Day 18 leaving Fontana Dam

I woke at 7am  and remarkably I was alive  with no hangover which was amazing considering the rocket fuel that I was drinking  last night and the fact that I was sent to bed.!!
I walked to the nearest picnic table and made a brew. Oh that magic liquid soon  revived me.
I slowly packed up  before noticing that my phone was dead so I put it on charge. Soon I was ready
Omg my pack was so heavy, but I am carrying 7 days of food to get me through the Smokies.
I was going to have a shower before I left, but the next minute I am walking towards the Dam.
it wa such a beatuiful  morning as I set  off to  cross the dam  anf  head into the smokies
I stopped by the dam visitor centre and then had a panic as I couldn’t find my AT passport. I stripped down my pack and eventually  found it in my puffy jacket.
I got it got stamped before  heading  back out towards the dam . It was a lovely walk as i crossed  over  the  dam   once across i  posed with  the Smokies  sign  and was excited  about  entering the Smokies whoop.
I walked up  the  road  wondering  if i was going the correct way  as their were no markers.
at  last   a sign  and  i was soon standing by the sign in box where I had to post my permit.
Right here we go  i am  now  in the smokies  or rather the start of  it . I walked on  but i  knew that it was going to be a tough climb in fact  I would  be climbing all day.
It started and it continued for the entire morning.
Omg it was steep. It was steep, it was hot and it was steep.
I chugged up the trail playing leapfrog with other hikers. In the distance I could see the Fire Tower that  was about  3 miles away..  As i continued  climbing  the firetower slowly got nearer and nearer .
AS  i  came around  a coener , I could  see  Big Red resting,  Then Dan, Beth and Tentless came down from the Tower.
It’s worth a look Snail. they said in unison
So reluctantly I carried on up and  began  to climb up the firetower .
although i didnt go all the way to the top  but  Wow what a view!!
I came down  then tok a 5 minute  break   before returning to the trail

It was about 5 more miles to the next shelter called Molly’s Shelter and i fely good   as i made my way along the trail.
I hiked on until 3 pm when I stopped for a rest and long drink. I checked my map  , Great  it was  about 2 miles  to the shelter , I  continued on until i saw a sign  for water so  decided to fill up with water. When I  arrived at  the stream,  Magic (Tom) and 2 girls. where  also  filling  up their  water bottles
I filled up two bottles  before  heading back yo the trail . Magic said that he was going to push on past Molly’s.
“I will wait to I get there then decide” i said .
The next 2 miles were typically up and I struggled as it was so  hot , I hope  i  have  enough water!  As  i was drinking it at a fast  rate
Soon Molly’s   came into view , Tarzan & Whitety were already here.
You pushing on Snail? They Asked.
“Yeah right” I puffed.
I paused  to  catch my breath  before  head onwards ( I hope this isn’t a mistake  i  said to myself)  Imeaditotly  I began to  climb   and began to get second  thoughts  before  i  began the  decent

big up then down.

I puffed my way up the first climb then it was down.
But the downs were steep  and i went slow   to protect my knees  until  at last the trail leveled out and I was able to get some speed up. The hours ticked slowly by, where  is that bloody shelter?
I continued to pound down the trail oh my god where are you? my  watch pinged informing me that another hour had passed , bloody he’ll  where  is the bloody shelter as I was beginning to run out of steam!
At Last the shelter came into view. I could see Dan and big Red. I dropped my pack and changed my top. Then I went and got water it was a fair  way   so  i  took several bottles.
There were many   hikers  here   so  i  thought i would set  up my  tent  untill the Ridge runner (i) informed  me  that  this was not allowed  in the  smokies . (ii)

 

Tea first. Then hot chocolate  followed by Mac cheese with bacon, but it didnt really hitthe spot  and so made  another hot chocolate.
I grabbed a space in the shelter.(ii)
Then went for a poo in the woods.
I then hung my food bag tend then to bed

 

Start 165.3
Finish 180.1
mileage 14.8 miles
Remaining 2010 Miles

(i) What is a ridge runner 

Roughly 30 ridgerunners are hired by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) each season to hike and camp along sections of the Appalachian Trail. Their job is to report on trail conditions, water availability, shelter closings, bear activity and spread important news related to hiker safety, effective food storage in bear country and Leave No Trace practices

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee/North Carolina)

Shelter Policy: Great Smoky Mountains National Park regulations state that it is Mandatory that you stay in a shelter. While other backpackers must make reservations to use backcountry shelters, thru-hikers are exempt. From Mar. 15 to June 15, four spaces at each A.T. shelter are reserved for thru-hikers. If the shelter is full, thru-hikers can tent close by. Only thru-hikers can tent next to shelters, so they are responsible for making room for those who have reservations in the shelters.

The Smokies Shelter Fun

Several times when I arrived at a shelter, the shelter was basically empty, but the ridge runner informed me that the shelter was reserved by at least eight people and there may not be room for thru-hikers.
But I was prepared to tent which was my preference
Other times especially with bad weather    shelters have been packed   and the policy is if a reserved hiker turns up the last through hiker get ejected

Another Time the Ridge runner insisted that we all sleep in the shelter until Near dusk a group of four rolled in with a reservation, so it was tough luck for the last four thru-hikers who had arrived as they would be shoved outside. It was only clear who the very last person in was, and with him searching for a flat spot to pitch a tent, many others slowly pulled their sleeping bags up over their heads as if nothing was happening.

Sanitation

The shelter situation also has a sanitation issue, as there are no Privies
What you get is access to a a large spade
Meaning that “Waste” is being haphazardly dispersed near the shelter area. While there are designated toilet areas, the abundance of TP blooms is both unsightly and unsanitary.
Although these toilet areas are typically on the opposite side of the ridge from a water source, the several storms I witnessed soon blow this waste around the shelters and possibly into the water

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