The Smokies are absolutely gorgeous! I’ve been lucky and even though it’s been a bit chilly down here (down in the 30s at night) the days have been mostly warm, sunny, and cool.
Near the end of my first day in the smokies I was reminded that I am, in fact, afraid of heights. After a long hard uphill hike I came to a sidetrail that went 0.1 miles up to a fire tower on top of Shuckstack Mtn (3800 ft). The top of the mountain, like most of the mountains around here, had a tree covered summit. The fire tower, however, held the promise of great views. The flights of stairs going to the top of tower looked rickety and were definitely older than I am, and the rusty supports weren’t confidence inspiring. I’d worked hard to get my first view of the smokies though, so I left my pack at the bottom and brought my camera with me. As I climbed, the wind picked up and I felt the 20+ mph gusty winds that I suddenly remembered the forecast had called for.
I climbed one flight, then wrapped one arm around the frame of the tower and took a picture. I took a slow deep breath and concentrated on taking one step at a time up the next flight. Each step was an act of pure stubbornness. I was going to make it up that tower. I wasn’t going to let my fear conquer me. Despite the strong winds and dramatic exposure the rickety looking tower didn’t even shake, so I attempted to quiet my nerves and kept climbing.
Eventually I made it to the enclosed top of the tower. The views were, as promised, astounding. The enclosure at the top was not the most confidence inspiring though (the roof was missing sections and the floor was reinforced with sheets of plywood loosely layered over it).
The two pictures on this page should give you the 360 degree view of the Smokies that I got from the top of the tower.