First things first. Today is my baby sister Kari’s birthday. Happy Birthday sister. She is one of the reasons I am on this trail. It takes a lot of family to takeover commitments when you hike for five months. My husband George and my sister Kari are the two major players that allowed this to happen. I’m totally blessed to have my one and only Sister-in-Christ who is an Angel in disguise. She has been my best friend as long as she’s been alive. I love you Kari and hope you celebrate big! You’re the best little sister ever.
Blue and I woke up to the smell of sausage, eggs, potatoes and peach ad blueberry pancakes! We were still hanging out at the Bed and Breakfast and had our last meal before walking back to the trail. Jeff gave us a ride to Fontana Dam and we were off to the Smokies.
One of the coolest and recognizable parts of the AT is the walk across the Fontana Dam. The road was closed as they are doing some work on the Dam but hikers can still navigate the trail. We walked the length of the Dam Road and just before we entered the Smokey’s National Park.
This section of the trail was extremely difficult for me. My pack was loaded with five days of food and five pounds of water! I was hurting going up the trail. Natalya was a bit slower but I was the slowest. We took lots of breaks and by lunch, we made it to the abandoned Fire Tower. We took at 0.1 mile side trail which leads to the summit of Shuckstack, home of a fire lookout tower and the ruins of a fire warden’s cabin. This is the first major view in the Smokeys for northbound AT hikers, and one of the best in the park. The tower is a bit sketchy to climb but it was worth the magnificent views of Fontana Lake, the Smokeys and the surrounding mountains.
After the tower, we still had another 6-7 miles to hike to get to our designated camp. In the Smokey’s, you must camp at designated spots as the Bears are a serious threat in these parts. It seemed to take all day to get to camp. Blue was getting a bit delirious and every fallen tree, she would say, “I can see the shelter!” It was pretty hilarious as she was certain that we had arrived. Around 5:30pm, we crawled into camp. We found a couple of flat spots to pitch our tents, which was all we were praying for this evening. God answered our prayers and we have a perfect pitched home for the evening.
Today, we didn’t see any bears but there’s no doubt that we heard one or two. As we were walking a Ridgeline, we heard something careening through the brush below. If it wasn’t a bear, it would’ve been a moose. It was large and in-charge! We talked to a few hikers, one day hiker that stayed with us quite awhile, and other thru-hikers. With the exception of two to three, we met new people. It was a day of reflection on the miles I’ve covered and Blue is becoming a wannabe thru-hiker. She has all the attributes of a great hiker. She is strong, in both mind and body, she doesn’t complain when things get tough, she is an excellent student and she is a joy to be with.
The devotional that I listened to was so appropriate for the day. I stated earlier it was a hard day. Maybe the hardest day I’ve had on the trail to this point. Today was both hot and humid, something I would’ve expected next month. I drank three liters of water before making it to camp and was a sweaty mess. I couldn’t wear my hat because my head and face were burning up so I tied my scarf around my head like a bandana. There were times that I really don’t know how I managed this climb. It was close to 4300’ with little relief. But in the end, I am sure that the mighty Lord was my strength. I definitely did not carry that pack of mine by myself. He was carrying it for me much of the way. Thank you Lord Jesus for being my Sherpa on days like today.
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Psalms 18:2 NIV
One thought on “Day 18: May 2, 2022 Fontana Dam to Mollie Ridge Elevation Profile +4297/-1554 11.4 Miles; Total 1777.7 Miles”
Pam and I are totally caught up with your blog, and she is enjoying hearing about all your wondrous adventures (as I am too!)
We love you, you mighty wondrous woman!
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