The Hump Hike has been a Highlander tradition for many years now.  We skip one every now and again.  But this one was a doozy.

Right off the bat I run into someone at the parking area in Elkmont.  I haven't seen BC George in a coon's age.  And he showed up for the first night to Miry Ridge.  I love the dripping springs campsite.  It holds many fond memories.  From Elkmont, it was seven miles to our first spot.

It has to be my favorite interior view in the Smokies.  This junction is approximately two miles along Miry Ridge looking Southeast.

And who has been in camp since early morning?  None other than Sally Dumplin, aka Apple Dumplin and a bunch of Chinese dudes. Jerky Mike is looking a bit older today.

Dave sets about with his usual upgraded cheese board plus maters.  We love his homegrown maters, especially when he totes em 7 miles.

That's John the Red in the background.  He is thrilled to be participating in his first high mileage event.  George is thinking "You about to find out, boy!"

It was time for the big birthday bash.  Jerky Mike turned 65 on Saturday and we had a little surprise for the boy.  In case you haven't heard, Mike is completing his last miles in the Smokies in two weeks and we will finish at Deep Creek for a large Highlander shindig. 

Later, Will and Jenny arrived with their own surprise.  We had apparently gotten the age wrong.

George is telling Dave that he thinks they both need to regrown their moustaches since both are back on the trail.  I don't know.  What do you think?

Jerky got tickled and had to sit a spell.

But that didn't work out so well.  George told him he wanted to know how old Jerky Mike really was and this was the result.

We were run into our tents by the midnight rains which seemed to be settling in.  And it was about time because next morning would see a 13 mile trip up Miry Ridge to the Appalachian Trail and back down Goshen Prong.

Space aliens were following us.

Such an enchanted forest this part of the hardwood tree zone appears.  As the sun baked the lower valley we dodged thunderstorms for the better part of a day.  When we reached the AT there were more than a few folks doing that stretch towards Shuckstack.

Lunch was served at Siler's Bald, site of many shenanigans familiar to us all.

This is from the "narrows". 

Seven hours after departure, we arrived down Goshen through a Gushing rainstorm.  I have done Goshen three or four times now and every recollection of the place involves a deluge.   We made camp at Goshen Prong, a little soggy and haggard but in good shape considering.

Red is holding up super well.

The cheese board for night two was not shabby, if I do say so myself!

Will set a Highlander record for the longest hot dog cookoff in history.  Beginning at 7 pm he finished his last hot dog at midnight.

Goshen is a beautiful drainage and the next morning we awaited the daylight drizzle in our tents with the anticipation of a sunny day.  We were not to be disappointed.

Dave knows this tree.  We have played on this thing over the years.  Here is an example:


Trail Stats:  7 miles to Miry Ridge.  Day 2: 13 miles to Goshen Camp,  Day 3 7 miles to Little River and out Cucumber Gap for a 27 mile total.  That's why we call them Hump Hikes.  We went from low to high back to low.  And it was glorious.    Great to see BC George back in tow and Apple Dumplin is started to rejoin the ranks and marshall us back into shape.  John the Red may or may not have carried a rock in his pack.  Good stuff.   Good times.