Posted by: athike2011 | March 28, 2011

3/26 – 3/27

3/26 – 6.9 miles to Sasafrass Shelter

Today’s plan was for a 16 mile day to make it an easy day into Fontana Dam, however, the start of our hike from NOC, which is at 1,700 ft to the top of the mountain, which is a little over 5,100 ft was cut short by a biting cold thunderstorm. By the time I had powered up the mountain to the first shelter I was soaked to the bone and shivering cold. There was a spot in the shelter so I decided to be safe and call it a day a little before 2pm and warm up while waiting out the storm. Most people, myself included tried to hang up their clothes to dry, however this proved to be the wrong idea, as within an hour the thick fog and wet air had everything wetter than before. I mostly laid in my sleeping bag, listening to my iPod waiting for dark to finally try to sleep. When it finally did get dark is when the thunder and lightning started up, often close enough to rattle the whole shelter. Other than some back pain, I believe from my lack of stretching after the hike, I slept well through the night.

3/27 – 20.7 miles to Fontana Dam, NC

After waking up at about 6:45 this morning very rested, I packed up my wet clothes and put on what was left dry, one pair of boxers, some long johns, and a t-shirt and set out. The first push right out of the shelter was brutal, another 600 ft straight up. The rain was being kind to us, but the fog and wind were still going strong. Big drops of water were falling from the trees with the wind and somehow all of them ended up going down the back of my neck. After reaching the top of the first push it was mostly downhill, but that is always coupled with a number of moderate ups as well. We got to the first gap and had apparently just missed a bit of trail magic as there were empty pizza and soda boxes, I did manage to get a diet coke, not my favorite by any stretch, but I’ll take the caffeine any day. From there we headed up Jacobs Ladder, which was by far the steepest sustained climb of the trail, had to take my time with that. A lunch break followed not long after as the rain was still holding out, but there was another 11 miles to go yet. By the time we got to the last shelter before town, about 5.5 miles from the road, my legs were jello. There was one more 1.5-2 mile climb, fairly gentle, but all uphill none the less, before our decent to the road. My whole body was sore and I was literally just throwing one leg forward at a time to keep myself moving. We got to the road exhausted, but were greeted by a fellow hikers wife offering delicious 7-layer bars, caught a ride into the lodge, did laundry, showered and ate dinner, quickly followed by sleep.



  1. Wow sounds like the worst so far. If you can make it through all that you can make it through anything! I hope that’s the worst of it though.

  2. I love these pictures. I can just smell the wet clothes.
    I don’t think I’ve appreciated my own bed, fully, until I began reading this.
    Take care of the knee.

    And the picture from breakfast arrived today. It’s great!

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