Noland Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, N.C.

In the Garden of Eden: Backpacking the Great Smoky Mountains

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

Late-afternoon sunlight tilts golden beams through the low canopy of spruce and fir trees as I hike alone up the Welch Ridge Trail, deep in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I haven’t seen another person all day. Solitude in the mountains exerts many effects, small and large, on us, including that we instinctively listen more attentively. Our rational minds cannot erase from primal memory the instinctive knowledge that, in the primitive brains of some woodland creatures, we represent a boatload of calories.

I stop abruptly and stand perfectly still—listening intently, waiting.

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One Response to In the Garden of Eden: Backpacking the Great Smoky Mountains

  1. Zachary Robbins   |  September 18, 2017 at 11:53 am

    That’s how most of the trails are on the east side of the park, you get a couple of miles in and the crowds completely disappear. The area southwest of Forney Creek where you were is usually considered the most remote area of the park, ripe for big loops. That and the area northeast of Cherokee around Three Forks and Balsam Mountain Trail. The Tennessee side of the park is a zoo unfortunately around Gatlinburg. Hopefully you got to stop at Nantahala Brewery in Bryson City, great barrel aged beers.

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