Weather: Cloudy, fairly warm, rain and thunder in the late afternoon
We had breakfast with Charles at the Hampton, then Charles left. He had a long drive home.
We drove back to Smoky Mountains National Park; this time to a more remote area called Cosby. The Cosby entrance is located on the northeast corner of the park and has a campground that's never crowded and doesn't require reservations.
We parked in the designated hiker parking lot and started our hike. We had the trail to ourselves. We hiked through lush forest and crossed several creeks. The climb was fairly steep for 2.5 miles until we reached the intersection with the Appalachian Trail. We turned right and hiked the AT for 0.8 mile to the Cosby k*** Shelter. At this point it started to sprinkle and we were looking forward to sitting down for a bit and having a snack.
The shelter was primitive, but quite popular. It had a solid roof, a fireplace, places to sleep, and a few benches and tables. There was a pulley system for hanging packs, and a small spring next to the shelter. Here are some photos of the shelter:
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=cosby+knob+shelter&Here are some pictures of the shelter: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=cosby+knob+shelter&id=D9C889ED55A68D980AE7FA1342F37AF8CFCA6EB4&FORM=IGRE3#x0y0
We saw several young people who were camping out for the night. We looked around for a bit, then sat down on a bench inside the shelter and enjoyed our snacks. We started talking to a few of the other hikers that were spending the night. We talked to one guy in particular who said that he had been hiking the AT for 3 weeks and was going to hike the full length of it in about 5 months. Gotta admire his enthusiasm! I would love to hike the full length, too, but the thought of having to spend the night cheek to cheek (so to speak) with a bunch of strangers night after night doesn't sound very appealing to me. I love a hot shower after a strenuous hike, a nice dinner and a warm bed. What can I say, I'm a city slicker, I guess.
As soon as we headed back, it started to rain harder and harder. We walked quickly, all downhill now. After 20 minutes or so, it became uncomfortable. I had a small umbrella that kept my head and most of my upper body fairly dry. My pants started to get wet first, then my shoes and feet. W. didn't have any protection from the rain and was quickly drenched from head to toe. The last mile was miserable. We heard thunder and had to walk through a pool of water that was running down the trail.
Lucky for us the restroom at the parking lot had hand dryers. We took off our clothes and dried everything we could (including ourselves) under the small stream of hot air. At least we didn't have to drive soaking wet to our hotel, which was about an hour away. A hot shower was on my mind as soon as we returned to the hotel room. Fortunately neither one of us got sick from this adventure.
We had dinner at Lemongrass Thai Restaurant across from the Hampton and watched Gnomeo and Juliet at the cheap movie theater.