A Couple of Late Posts…

I hiked in and around Smoky Mountain National Park Last May and neglected to post my progress. So here goes:

Day #0 – Back to the Smokies

May 12, 2022

So, it’s back to the Smokies for another trek into the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. I drove from St Louis to Wesser, NC and the Nantahala Outdoor Center to begin my hike. The drive was long but the final stretch through the mountains south of GSMNP was a real treat. The road there is known as the Dragon’s Tail. This two lane road is a favorite for motorcyclists and winds through the forest until is ends near Fontana Dam. I eventually ended up at the NOC where I spent the night before beginning my hike. I met some section hikers for dinner and settled down for the night.

A person starts to live when he can live outside himself. – Albert Einstein

Day #1 – Out of Fontana Dam

May 13, 2022

At 8:00 am I shuttled to Fontana Dam where I finished my hike out of GSMNP the previous April. The lake was beautiful in the morning light. It was clear, warm and humid. After walking along the lake for about a mile it was time to hike back up into the mountains. Over the next few miles, I climbed 2,000 ft in the humid air. Up, up, up the trail went for most of the day.

There were lots of stairs as the trail climbed to the top of the ridge. I met few hikers, including “Sticker-bush” who was section hiking. I told him about my plans to go into GSMNP after I reached the NOC and told him to look for me at Newfound Gap. (The only AT road crossing in the middle of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.)

I rolled into Cable Gap shelter in mid to late afternoon and decided to quit early. The shelter is set down in a hollow next to a stream that splits around the site. To my dismay, I learned about a small branch of the stream next to the privy when I stepped into it at 5 am. I lost my shoe in the mud; yuk! I asked another hiker later his opinion as to the worst shelter on the whole trail, he immediately replied, “Cable Gap.”

AT Thru-Hike Stats
Section Day #1 (5/13/22)
Start — Fontana Hilton (165.7)
End — Cable Gap Shelter (159.2)
Today’s mileage: 6.5
Total section miles: 6.5
Total miles on AT: 1023.1

Day #2 – Through the Mountains…

May 14, 2022

I woke early in the morning and put on one dry shoe and a muddy one. I was glad that my Altra Lone Peak trail runners dried quickly. After packing my tarp and hammock, I resumed the trek through the mountains. There was less climbing, but the trail still had sufficient ups and downs. The final descent to Stecoah Gap was incredibly steep. Along the trail, I noticed a large gray object in a tree with large eyes. A moment later a great horned owl flew away.

I spent the night at “A Cabin in the Woods”, a small hostel near Stecoah Gap. The weather the next day, called for thunderstorms in the afternoon when I was planning to be on top of Cheoah Bald. Hiking at over 5,000 ft on an open mountain top with lightning made my decision to change plans easy. I ended my section here and headed to Galtinburg, TN for day hiking in GSMNP over the next 5 days.

AT Thru-Hike Stats
Section Day #2 (5/14/22)
Start — Cable Gap Shelter (159.2)
End — Stecoah Gap (150.6)
Today’s mileage: 8.6
Total section miles: 15.1
Total miles on AT: 1031.7

I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done. – Buddha

Day #1 – What a climb!

I started at the Fontana Dam shelter this morning. The first 4 1/2 miles was a 2,000 ft climb. There were few switchbacks and many stairs. It was very slow going and a very long slog uphill with a full pack.

I stopped at cable gap shelter with several thru hikers. The conversation was great, but the shelter was definitely not the nicest I’ve ever seen. It was down in a hollow without even satellite signal. Everything was damp and dark.

One of the thru hikers I met was MacGyver. He had fun sweeping out the shelter.

AT Thru-Hike Stats
Section Day #1 (5/13/22)
Start — Fontana Hilton (165.7)
End — Cable Gap Shelter (159.2)
Today’s mileage: 6.5
Total section miles: 6.5
Total miles on AT: 1023.1

Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everybody agrees that it is old enough to know better. — Anon

Day #0 – Travel Day…

Today was a travel day. I left St. Louis at about 5:30 in the morning and ended up driving through the mountains along the Tennessee/North Carolina border before arriving at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. I’m spending the night here and leaving my car. I’ll shuttle up to Fontana Dam in the morning, to hike back here over the next three days. The forecast is for rain every day, so they’ll be lots of water!

I’ve met lots of hikers here. I had dinner with Bullfrog, Red Alert and Moonshine. They are finishing up a section hike that started at Aminacolola.

Most people think that faith means believing something; oftener it means trying
something, giving it a chance to prove itself. – Henry Ford

T-13 Getting ready…

Went for a short hike yesterday but with a full pack. It was nice but slow and steady. Millie went too and she found a turtle.

Mr Turtle
Millie likes baby squirrels too!

Here’s where my mileage stands right now:

AT Thru-Hike Stats
Section Day #0 (4/29/22)
Start — Fontana Hilton (165.7)
End — TBA
Today’s mileage: NA
Total section miles: NA
Total miles on AT: 1016.6

Behold the turtle. He makes progress when he sticks his neck out. — JB Conant

T-15 Time to Go Again…

It’s time to go back to the AT again! This time I’m planning to finish up the area around GSMNP (Great Smoky Mountain National Park) from the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) to Standing Bear Hostel at the north end of the park. This will complete about 105 miles around the National Park. I’ll be doing two smaller sections, each about 30 miles over 3 days: Fontana Dam to the NOC and Newfound Gap to Standing Bear Hostel.

I leave in 15 days. Everything is all laid out and ready to be packed for the hike. Base weight including some cold weather gear is 14 lbs for this hike. I’ll be documenting the hike on this blog and tracking on my Garmin InReach Mini. Links to photos and my track are on this page. There will likely be very few videos posted on YouTube. There are so many Thru-Hike Vloggers this year; many have fairly poor quality videos. I don’t want to be one of them. I have been following Jay Wanders Out, it’s like being there again.

14 lb Base Weight Gear Laid Out

I’ll be posting again soon…

 “The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.” – Theodore Roosevelt