Going to the Wild

Following my own recommendation, I went out to the Wild on Friday through today. There's some significant landscape in this photo. The highest peak you can make out is Clingman's Dome, which is the tallest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and one of the highest in the Eastern United States (Mount Mitchell, which you can see from atop it on a clear day, is slightly taller). The Appalachian Trail crosses there. If you're southbound, you'll climb three mountains that day to get to it, and then have a long decline to the closest shelter down by some springs below.

Back to the photo. If your eye should follow that ridge to the right, where the squiggly peaks are, the low point on the ridge is Newfound Gap. That's where the road between Gatlinburg and the Cherokee reservation passes. (Much of the valley you can see before the ridgeline is the Qualla Boundary Lands).

We'll pause for a musical interlude at the mention of Gatlinburg.

Far off to the left are the Unicoi mountains in Tennessee. The gap in the Clingman's Dome ridge headed that way is Deal's Gap, which is the location of the Tail of the Dragon, the most famous motorcycle road in the world.

I've ridden the Dragon quite a few times, but the hardest trip I ever had on it was in a Chevy whose power steering went out. I've seen guys ride right off the edge, though.

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