I slept on the ground last night on a slight incline. Well it seemed slight when I set my tarp on the ground but as I woke up time and time again it seemed to get steeper. At 6am I woke up with my bottom half hanging out in the rain and with a frown on my face.
The rain stopped mid morning but the breeze was still bitter. I made a máte and ate breakfast way too slow. Waiting around when it’s wet and windy is masochistic. I didn’t warm up until I got moving.
We hit Stecoah gap mid day and got a little magic in the form of bacon flavored Goldfish. This particular crossing was the only place I’d crossed the AT in the past two years. Peter, or Hollywood, and I drove through a few times and stopped, hoping to see hikers (we never did). Pete’s a damn fool for skipping out on this one.
Snuggles, Caboose, and I hiked hard trying to catch Rockman. I met him making camp at Cody gap and the oncoming rain persuaded me to stay, though it was a bit earlier than I had wanted to stop. As if affirming a good decision, I learned he was camping with Wings and Tesla so the sell was quick.
Caboose set her tent up but it was so wet she decided it’d be more comfortable sharing my DSM hammock. The invitation was open but I really didn’t expect to sleep so well. I only woke up once to a confusing conversation between a screech owl and a barred owl.
Our camp at Cody gap was within 10 miles of Fontana so we got up and booked it. Caboose already got a room for us four so I was enlivened, day dreaming of actual food and a steamy shower.
Don’t worry mom I got a salad. Don’t worry dad I got dessert.
We hit the road after a stiff decline with great views of Fontana lake. We caught a shuttle around the TVA complex to the nicest room so far.
I never eat at gas stations but when I touch civilization I bee line to grease. The others checked in to the hotel while I caught a ride with Chewy, Wings, and Tesla to the overpriced gas station with beer on tap. We promptly ordered low grade pizza and hot dogs with high grade hoppy pints.
Tesla enjoyed her pickle and dog until she asked me what was in the hot dog. Apparently its always pork in Scotland. She was unhappy to learn the contrary. I should have waited until she was done to tell her.
Tesla is my oldest friend on the trail. We camped the first few nights together and I was excited to share her company again. She’s very excited to take a zero day (no trail milage) and go to the one place she wanted to see in this country other then the trail, Dollyworld.
I grabbed provisions for the room (beer, Black and Milds, and chips) and hoofed it up to the room. We washed, laid everything out to dry and planned food for the smokies. The consensus was to go heavy and skip the tacky armpit of the south that is Gatlinburg. Lets hope it sticks.
Deep fried, smoked chicken for dinner beat the shit out of my dehydrated green peppers with starch. Don’t worry mom I got a salad. Don’t worry dad I got dessert.
Alas another night in a bed. Makes me feel a little weak but I think its the right choice. Its hard to wish you were still wet, hungry, and smelly. Smokies tomorrow. Bring it, I’m ranger strong.