Friday, April 26, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Nantahala Outdoor Center To Fontana Dam

Note: I replaced a defective cable and now have GPS maps.  I have updated the last two posts with their maps.

A river winds through a valley.
One thing I like about the Appalachian Trail (AT) is how primitive the trail is.  Despite the thousands of people who hike the trail each year, especially in the south before most thru-hikers give up, the trail is still a narrow winding path with minimal markings.  On the AT you can forget who you are and be anywhere and anywhen you desire to be.

Day 21 - Today hiking out of Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) was brutal.  Up, up, and up some more. After topping Swim Bald I took an hour rest break at Sassafras Gap Shelter.  The rest helped a little but the climb to Cheoah Bald afterwards was still tough and the drop down to Locust Cove Gap seemed neverending.

Ha Ha ... Very funny.
I suspect my problem was not enough calories while I was at NOC.  The over four thousand feet of climbing probably didn't help much either.  Oh, and altitude certainly played a role too.

I have to admit I have been spoiled staying in shelters.  They are so much more comfortable and convenient. I considered going to the next shelter after my planned goal but that would be a 11.7 miles - a distance I could do but I'm not sure if I should do. I set up my tent.

Day 22 - I woke up to a busted zipper on my tent's rain fly.  I also saw my self-standing modification also came apart. The modification can easily be repaired.  The rain fly not so much. I stopped at the first shelter for a rest and to call my tent manufacturer.  They were very nice and are sending a new rain fly to Gatlinburg, TN for me to pick up.
Today was not as bad as yesterday but there was a part a lady had warned me about called Jacob's Ladder.  It went straight up the mountain so I went up the mountain ... slowly.

My original stop for the day was Cody Gap campsite but when I got there I noticed that it was mostly downhill to the next shelter.  Mostly because the Appalachian Trail is never all up or all down. I'm glad I moved on as I felt pretty good once I arrived even though it was an 11.7 mile (18.8 km) day.  The push today means a shorter day tomorrow and more time in the Fontana Dam area for my next nearo and zero days.

The tree loves Hogback Gap.
At the shelter I met Pace Car who is nursing a sore ankle and several others who pushed long days to Fontana including Mad Max, Two Stick, and Double-D.
Days 23 & 24 - Wow! Three weeks on the trail. I hustled out of the rather stinky shelter (dirt, dust, and critter droppings) and headed to Fontana Dam. After an initial climb the trail turned down for a looong time.
I reached my destination, the Fontana Dam Shelter known as the Fontana Hilton. On the way down the hill I decided to splurge and get a room in the Fontana Village Lodge. It was Thursday and still early in the season so getting a room wasn't difficult. It would be nice to eat some food, spread out on a real bed, do laundry, and maybe soak in the bathtub.
I picked up my food package I'd sent myself from Franklin and a replacement cable for my GPS the Wife sent me. I spent the afternoon updating posts, sorting out food for the next four to five days of hiking. Sorting food and other logistics has become a big part of my in-town time just like finding and filtering water is a big on-trail chore each day.
Today I will be eating breakfast, doing last minute laundry, and moving to the Fontana Hilton where I will spend the night before tackling the Great Smokey Mountains.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 171.60 Miles (276.16 km)
Section Distance: 30.14 Miles (48.50 km)
Section Elevation Up: 7,677 ft (2,340 m)
Section Elevation Down: 7,592 ft (2,314 m)

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