There is one road that crosses the AT in its 70 mile run through the Park. I found myself on the side of that road at 3:30 yesterday, with the possibility of walking 3 miles uphill to the next shelter, or hitching into town for pizza and a shower. I let my stomach make the decision.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a tourist town in the foothills. It has a Ripleys Believe it or Not, several western themed animatronic amusement houses, and innumerable restaurants and hotels. For someone who has wandered in from the forest it seems tacky and overwhelming, but there is pizza.
I got a ride back to the AT with a charming older couple this morning. Well fuelled with pizza, the climb that seemed daunting yesterday was quite easy this morning. It was another gorgeous fall day, with one of the most spectacular hikes of the trip. The trail ran along a series of knife edge ridges with extensive views. After a 15 mile walk I am staying at Tricorner Knob Shelter, the most remote shelter in the Park. It is at an altitude of 5,900 feet, so the night will be chilly.