|Morning on the
Day 15: April 7, 1997
Camping on Cheoa Bald
Short morning. One mile walk to Nantahala Outdoor
Center for breakfast, shopping (no big purchases), and lunch. Mr.
Lipton and Hidalgo are spending the night here. Oh... eggs and french
toast for breakfast. Bacon cheeseburger and ice cream for lunch!
Pretty big climb up to the bald. About 4,500 feet,
I think. Did 6+ miles and 4,000 feet in three hours. Not bad. (again,
I later found these numbers were a bit high) Saw Renn and Stimpy
at the shelter. Redman and Elwood, gear shop guys from PA are tenting
next door. Maybe a big day tomorrow. Knee behaved today and I'm
treating a small blister on my right heel.
Day 16: April 8, 1997
Cable Gap Shelter
Did some surgery channel on both heels. Blisters aren't
too bad. Breeze, Mingo, Renn & Stimpy are here. Didn't eat enough
for lunch and really ran out of gas the last few hours. Sat and
read some Tom Clancy by a roadside for a while. I'm gonna take a
half day off at Fontata to let Lipton, Hidalgo and Gugg catch up.
Me this old guy Ribs (think Montogmery Wick from
Vertical Limit). He talked nonstop for about three hours. We
had to beat him to make him shut up an hour after dark. Just five
miles into Fontana tomorrow.
Day 17: April 9, 1997
Fontana "Hilton" Shelter Fontana, North Carolina
Right on the border to the Smoky Mountains. Great
view of Fontana Dam and Lake from the shelter. Really roundabout
walk down here. Seemed like we went out of our way. Took a shower
and got a ride to Fontana Village with a family in a minivan from
Michigan on spring break.
Fontana Village is one of those rustic not-quite-nice-enough-to-call-a-resort
kinda places. Their season was is just getting started so not much
is open yet. I ate alone at the only restaurant operating. Mozzarella
sticks, salad and fettucini alfredo... then a pint of strawberry
ice cream for desert. Spent $45 on 5 days worth of food at their
overpriced store. Lipton, Hidalgo and Gugg caught up.
Day 18: April 10, 1997
Birch Spring Shelter Great Smoky Mountains N.P.
First day in the Smokies. Looks pretty much like the
mountains we've been climbing... except for the chain link bear
fences across the front of the shelter. Breakfast in Fontata: three
huge pancakes, eight slices of french toast, hash browns and sausage.
Then ice cream.
Heard the other day that Stick dropped out in Franklin.
Elwood also went home for some relative's hip problem. So Redman's
going it alone. Amish Man, Lars and "Annoying Guy Whose Name
Eludes Me" got to Fontana as I was heading out. They're hitching
30 miles to buy beer tonight.
Read Clancy along Fontata Lake till 3:00 and came
up. Not a bad climb. Lipton was a bit behind. Hidalgo and Gugg are
staying another night at Fontana.
Day 19: April 11, 1997
Spence Field Shelter Great
Smoky Mountains N.P.
Saw two deer at the first shelter we passed. They
came really close. Looked like does, but could've been bucks without
big antlers. Of course... no camera.
Got a late start, 10:00am. That's gotta stop. I'm
having lunch after about three hours. Knee started complaining shortly
before the shelter... precluding any possibility of pushing on to
the next shelter. Gonna try to make food last to Davenport Gap and
bypass Gatlinburg. We'll see.
Met Yokel, Mr. Mingo, and Peggy-O last night. Yokel
used to be at Ft. Bragg. Did half the AT last year... gonna do the
PCT next year. Bunch of section hikers here tonight... pain in the
Day 20: April 12, 1997
Double spring Gap Shelter Great Smoky
Decent day after leaving the Good Ole Boy Expedition
behind (see section hikers in previous entry). Bunch of ignorant
redneck bastards from Cincinnati (i understand this more than
ever now that I live here). At least 35 years old... all four
of them. Built a fire in the shelter with green wood (probably chopped
a tree). Damn near killed us with the smoke. Another guy who threw
up during the hike to the shelter (he said he spoke with the Lord)
had many beers then saw fit to take some morphine and Xanex. He
promptly went into a coma. His girlfriend's a nurse and didn't want
her honey coming into the woods without the necessary pharmaceutical
Overheard: "Shit." "What's wrong?"
"I'm only half drunk and I oughtta be hammered by now."
These guys' normal lives must really suck if this is what
it takes to unwind.
Anyway, it rained lightly most of the morning.. I
guess there were some great views, but we were fogged in. Did catch
a few glimpses of mountain islands in the clouds. Shelter was empty
when when Lipton and I got here. Some girls from Savannah showed
up around 8. Couple of guys are supposedly coming up in the dark
with a broken flashlight. Hope I don't have to go looking for some
idiot's lost ass tonight. Gatlinburg tomorrow.
Day 21: April 13, 1997
Grand Prix Motel Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Kinda funny... going into Gatlinburg in the springtime
from the AT to get some privacy. Lipton's gonna take a day or two
off in Hot springs, so he pushed on tonight after a big dinner at
the Gatlinburg Pizza Hut. I'm in a motel room alone, the first time
I've spent a night alone in three weeks. Kinda nice. I sat on the
bed at watched Tiger Woods win The Masters.
Did some serious walking this morning... 11 miles
in 4.5 hours, including a 20 minute lunch. Met a couple of guys
at Newfound Gap handing out Cokes and fruit to thru-hikers. They
also gave up a ride into G'burg.
I'm thinking of picking up some walking poles at the
outfitter. Kinda pricey, but should help my knee. Hope to do 15.5
miles tomorrow and meet Lipton, Gugg, and Hidalgo in Hot springs.
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