5.4 miles, 164.6 overall (Fontana Dam resort)
I cook the Mountain House eggs and bacon again for breakfast because it is all I have. This time I use less water than the package calls for and I have better luck – they taste edible this time. UV is almost ready when I am so I wait a minute for her before I leave. We get out of camp at the same time as several other hikers but being the fastest we take the lead.
The plan today is a short hike into town. It begins with much more uphill than we would like, but at the top through the trees we are rewarded with a view of Fontana Dam. The trail actually goes across the dam, and we will cross it tomorrow. For now it serves as a marker of how much further we have to go to get to town. On the descent we notice that at lower elevations the forest has become lush, with spring in full bloom.
It doesn’t take us long to get to the bottom but we take our time and Ninja catches us before we reach the road. We register for our backcountry permits for the Smokeys and call for a shuttle up to Fontana Village. On the way the driver gives us the low-down on where things are, where to eat, etc. We start at the post office and general store, picking up packages and scoping out what is available for purchase. Once we’re done we head up to the lodge to check in.
One of the first things we notice walking through Fontana is the sports cars. It seems like every car is a 2 seater. As we look closer, we notice most of them are the same model – Chrysler Crossfire. People all over the resort are outside waxing their Crossfires. I didn’t know there was a cult following for this type of vehicle, but apparently Crossfire owners hang out in their free time.
The Lodge doesn’t have a room open for us yet so we go to lunch. We sit outside and can see hikers arriving while we eat. When we’re almost done we notice the Georgia boys. We thought they would be about a day behind us, so apparently they’ve been hiking fast. Superstar also joins us for lunch. By the time we are done it is 1:30 so I head to the front desk to check if the room is open. It is not, but apparently I have been polite enough to the receptionist because she tells me to hold on a minute and she switches my room with one that is ready. While she does it she tells me about a woman who was just in who was yelling at her for losing her reservation. Turns out the woman was at the wrong hotel. Just goes to show you – be nice to service industry workers, they often have the ability to go out of their way to help you out but who’s going to want to go the extra mile for you if you yell at them?
The rest of the day is spent showering, then doing laundry at the laundromat and resupplying at the general store. The selection is much better than NOC, and I’m able to find everything I need. Once the laundry is done it is back to eating. We get to the restaurant around 6:30, just before the group of Crossfire owners. Apparently they have a big group dinner planned. We are able to get our orders in before they do and thus avoid the need to steal food from other tables to satisfy our hunger. On the way out we laugh about the multitude of Crossfires in the parking lot.
In the room after dinner we rationalize and pack our food while watching tv. A Jackie Chan movie provides some entertainment, although we all agree it is horrible. We get to bed around 10, a late night for hikers. Zorra has a car and has offered to drive us down to the trail in the morning. Tomorrow we will enter the Smokeys on the Appalachian Trail!