Getting a New Name
The remainder of this day was spent relaxing in the lodge and talking with other thru-hikers. There are a few other people staying in the Fontana Hilton who are into rock climbing and ultrarunning.
I took a later start to the day so that I could see Fontana Dam in the daylight. After that we entered the Smokies. The climb up into the park was not as bad as we were led to believe. The weather was quite warm but overcast, so there were no views on the climb. We passed a lot of people who were out hiking on spring break. Many of them are talking of how their schools are closing due to the epidemic that is occurring out in the world. We did 24 miles to Derrick Knob Shelter.
Started late again with Short Straw and Raindance. It was a cold and windy day, so no views from the highest point on trail, and the 200-mile mark of Clingmans Dome. The Smokies are still filled with people on spring break. In the shelter this night, I was given my trail name of Fast Food. I do not eat a lot of fast food, but I got the name because I hike fast, and I eat a lot of food.
This morning, I realized that I was low on food, so I decided to push a big day. Unfortunately this meant that I had to leave all the people that I have been hiking with. I did 27 miles in the rain. It was a downpour for a fair amount of the day. This led to hours of slogging through foot-deep water. This night was spent in the last shelter in the Smokies, which has a cage over the front of the shelter.
Did a quick few miles to Standing Bear so that I could do a quick resupply and grab some food. Had four of their breakfast burritos, which were amazing. Then did the big climb up to Snowbird and Max Patch. Decided to spend the night at the Walnut Mountain Shelter. Definitely got out of the bubble while in the Smokies, which is nice since there is now room in the shelters.
Woke up very early today and was on the trail by 3 a.m. I saw a few big rats while packing my bags for the day. It was raining and foggy, limiting the visibility to only a few feet for the 14 miles to Hot Springs. At one point the fog cleared, and I looked up to see six sets of eyes looking at me. They were just deer, but it was interesting anyway. I got into Hot Springs around 6:30, and drank a few cups of coffee while I was waiting for everything to open for the day. I did my resupply at the Dollar General, and then checked into the Laughing Heart Lodge for the night.
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