Apparently, 12 miles just wasn't enough so we came back. This time around we started at the north end, just over the border in Tennessee, and walked the whole darn thing. Then we turned around and did it again. The mile markers on the trail itself indicate the length is 10.4 miles. Using Google My Tracks app on my phone I came up with a total trek of 22.8 miles for our "full-and-back" hike. Oddly enough, the mileage that I logged from one end to the other was 12+ miles so I guess we stepped into a wormhole on one of the covered bridges on the way back to the van. Whatever. Call it twenty miles and then some.
I have a whole new level of respect for marathon runners. Of course, I was also carrying my own water, a rain jacket, couple of protein bars, first aid kit, camera, GPS and assorted items...
There were more horses out on the trail today than last week.
We also found another couple of critters, both that I almost walked right on top of because I was looking at something on either the GPS or my phone. The snake is not zoomed in, he let me get right down there in his little snaky face.
I'm uploading a quick video of the beetle, a rainbow scarab, that will be in the picture gallery (link at the end of this post). In the video you can better appreciate the horn jutting up from the head of this little dude. I've seen dung beetles before, but I don't ever remember seeing one like this. The horses were certainly providing him with plenty of work.
We stopped at the little gas station in Elkmont at the halfway point to grab a cold drink. Note for future travelers- they do not take debit or credit cards of any kind. We took our root beers and drank them at the concrete picnic table around by the red caboose.
Esther's pretty tough, but she had been having sock and shoe issues since the start and by around mile 18 she declared that she was done with the hike.
She continued on but around mile 20.5, with the sun setting and the trail getting ever darker, she gave me the go-ahead to speed past her and get to the van first. I power-walked the remainder of the trail and hopped in the van to get her. I picked her up with only a half mile left to go.
Tired and sore, we rewarded ourselves with burritos at Moe's and a mini-Blizzard at Dairy Queen.