A little taste of a thru-hike

(Pre-PCT road trip, day 2)

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We drove into the Appalachian mountains today. Mountains! Adam and I decided to head down near Smoky Mountain National Park where the Appalachian Trail comes in near Fontana Dam.  We wanted to hike a mile or two on the trail for fun.

When we pulled in to park, I noticed a backpacker standing on the road with his pack off. An AT thru-hiker! I was so freakin’ excited!! We introduced ourselves and I asked him what his trail name was and he said it was Firedrill. He was looking to go to Fontana Village a little ways down the road for resupply and needed a ride. Adam, of course, said “sure!” There wasn’t room for all 3 of us so Adam drove him and I stayed back to check out the trail and decide where we’d take our little hike.

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Thru-hiker Firedrill

I crossed the road, read the AT trail sign and walked a little ways in. I stood there next to a white-blazed tree and noticed that my heart was beating pretty hard… and I had this awesome feeling deep in my gut… happiness and excitement bottled up just waiting for the PCT.

Adam got back and we hiked about 3/4 of a mile in… all uphill! On our way back out we stopped and chatted with Anne and Zippy, two more thrus. Then we drove around to see Fontana Dam and there were thru-hikers all over! I guess we were there at just the right time!

And dammit! We didn’t have any beer or Snickers! I so wish we’d had something we could have shared with them… we didn’t think that all the way through! Oh well… it was great to get a taste of a long trail. It didn’t hurt that I was able to hike in shorts. It was nearly 80º and sunny! And there were beautiful mountains all around!

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View of the Smoky Mountains and Fontana Lake.

So that was the highlight today for sure. Other tidbits from the trip that we thought were fun:

I brushed my teeth in two gas station parking lots and one rest stop parking lot. Hey, it’s probably more sanitary than the restrooms. People just look at ya funny. And that’s fine with me!

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Brushin' at a Love's.

We slept in the car at a Love’s Truck Stop last night. Well lit and safe. :)

Breakfast was coffee and oatmeal from Adam’s Jetboil, enjoyed at a rest area picnic table in Kentucky.

We met Adam’s friend Joel (from Oshkosh) last night for a few minutes in Louisville because he just happened to be there the same time we were – for a volkswagon gathering. We were surrounded by a hundred VWs. It was pretty awesome.

We listened to Banjoey bluegrass music through the Tennessee mountains.

The Pickle Jar’s emissions light came back on. We hope it was something from all the switchbacks and it’s just tired.

And to wrap this up, an awesome quote from Adam today:
“Now that I’m not working, I wish everyday was a weekday.”
(He was referring to the traffic)

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