First update straight from the trail from Mark Lunblad (3:23pm EST).
Day 1: The ladies finished 41.3 miles that included 9540 ft of climbing. They finished eight of the peaks on the first day, most had to be bushwacked.
Hopefully their night will be calmer than last night. Part of the Smokies Mountains have been closed due to bear sightings. The ladies and the crew saw that first hand last night. Mark , Josh Yeoman, and Seth Trippotoe were carrying supplies to the shelter where they planned to meet the ladies when they encoutered a ranger at the shelter. He was there for two days to assist in the tracking and tagging of several bears in the area. A little while later after the ranger put out some sardines, to entice the bear towards the shelter in hopes of hitting it with a tranquilizer gun, a large 400lb bear wandered into the shelter area. Unfortunately, it had gotten too dark for the ranger to be able to track the bear if he hit it with the gun. So, the ranger shot it instead with a beanbag gun to scare it away while also shooting off loud and bright flares. Later that night after the ladies had arrived and everyone was snuggling in their sleeping bags, a large noise awakened everyone. That “friendly” bear had returned and was trying to get into the shelter. The ranger sprung into action again scaring the bear away. Needless to say, not a whole lot of sleep happened after that.
The ladies are on schedule and in good spirits. Please check back again tomorrow for more updates.