Taking a Dam Break

Day 15: 2,630 ft ascent, 10.8 miles

We had a hard climb out of camp this morning, steeper than usual. We slogged up the mountain and were rewarded with a beautiful breakfast spot on Cheoah Bald.

Breakfast on Cheoah Bald

We then raced downhill to Stecoah Gap after breakfast to meet our ride into Robbinsville for lunch and a resupply. Erik’s parents shuttled us around town as we gathered supplies to get us to and through the Smokey Mountains. The resupply trip at the store included meals for 10 days! We planned to meet Erik’s parents again at Newfound Gap with the supplies we needed for the second half of the Smokey Mountains.

We got back to the trail and were not prepared for what we all considered the worst climb we had countered so far! It wasn’t that long, but it was really steep, we were full of food, and our packs were extra heavy out of town. We were all happy to find our campsite quickly that night and get to bed!

Day 16: 2,080 ft ascent, 11.3 miles

Sunsets on the trail never get old.

We got an early start with the goal of getting into camp for lunch and taking a lazy afternoon before the Smokies. Camp was planned for Fontana Dam, a place I road-trip to go visit about every other year for fun. (I’m an enginerd, what can I say?) Erik and I walked to the visitor center at the dam and were rewarded with finding the best hiker box on the trail this far! Hiker boxes are boxes at local businesses along the trail where hikers can leave extra supplies for others to pick up. This hiker box was actually supplied by volunteers at the Fontana Dam visitor center! I picked up some toothpaste, sunscreen, and a Reese’s Cup!

One of the nicer privies I’ve visited.

Day 17: Unexpected Zero

When we got into Fontana Dam the day before we were tired and looking at 9 more days straight without a break. I suggested we take a zero at the Fontana Hilton. It didn’t take too much convincing to get the others to agree.

The Fontana Hilton!

Finding creative ways to dry my hair after a shower.

The Fontana Hilton is one of the nicest shelters on the trail. It has electric and showers! We set up our tents a little away from the shelters (and party). Erik and I took a trip into Fontana Village two miles away for the day to do some laundry, eat (all the food), and putt putt!

When I say we ate all the food… we ate all the food. We both had the breakfast buffet, Erik had wings for lunch, I had a bacon cheeseburger and fries, and then we got a gluten free pizza to go that we ate back at our tents. And did I mention the Reese’s Cups too?

Breakfast buffet


Erik and I decided to walk back to the dam visitor center that night to check out the showers available there. As we left camp for the half mile walk I started feeling nauseous. The feeling only got worse as we got there and I showered. As we were walking back to camp, I found a drainage grate in the road and out came what felt like everything I had eaten that day!

I felt much better after that and was ready to go for a big day the next day! After some googling, I decided I had probably just overeaten and my stomach couldn’t handle all the extra food. Whoops. I apologize to any hikers who were eager to get to the Smokies the next morning only to be greeted by the smell of my puke as they started their day.

There was construction at the dam with a temporary reroute for hikers. I liked this sign that pointed to Maine down the dam spillway, which is a giant hole to blackness.

Big fan of the views at Fontana Dam!

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