AT crosses 81 in our neck of the woods. Reading your log I thought that's where you were but that's not the Smokies or Cherokee. Sounds like you might have been near Marion. It also in Roanoke right at one of the more well known spots along the trail, McAfee's Knob. If you've watched the movie Into the Woods it is the picture on the poster. Great hike and only a 5 min drive from 81 at exit 141. Lots of trails at the adjacent park Carvins Cove as well which is even closer at Exit 141 or 146. Dragon's Tooth is also a great hike only 5 min past McAfee's. Between the two is a popular through-hiker restaurant. It is a true country style restaurant in the country, Homeplace. The wait can be long though.
I'll have to look. We were near Knoxville at this point, so maybe we were on 40, not 81
That makes much more sense! That would work.