Climbed out of Fontana Dam today and am at Birch Spring Gap camping area; am officially in the Smokies now. 4.5 miles uphill, gained 2000 feet. Wasn’t that bad although I was concerned about my right knee feeling tender. Gorgeous weather and a good day for hiking. Came across a deer on the trail today, she seemed unbothered by my presence. A couple of guys here saw a mama bear and cub this afternoon. I love the Smokies, when I lived in Chicago and West Virginia, I would come here often on camping vacations. My friend Karen and I would come here and camp. Very happy memories. My tent is up, I ate one of Nash’s fabulous meals and I’m gonna sit here and watch the sun go down over the mountain. Life is good.