Hey guys. This is the first time I’ve had sufficient internet access to enter something on the site myself. I came into Fontana Village around 3pm yesterday, and took a zero today. Flo, Pretzel, and Hatchet have hiked on. They pulled a 19 mile haul from Sassafras Gap Shelter to Fontana. I had to split that journy into two days, due to what I now know is IT Band stress in my left knee.
Downhills are pretty much hell right now, and the earliest I can get a brace is after the Smokies, when I hit Standing Bear Hostel.
I’ve been bunked with Flannel Heart, his girlfriend Amy, and a girl named Caroline I met on Friday. With the lodge costs split, we’re staying at a really nice hotel for $20 a night. Much better and cheaper than Gooder Grove, let me tell you.
Thursday was really tough. Pretzel and I opted for food and coffee over rafting (50 degree air temps). On the way up to Sassafras Gap shelter, several SOBO section hikers told me it was snowing at the top. I hit a difficult rocky section, and the sleet caught me, dropping thousands of frozen BB’s on me out of no where. It was like having a cold shower turned on your back, at the worst possible time. Then the rain hit, then the wind, and temps dropped below 45 degrees incredibly fast.
I realized that I needed to find shelter or pitch in a half hour. I was already starting to loose a little bit of manual dexterity. I got into the shelter on time though. Pretzel told me it was his favorite day of hiking, and the sick/crazy/thru-hiker in me had to agree.
I split with my buddies the following morning and walked down nine miles to the next shelter. It was 10-12 miles to Fontana Dam yesterday. Several hikers, including Caroline, are having exactly the same knee pain. Taking a zero seemed prudent, and gave us time to resupply, order knee braces, do laundry, etc.
“They will have to pull me off these mountains legs broken and crawling!” –Caroline’s sentiment when I asked about her knee.
Some locals stopped by to chat and offered beer, which makes that my second Busch Light before 10am in two weeks. One of them had found a phone in a Gossamer Gear pouch, which I recognized to by my buddy Blue Man’s. I hit up some other hikers about his speed via text, and will carry it into the Smokies till I find him.
AT&T sucks here, and I will likely be completely off the radar for 1-2 weeks. Many companies no longer slack pack food into the Smokies, so I am hauling seven days worth of food in, mainly to give myself a buffer on the chance I have to hobble out.
Spent an awesome day with a really awesome girl. Fontana lodge is a great place to get away, and I might be back after the trail. Time to get hiking again though!
Sending a lot of things home tomorrow, more after the Smokies I’m sure. Will check in when able. Thank you so much for your patience. Keeping this updated has been much more of a challenge than anticipated.