After I got back from BNR, I had one whole day to prepare for my next trip, to the Smokies. This one wasn’t quite roughing it though, since my girl and I stayed in a cabin on top of a mountain with a couple of friends. The cabin was pretty crappy, so I guess it was at least slightly rough. Note to cabin builders: Put insulation in the floors between first and second story bedrooms so you don’t have to hear each other breathing, let alone anything else. It did have a hot tub though, which is always awesome.

We got in on Thursday and after checking in to the cabin, we wandered around Gatlinburg and procured the essential fudge and jerky. A trip to the Smokies is nothing without fudge and jerky. The trip from the cabin in Townsend to Gatlinburg went through Pigeon Forge, so our friends finally understood what we meant when we called Pigeon Forge the “butthole of the southeast.” Gatlinburg looks like Monaco in comparison. We also ate at a mediocre Brewery type restaurant and noticed that Gatlinburg’s restaurants are at least 50% staffed by eastern Europeans. Maybe someone can help me understand why Gatlinburg is the place to go for immigrating Czechs.

The next day’s morning was spent scouting chapels and wedding locations. Part of the trip’s purpose was to find locations for the other couple’s wedding, so we checked out a couple of places around town. If any of you are getting hitched any time soon, check out the Smokies. The prices are at least 1/2 of what they are in my area, and the locations are gorgeous. After the wedding scouting, we ate lunch, went back to the cabin, and played lazy for the rest of the day.

Saturday was spent hiking up Mount Camerer in the northeast part of the park. The trail map listed the hike as moderate and as the easiest way to get to the lookout tower on top of the mountain, but it was still a good workout for us. My sinus medication makes me dizzy when I first take it, so I thought I was going to pass out and die for the first hour of the hike thanks to it and my lack of fitness. One of these days, I really need to get back into shape.

I was wearing a shirt and jacket at first, but was soon drenched in sweat, so the jacket went bye bye and I just had a my Icebreaker Tech T on in upper 50s weather. Not surprisingly, I was fine. My hands were a little cold, but the shirt kept my core at the right temp. One of my friends had on 4 layers and was still freezing. Merino wool is #1 under the sun.

The only reason we went all the way to the top instead of turning back after 1/4 mile was the whole reason we went on the hike in the first place. I proposed to my girl at the top of the mountain, with a 360 degree view of the Smokies and the turning leaves around us. She said yes. Hooray! The other couple knew I was going to do this, so they got some nice pics of the moment. I’ll only torture you fine readers with one down in the pics area.

The hike down wasn’t nearly as bad, since it was mostly downhill. We got to the bottom, went to the cabin and cooked dinner, soaked in the hot tub for way too long, and headed off to bed.

The last morning was spent cleaning up our crap in the cabin. After we had all of the broken vases and smashed tables from all our hard partying cleaned up, we headed over to Cades Cove. I have been there at least 10 times before, but this time was by far the best. I had a new fiancee, the trees were beautiful, and the weather was perfect. I could have done without the morbidly obese families and their uncontrolled screaming children though. Oh well, can’t have everything.

After the cove, we went back into Gatlinburg for more fudge and jerky and to eat lunch. I talked everyone into going to Cherokee Grill, which is right before you go back into the park and easily the best restaurant in the area. They are not open for lunch, but we were there around 3 when they opened, so we were able to sneak in for some grub. I highly recommend the place if you are in the Smokies. I had wood-grilled skrimps with rice and their vegetable of the day, which was acorn squash baked and covered with cinnamon butter. Delicious!

Pics are over in the forums.