Miles Today: 14.0
Mile Marker: 202.5 Mt Collins Shelter
Today didn't start off much better than yesterday, but there was ascending needed doing so I got to it. Today's agenda included the highest peak on the entire AT. Clingmans Dome at 6,667 feet (from the observation tower). The trail and the weather were both super cooperative on the way up. Mostly hard packed dirt and sunshine. Almost no rocks, roots, or downed trees in the way. I couldn't have asked for better conditions. I got to the top around 5:00 and encountered a band of thru hikers eating dinner at the observation tower. The road to the tower isn't opened for the season yet, so we had the whole place to ourselves. I figured why not and joined them in dinner.
Shortly after getting back on the trail from Clingmans, I hit the 200 mile mark. Woo woo! Then I had to take a 0.50 mile detour to get to the shelter I have to stay at for the night. For those of you keeping score on the mileage and the mile markers, that's why it's 0.50 off. It's not part of the AT, but I walked it, and I'm counting it. There are tons of detours like this. 0.20 miles to get water, 0.30 miles to this shelter, 0.25 miles to the best overlook in the section. Sure it's not much, but after hiking 10 hours a day they are insult to injury.
Bright side of the shelter being so far off course, most hikers will work their schedule around avoiding it. When I got here there were only a group of Spring Breakers doing an adjoining trail. Opposed to the fifty some odd thru hikers at the other shelter. First night I've slept in a shelter this entire journey. We'll see how it goes.