Thursday, April 18, 2024
Home Backpacking Days 18-20 on The Appalachian Trail

Days 18-20 on The Appalachian Trail

by Staff

A little South and a little North got me where I am , NOC to Fontana Dam.
To quote Chevy Chase “ sometimes the closest distance between two points is a straight line in the opposite direction.” This missive might seem a bit short, but I find myself with some challenging days and as you can guess each blog addition is written a few days down the road. For this, down the road means the Smokies and accompanying fun and singular weather system. From time to time as mentioned previously I walk a portion South. In a way this is so I can another hiker. For the most part I’ll just express it as moving North from here on so as to reduce confusion and yes, there are those out there that would pretend it’s not right or even more laughably not “pure” to do anything but one direction. For those who would opine about such a thing I direct you to Zach’s article on thru hiking on this website. As for me you can direct your complaints to my representatives at the firm of Neener, Neener, Neener, and HYOH.

What Works

Resupply Boxes- Remember, many places along the AT are resort areas with accompanying prices at the stores nearby.
Flexibility- so I’m not in Virginia yet. I have a calendar year from terminus to terminus and I need to be realistic about my abilities in this current varied terrain.
Shuttle drivers- choose well and make arrangements for the time you are in the area. For me this means Chuck Allen. You get a thru hiker’s knowledge, local history, and solid guidance to help you on your way.
Dark Energy Poseidon Pro Power Banks- close to mil-spec, highly water resistant, and handle the cold extremely well.
What didn’t work will be in the next inputs.

I’d like to thank so many for their support. It is a daily endeavor and it is not without challenges or rewards. A simple “You got this” goes a long way when hiking solo in the rain for three days.

Day 18-19 NOC to Brown’s Gap Shelter

The hike out is like the hike in, steep. It is nice having these islands of respite throughout, but it always seems to require a climb out the next day. Another milestone passed. I had done a little resupply at the outfitters and was ready for the three day walk to Fontana Dam. There are some magnificent sites on this stretch and sadly I possess my Grandma Q’s photographic skills, and at times you see a portion of the subject and a large portion of thumb. So it is for my one photo each at The Jump Up and Checoah Bald. You’ll have to rely on a search engine to see those. My mind is in a fog walking through all of this beauty. The climbs to the top of the balds rarely get my heart rate past 108 bpm so I guess my body has adjusted to the toil. I stealth camped about 8 miles in to maintain my casual and useful pace and enjoyed two of the desserts I had purchased at NOC.
I took my time in the morning and missed the sunrise as I fell in and out of sleep. More oatmeal and dried fruit, a quick brushing of the teeth, and off for more time in the woods. I am sensing a theme. Honestly, the memorable things on this day were meeting Andy, who was working to cut a notch out of a large tree across the trail,

Stecoah Gap and the tumultuous noise being made from the construction there, and meeting another thru hiker when I stopped for the day at Brown’s Fork Gap Shelter for the day.

The hiker, Julia who I call “Rocky” hails from Ohio and is tough on the trail as I came to observe in the following days. She came to the shelter looking for a water source and then moved on to stealth camp down the road.


Day 20 Brown’s Gap to Fontana Dam

Another oat based breakfast and off to a much anticipated destination. I passes Rocky a bit down the trail and we exchanged pleasantries and agreed to keep contact down the trail. A long series of ups and downs brought me to the early afternoon when I first sighted Fontana in the distance.

Through the trees I could see a beautiful expanse of blue and quickened my pace to get closer. After awhile I went back to my normal pace because it takes a bunch of time to get around and down to the water with many “ where did it go” moments during the hike around and down. A few hours after seeing the lake I was finally down and at the marina.

I had made arrangements for a night’s lodging and as there was no cell service I went to the building right there and discovered the non-working phone you can use to call the shuttle. I walked down to the marina to find that off-season hours have the store closing at 4 p.m. Seeing someone inside I knocked and a nice young man named Brandon let me in, use the phone, and purchase some sports drinks. Thank you for your help Brandon.

For all of you passing through, the store at the marina has stocked a bunch of hiker approved food and beverage. The driver picked me up and gave me a tour around the lower dam and a bit of area history. Off to check in and be driven to my room. The lodge is undergoing a lot of construction so I was put up in a nicer room than expected. A quick trip to the restaurant served as a reminder that this is a resort area with resort pricing. A quick stop at the little store at registration confirmed this. A bit of advice. Have a resupply box sent here with enough provisions to get you through the Smokies. This is solid advice as there was a hiccup with my resupply and the store prices are painful. After sorting laundry and cleaning up, sleep time.

Final Thoughts

But Your life here has made it
Clear enough for me to see
That if I do not love, I am nothing

Ginny Owens

Lyrics from I Am Nothing 




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