Living in Townsend has blessed me with a crazy amount of abundant hiking trails and mountains. Even though the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is literally a two minute drive from my house, I often forget to take advantage of the wonderful perk sitting outside my front door. Cades Cove is probably the biggest tourist spot for our little town. It is an 11 mile one-way scenic loop that drives through historic mountains and fields. Wildlife such as turkey, deer, and bears is also a popular thing to see while in the Cove. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the Cove loop is closed to cars until 10am, giving bikers and walker/runners to take advantage of the loop without traffic.
Momma wanted to do the Cove loop on her day off next week but I wasn’t quite sure if I could make the 11 mile loop so I talked to my friend Yvonne and we decided to go test the waters. We got a slightly late start and didn’t start walking until 8:45ish. The weather was perfect with a slight overcast and cooler temps. If you’ve ever been to Cades Cove then you would understand that seeing this beauty without cars around is a true blessing. There are a lot of rolling hills in the loop so we would shuffle on the downhills to make up time and then power through the uphills. We even spotted a bear in a tree that was snacking on some limbs.
After stopping halfway at the visitor’s center to refill our water bottles and use the bathroom, I lost all my momentum. Hills became my worst nightmare and I was struggling to keep a decent walking pace. Yvonne was super understanding and we both realized that we had seriously failed at preparation since water was the only thing we brought. If this were a race we would have already had a sports drink and some sort of fuel which we were seriously lacking. My breakfast was very light and I hadn’t brought any kind of sugary snack or drink to make up for the loss of sweat and calories. About a tenth of a mile shy of 9 miles I could barely see straight and just needed to lay down. I wasn’t necessarily sick to my stomach but felt extremely weak and lightheaded. Luckily Yvonne flagged down this sweet couple in a truck and they gave us a ride for the last two miles back to our car. Once we got back I got some sugar in me and felt ten times better.
Even though our trip got cut a little short, I learned a valuable lesson to pack a snack and to prepare. On the bright side we got in almost 9 miles on a beautiful morning in a beautiful place. This little trip made me more thankful to have such a great national park right next to my house and I really need to take advantage of it more.
Have you ever visited beautiful East Tennessee? Ever been to Cades Cove? Ever failed to plan during a long run/walk?