In the time it took to climb the ramp a cloud had moved across the mountain top limiting visibility in the second picture, taken from the tower.
Due to the late hour and uncertainty of the cloud cover these were the only pictures from the tower.
One of my early Bucket List items was to hike & camp the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, but a hip replacement a few years ago has put the kibosh on that list item. However, the trail actually crosses Clingsman Dome on the path from the parking lot to the observation tower, so I can at least say I crossed the Appalachian Trail.
As I was talking with some other tourist in the parking lot I discovered that I had been given incorrect information. I had been told that Clingsman Dome was the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River, it is not, it is the 3rd highest peak. I found this out after purchasing the t-shirt and hiking that extreme half-mile walk to the observation tower.
It was still worth it though.
As it turns out the highest peak east of the Mississippi River is Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, about a hundred miles away. Looks like a change in plans for tomorrow are in order.