Day 24 – Finally Reunited!

Day 24

Start: Cable Gap Shelter

End: Fontana Dam Visitor Center

Miles Hiked: 7.1

Miles on AT: 166.5


Today, I woke up at 7:20 am and was on trail by 8:20 am. Yesterday, I heard a large boom about 0.2 miles before I got to the shelter. Well, this morning I saw the source of that boom. A huge tree had fallen over right onto the trail. Luckily no one was in that spot when it fell. I had to find a way around the mess. I was blessed to be one of the first people to encounter it, so no trail around it had yet been forged.

The day passed relatively uneventfully. Up and up a bit; up and down, up and down. That was the cadence of this morning. Fontana Lake showed briefly through the trees every so often. I didn’t have far to go today, but I guess my anticipation of town made it seem longer.

Right before the descent, I took a quick snack break. Second breakfast is a must! Once I got my pack back on and round the corner, it appeared – the Dam! So large and so cool. I learned that Fontana Dam is the largest dam in the US east of the Mississippi. It was built as part of the WWII effort to get more electricity to Alcoa, the aluminum company. I had absolutely no idea.

Once the descent began, I was again grateful for my new knee brace. I felt practically no pain in the right knee whatsoever. The left knee, however, was a different story. I might have to get a second brace to keep it steady.

The descent felt like it took forever because I was so eager to get to Fontana Dam. Eventually I was greeted by pavement and a banner welcoming 2024 AT Hikers. I signed my name and continued on, hiking back into the forest. My ride was going to pick me up at the visitor center, so I had a little over a mile left in my day.

The trail took me along Fontana Lake, its blue hue matching the sky. I loved the view, but I was also hungry and eager for a hot meal. Pushing on, I reach the Fontana Hilton – the most luxurious shelter on the AT. It was aptly named, too, with plenty of room, a solar charger, and a beautiful view of the lake.

A few more steps, and I finally made it to the visitors center. If you have a chance to stop in, I highly recommend it. That’s where I learned the info about the Dam; there’s so much more to learn and see, too. The attendants were very nice; they offered me some candy and I picked up some free Fontana Dam swag. If you happen to need a small refreshment, they also have a small snack bar, real toilets, and trash cans; what else could a hiker want?

Back in the parking lot, I found my ride and arrived at Fontana Village. I headed straight to the restaurant and demolished 10 wings – so good! This resort is pretty big; I did laundry at the general store and found my room at the lodge where I was reunited with the fiance.


And that’s day 24.


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