Start: Cheoah Bald, NC
Finish: Green Corner Rd, TN (turnoff to Standing Bear Farm)
Time: 3.5 days (Nov.13 to Nov.16)
Daily Average: 27.1 miles
- Hot showers at the Fontana Dam shelter; affectionately known by long distance hikers as the “Hilton.”
- I generally avoid mountain shelters in popular hiking destinations such as the Smokies, due to the fact that they are often crowded and mice-infested. That being said, when it’s cold, windy and the rain is unrelenting, these places are a godsend no matter how many rodents may be scampering about!
- Due to inclement conditions, views were virtually non-existent. That being said, I hesitate to include this in the “lowlights”section because if it isn’t absolutely bucketing down, I actually quite enjoy hiking in the fog and drizzle. At such times, with little in the way of aesthetic distractions, the solitary hiker can channel their inner-Thoreau, Muir or Emerson, and focus on the inward journey which he or she is undertaking ……………. alternatively, you may just think about whether or not the upcoming trail town has a Pizza Hut.
Notes & Musings:
- At the end of the Smokies I stayed at Standing Bear Farm. This peacefully set hostel made for a welcome respite from the rain and wind, which had been my constant companions since leaving Fontana Dam. Standing Bear provides its guests with a bed, hot shower, a wide range of fairly priced resupply options and the opportunity to kick back and enjoy the company of fellow hikers. A big thanks to Curtis, Maria and long-term resident/handyman “Captain Gutz”, for all their hospitality.
- On the Foothills, Bartram and Benton Mackaye sections of my walk, I saw only a handful of other hikers. In contrast, as soon as I hit the Appalachian Trail at Cheoah Bald, it was like a veritable hiker parade. I must have run into at least 20 to 30 southbound thru-hikers over the next three days.