Monday, November 4, 2013
AT - Fontana Lake to Newfound Gap
Fontana Dam to Mollies Ridge Shelter 9.9 miles
Mollies Ridge Shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter 11.7
Derrick Knob Shelter to Double Springs Shelter 7.2
Double Springs Shelter to Newfound Gap Road 10.8
Total Miles: 39.6
Well it was time for another section hike of the Appalachian trail. We started off right with a homemade cookies from Lora's mom and a homemade caramel chocolate apple from my mom. It was added weight, but it sure was worth it:)
My Dad and Mom took us to the trailhead at Fontana Lake. We had a picnic lunch and then off we went. Dad and Mom took our car and was going to drop it off at Newfound Gap. It was a late start at 1:30pm and we had 9.9 miles to our first shelter on a short day.
The colors were beautiful as we headed up the mountain. It was all uphill today. We had to stop at Shuckstack tower to absorb the view. We saw a couple of dayhikers at the tower and they were heading back out saying it was getting late. Well, we still had 6.5 miles to do so we headed out soon afterwards. The higher we got the less colors there were.
After Doe Knob we dropped into Ekaneetlee Gap so we could climb back up Mollies Ridge. We got to Mollies Ridge Shelter right at dark. A few minutes later we would have had to use our headlamps. There were two guys from Alabama at the shelter and they had gotten a fire going in the fireplace. Now that's a sign of a rookie. Yes, we got to breath smoke all night long. It was a first backpack for one of them and it was a first time in the Smoky's for both of them. We had a good visit before time to call it a night. We got to hear both a Barred Owl and a Screech Owl.
We got up and off to a early start today. Today was going to be alot of uphill. In between Russell Field and Spence Field we met a group of the Nashville Meet Up people doing a backpack. They were taking a break when we went by.
We climbed to Russell Field and then Spence Field followed by a climb to Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. Between Spence Field and Rocky Top the sleet started. As continued our climb up Thunderhead Mountain it turned to a mix of snow. We still got some great views all through this area. The last time I was up here, with my dear old Dad and Brother, we spent the entire trip in a cloud and had no views.
We got to drop off the other side of Thunderhead so we could start our climb back up to Derricks Knob. We got to the shelter and got camp set up. It was getting colder, so we got a fire going. Right at dark, three other backpackers showed up. They were from North Carolina. After everyone got fed, the guys went to bed and Lora and I stood around the fire until the snow got too bad. It snowed with a good wind all night long.
A good and cold morning. Today we were going to do some uphill. We got enough snow to make some snow cones. Yum Yum! It was cool walking through the area's where the clouds had passed over and left ice on all the branches and weeds. We climbed to Silers Bald Shelter for lunch. From here we climbed to Silers Bald for all the wonderful views. As far as you can see, beautiful mountains. We met some women from New York and Boston at the peak. While we were talking to them seven backpackers went by. You could tell we were getting closer to Clingmans Dome. Lora worked her magic and got to see a snake up here. It was a little grass snake, but all the same to her.
The ridge hike between Silers Bald and Clingmans Dome is full of beautiful views. It was our short day with the lay out of shelters in the Smoky's and you have to stay at the shelters. We stopped at Double Springs shelter for the night. We got in early so we got to find some firewood in this area. That is quite the challenge in a popular area. The women came back by on there hike back out to Clingmans Dome.
As it started to get dark the colder it got. The wind picked up and was blowing from every direction. We couldn't stay out of the smoke if we had too. After a good smoke battle we called it quits for the night.
We got up in the nice cold wind and made breakfast. Today we had some uphill to do. We climbed Clingmans Dome to the tower. There were a lot of people out this morning and views to be seen. Now alot of people think it is all down hill from here. There are a lot of ups and downs over the next eight miles. That is not even talking about Mt. Collins that you go over.
We saw a couple of other backpackers today. There is also one section that has been fenced off to keep hogs out of for a study of the impact they have on the area. You climb around the fence on a metal grate to keep the hogs out and hikers in.
At the parking lot at Newfound Gap you are always greeted by visitors and you are always a through hiker of the AT. They are ready for the stories. If you tell them anything else, you are a let down to them. We stopped by the bathrooms to clean up only to find that they have removed the sinks here and you only have hand cleaner. No hiker shower in the sink here!
204.7 miles done 1972 miles to go.
We stopped in Townsend for dinner and then we had the drive home. The only wildlife other than birds, squirrels, and chipmunks we see was a Grey Fox on the way home that was on our mountain.