AT Day 012: Wednesday April 19, 2023

Mile 148.8 + 17 miles / 26.5 km

Total Distance Hiked:  165.8 miles /  km

Camp – Mt Possible – Stecoah Gap – Sweetwater Gap – Brown Fork Shelter – Brown Fork Gap – Hogback Gap – Cody Gap – Yellow Creek Gap – Cable Gap Shelter – Walker Gap – Fontana Dam Marina – Fontana Dam Shelter

A:3810 ft/ m – – D: 5549ft/ m 

Late last night as we were falling asleep a hiker walked past our tent. We were camped right by the trail. This was quite common on the PCT, especially in the desert. Today is predicted to be a warm day, so maybe they were getting some miles in the cool of the evening.

We broke camp and were on our way before 7am. The birdsong and the morning were dominated by the sound of busy highway traffic in the valley below. A couple of miles from camp we crossed the source of the noise at Stecoah Gap. A busy highway carrying mainly truck traffic. Here we found a bonus –  trash cans. We can dump the rubbish we were carrying. It’s the little things.

We met another hiker who stopped here, trail name  Rambo, he caught up to us later in the morning and we hiked with him for a bit. He is originally from Maine but was in the military so moved around a bit. Now taking a break from work and looking for a career reset. 

The climb from Stecoah Gap was an unforgiving couple of miles. These climbs are not getting any easier. The noise from the truck traffic was slowly receding and the bird song took over. 

We fell into a silence with the sound of birds twittering to each other above us and the all too frequent aeroplane passing. 

Time for reflection and contemplation while the miles slowly ticked by. I was roused from my thoughts by the sight of the most gorgeous slipper orchids. They were simply exquisite. I took a few photos and was most reluctant to leave them. I hope they continue to shine. 

We stopped for lunch at Yellow Creek Gap. It feels like time has slowed. Maybe it’s the heat. The afternoon to Fontana Dam draged on and on. At some point  hiking felt like we were moving through molasses. It felt like we would never make it to the dam. So I switched my thinking. I’m only passing through here once, why waste the beauty that is all around rushing to get to a destination that is imagined to hold all the things I’m missing. That flipped a switch and the early afternoon to Fontana Dam Marina was delightful, even if a bit on the warm side.

It was nice to reach the marina, buy our resupply and sit on the deck having a cold beer waiting for the heat of the day to pass and all our devices to charge. From here we only plan to hike a short mile to the shelter before entering the Great Smoky Mt NP. 

The afternoon on the marina deck was most relaxing getting to know a few other hikers and having a laugh. 

With our devices fully charged we walked the short mile to the most luxurious shelter on the AT, affectionately refered to as the Fontana Dam Hilton. It has power to charge devices, running hot and cold water, flushing toilets and hot showers, total luxury. 

And sleeping out under the night sky was captivating as always. It makes my imagination soar and makes me feel so small and insignificant.