North Carolina Blues

Lightning Strikes

Two section hikers left Fontana Village this morning and started across Fontana Dam. The weather was rainy with scattered storms predicted. Partway across, a strong wind caught one of the hikers and hurled her towards the edge. Her partner rushed forward hoping to be able to grab her in time. Luckily she was able to grab the rail and stop her momentum before her pack weight dragged her over. They decided another day at the Village was in order.

On the way back to the shuttle, a ridgerunner told them that four people were struck by lightning on the trail today just above the dam and told them waiting a day was a good idea. Sometimes the prudent thing to do is sit tight. Tomorrow morning these hikers, myself, Dawg City/Jukebox and about ten new trail friends will set off into Smokey Mountain National Park. I am planning to do six nights in the park without stopping. I will average 12 miles per day and am carrying the most food so far on this trip. Each day of food weighs around two pounds so I will be eating my way to a lighter load!

Yesterday, the rain soaked through my “waterproof jacket.” Tomorrow, I will be sporting a navy blue poncho that I am hoping will keep me AND my pack dry.

The rain is expected to end by late afternoon and turn to sunshine until next Monday when it will return for at least four days. So slick roots and soaked feet are going to be the norm.

We will be climbing Clingman’s Dome in the next week. This is the highest point on the AT so does that mean it is all downhill from there? Ha! In GSMNP hikers have to camp at the shelters. During Covid, we are permitted to tent camp next to a shelter. One shelter is closed due to “aggressive bear activity.” We were told that a tent was entered by a bear. I am glad I have a two-door tent!

My trail name has changed to Kat Tracks. I have been walking with Anthony who is called DawgCity, so together we have become Kat Dawg. Dawg City (DC) is going to leave the trail before Damascus so I will be dawgless after that. I have met so many amazing people I don’t think I will be lonely. Next blog I will tell you about some of them. Their stories are inspiring, the people living them incredibly brave. The trail is a giant equalizer and there are all sorts of people out here putting one foot in front of another, walking together towards the same distant goal. The Greatest Mountain, Katahdin.

See you in the woods!

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Comments 3

  • Paul DeMeo : Jun 12th

    Kat Track,

    The friends and family of Alan Stuart, “Faceplant” are devastated at his loss and appreciate you for sharing your friendship with him. His dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail came true as he climbed the “Stairway to Heaven”. Again, thanks for your post!


  • Simon : Jun 12th

    I enjoyed reading your post, it’s well writen. Sorry to hear about faceplant, you honored him with your story. Our condolences go out to his family. Bless his family and all who crossed paths with him. Keep safe and walk on !

  • Brenda E Mertz : Jun 20th

    The story of “faeplant” was beautiful. I pray for him and his family and my husband and myself just got off of the trail we started in Vt. God must of needed him at this time and may he rest in peace. I know after we hiked from Springer Mt. where the trail starts to the Shenandoah in 2018 the woods is my peace also. Were so blessed we had 5 more days to start doing Vt. Back home, back to work, back to our awesome family but miss the woods. Every year the woods take some people from us and I just pray they are at peace because you do feel so intouch with everything around you. The beauty is everywhere you go and the next day awaits you to see more. We made beautiful friends we keep intouch with and hope to have a reunion here in Fla for them in 2022. The connection is like no other. Its immediate, its true and A.T. hikers are like my dad lived his life “You never meet a stranger” on the A.T.


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