Smokies here I come!
Where I left off
Leaving Franklin, NC
I left Franklin and got to the trail head pretty late since the hostel owner just could not get organized. Even though I checked with him 2 days prior and then last night where I needed to be brought, he had to call somebody else to shuttle me. I did not get hiking until noon, blah!!! I did have an easy day mile wise but I was tired (probably from the 5 miles walking around town yesterday) and did not have much energy. I needed to get to NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) before 5pm to pick up a resupply package so I had to haul ass! I made it just before they closed but unfortunately picked up a blister on my right heel. My left foot is not too sore. Not sure if that is because of the steroid shot or I did not do a lot of down hill. Only time will tell.
For the last 50 miles or so I have been hiking through the fire ravaged area between Dick’s Creek Gap all the way to NOC. Hikers last year that were going south bound and hit that area in November were not allowed to go through this area. I met 2 hikers that were doing that section this year to finish up. When it is humid, you can smell the smoke and it is sad to see the damage. I realize that fire is needed to renew the forest but this was man made and destroyed a lot.
I stayed at a great B&B further down the trail but they offered shuttle service as well as slack packing. It turns out they bought this place 3.5 years ago. Cynthia is a vet who is American but had lived until 2013 in Canada for over 20 years. She married Jeff a Canadian. So it was like a Canadian reunion. They are extremely nice, laid back and wonderful. Their house is in the middle of the mountain with a creek running right outside. They have 4 dogs as well as a foster dog who has wheels on the back legs since she is paralyzed. Name is Creekside Paradise and I can’t recommend it enough even for people who just want to get away. It feels like home away from home.
I arrived on Thursday evening then slack packed the hill from NOC which is over 3300 ft elevation over 7 miles on Friday. I wanted to die or at least hitch hike up it but no luck. That night my friend Christina drove from Nashville to come and visit then take Yankee back on Sunday. I then slack packed another 8 miles on Saturday while Christina provided trail magic while waiting for me to finish my hiking day. I think we served about 20 hikers who were all very appreciative. I can’t describe the feeling of arriving at a point and finding cold drinks, snacks and sometimes even fresh fruit. It is incredible. Christina had a chance to meet some of the people I have been hiking with and see what it is all about. She even got a trail name Phoenix due to her hair style. I can’t thank her enough for driving all the way down after a long day at work, then spending her weekend around smelly hikers and driving back.
On Sunday, I spent sometime organizing my boxes, packing Yankee’s stuff then said goodbye to Christina and Yankee before again slack packing to Fontana area. Did I mention how much I love slack packing? Made it to Fontana Dam and returned to the B&B.
Just before going into the Smokies, hikers can stay at a shelter they call Fontana Hilton. It is called that because it has a large 2 storied shelter, charging station as well as a brick building with real toilets and a shower.
Today I am taking a zero before starting the Smokies. There is snow in the forecast for later this week and I will not have Yankee to keep me warm.
SO HERE I COME SMOKIES!!!
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