Day 17 – Saturday, March 26: Fontana Dam to Fontana Dam Shelter (the Fontana Hilton), 1.2 miles, 165.9 total AT miles

I woke first this morning and took a long shower. By the time I was done, the rest of the guys were mulling about, packing scattered gear into packs and organizing food bags.

I went to the lobby and utilized the only good wifi location to make some calls and upload a few posts. It’s nice to be in contact with loved ones – even a few minutes on the phone really lifts my day.

I sat with the guys from the adjoining room and watched as they, and many others, caught the shuttle to the trailhead to enter the Smokeys. At noon, we (Kool-Aid, Canuck, Kodak and Savage) walked to the Pit-Spot, a gas station/”country pantry” for a quick resupply (and breakfast). We then quickly snagged a shuttle to the trailhead.

The beautiful Fontana Lodge .

While I was excited to enter the Smokeys, I have to admit – I’m a little banged up from the hike so far. I’m old, far from my prime.

And being in town (or, in this case “town”) isn’t as relaxing as you might think. Imagine having to do all of your errands in one day – then imagine doing them on foot OR relying on the kindness of strangers for a hitch to get from place to place.

So when Kool-Aid suggested stopping at the Fontana “Hilton”, the supposed best shelter on the AT, and tenting for the night, I was right on board. And I’m very thankful I stopped. While I feel like I’m hiking strong, my body is very sore and tired. I got a good look at myself after my shower this morning and I am dropping weight – not a lot, but it’s a little noticeable.

We made camp at 1:00. Savage, Kool-Aid and I decided to hitch back the the Pit-Stop for pizza and snacks while Kodak and Canuck watched camp. We immediately caught a ride from a friendly section hiker.

Upon returning to camp, I devoured the pizza and found myself making a second dinner. After some great conversation, I said goodnight.

I’m happy I took some time to rest and recupperate. This hike is a whole lot harder than I expected. You know, when I was working at Elliott’s in Seattle, I considered my walk to work enough training for this thing. I was dead wrong. This trail is kicking my ass.

Tomorrow will be no exception. I’m planning on an early rise for Easter Sunday – I want to get started as the sun comes up. My plan is to hike a decent couple of days, with a potential resupply in Gatlinburg. If not, I’ll press on to Hot Springs by week’s end.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’m hesitant to say exactly what the outcome/s are or have been. I think it’s enough to say I’m happy. I’m learning how to be present – to enjoy the moment without worrying about tomorrow or lamenting yesterday. It doesn’t come natural. That’s enough of that.

Food! An efficient resupply is obviously a big deal. For me, the issue is making sure I have enough protein. Protein is heavy compared to carbs and I often find myself protein deficient/carb heavy right before I head into town.

 

Four to five days of food. Also a nice shot of my stove, bear bag rope and camp shoes.
 
So when I say four to five days worth of food, it’s really four to five days worth of protein. I snagged three bags of instant potatoes from the hiker box this morning – carbs are easy to come across. Right now, I’m consuming 90 grams of protein and 4,000 calories per day. I eat a lot.

Breakfast: Sausage dog with sauerkraut and onions.

Snack: Powerbar vanilla protein bar, Lanch PB and cheese crackers.

Lunch: 8″ pepperoni pizza

Dinner: Beef Stroganoff, s’mores.

Snack: Gooey Butter Cake (not as good as the 5 Spot), handful of almonds.