Spring and summer in The Smoky Mountains will be awesome. We have had one of the warmest wettest winters on record. The wildlife, foliage, and wildflowers are early this year. Black bears started their spring habits in February. Synchronous Fireflies will be in mid-May not June (stay tuned for more information). Hopefully we will have a dry week for it. With the conditions we experienced in winter there will be some concerns that you may not expect in a normal year. The water tables are high so stream crossings may be deeper than usual. Insects are out in force and aggressive as you would expect. Insect repellent and protection like permethrin are more critical than ever. Ticks will be horrible this year and should be a concern. We have the Lone Star Tick which can cause a red meat allergy. It is more important to spray yourself lightly and more often than just once heavily. You don’t need to use more than usual, just consider applying less with more frequency. If you are hiking the “must haves” are, water, nutrition, sunscreen, repellent, first aid, rain jacket/rain gear. We also recommend good footwear (hiking boots or shoes), and trekking poles. If you are looking for a backpack or sling that is something else that can really matter. That is all you need for a memorable Smoky Mountain experience. If you need to go shopping for anything or need some information or advice, feel free to stop by GSM Outfitters. GSM Outfitters has the first coffee shop in Wears Valley, and we would love to get you started with a cup of the finest hand-crafted coffee drink or tea. We have all kinds of clothing, t-shirts, and hats, both name brand and souvenirs.