I’m happy to report that despite sleeping in a shelter full of guys last night, I was able to sleep quite soundly.
We bid farewell to the Fontana Hilton and set off across the dam to enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Reaching this point was a pretty big deal to us not only because it was our first time here, but just the mere fact that we’ve made it almost 200 miles so far and haven’t felt an inkling of a quitter’s attitude. We are excited for the hiking to come in one of two national parks that we’ll be hiking in during our trip.
We were glad to run into Debbie and Joe again before we crossed the dam this morning as Joe continues his section hike. Their dog Harley greeted us from the car and Debbie gave us each a Gatorade before starting our hike. Thanks again for the trail magic Debbie and Joe; we hope we’ll see you again before Damascus!
After taking the necessary photo in front of the national park sign, we started the climb up into the Smokies, the most visited national park in the country. We dropped off the bottom half of our permits in the thru-hiker box and we were on our way! The climb wasn’t nearly as tough as going up Cheoah Bald, but it wasn’t the easiest day either. With rain clouds looming, we were prepared for a full day of rain. We got lucky however and it didn’t start raining until about an hour before we got to the shelter for the night. As we climbed up into the Smokies, I felt a renewed sense of energy with Mamaw B’s food in my system and some electrolytes from Debbie and Joe. This was the first day that the blisters on my heels didn’t bother me. I’ve developed a new one below the original one on my right foot however. I’m hoping this one will heal up like the other have in about a week.
We had planned on going to the Russell Field Shelter, but with the rain, we decided to only go 11 miles to Mollies Ridge Shelter. There are some familiar faces here from last night: Mallet, Hammer, and Human. A couple we’ve seen off and on every few days, Hiccup and Forge are here too. We also met a guy from Blue Hill. We aren’t the only Hancock County peeps out here!
Looks like we’ll be in for a long day tomorrow, but it’s looking like it’s going to be a nice, sunny day for us. We can only hope out here.