11-3-09 day 154
start: Mollies Ridge Shelter, GSMNP
end: Fontana Dam Shelter (Fontana Hilton), NC
daily mileage: 11.3
total mileage: 2014.6
In part because we wanted to make up mileage from our Gatlinburg stay, we were planning on getting to Fontana Dam Shelter by lunch and then power on to Cable Gap Shelter for a respectable 18 mile day or so. We knew about the hiker feed going on at Fontana Dam... we were just hoping that they'd be there for lunch. We had a great morning with the woodland critters, especially Sea Monster. He saw some little black things up on a ridge running away - when he got a good look at them, he realized they were wild boars! Awesome! Later, we both saw a bear that's been hanging around the trail for a while (in fact, he's been a subject of hiker trail buzz recently). Sea Monster snapped off some great pics of him right in the middle of the trail, up close and personal.
We met the guys running the hiker feed (Ox and Hopeful) just north of the dam. They were going into the woods to do some trail maintenance, but talked about all the wonderful food they'd be serving that night and the next morning... it was just something we couldn't pass up! You can't let hiking get in the way of your trail experience, you know. So we decided to stay. Ox gave me the keys to his truck (he was going to be doing maintenance for a few hours) so we could grab soap and shampoo and towels for the showers at the Fontana Dam visitors center. We had a lazy afternoon at the trail shelter there, which is one of the nicest on the trail. It's even nicknamed the "Fontana Hilton." Fiddler and Tin Man joined us later in the day, and Ox and Hopeful got back and cooked up an AMAZING dinner with red potatoes as a base, and sausage, peppers, onion, butter, sour cream, salsa, and some spices for flair. MAN SALAD! Then we built a giant fire with the absurd amounts of firewood they brought in their trucks and stayed up late chatting around the fire. An awesome night.