Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 1

I stayed warm in the crowded shelter but woke to a cold, cold morning in the North Carolina mountains. I expected today to be an "easy" day into the shelter at Fontana Dam, the southern boundary of the Smoky Mountains...but I was STIFF when I got up this morning, due to the big day yesterday. The knee felt okay but my right foot has been bothering me the last few days; this morning I hobbled around for awhile before the pain subsided. I finally hit the trail around 9 expecting my frozen hands to warm themselves up with the exertion of the initial climb but that was definitely not happening. I stopped to dig out my gloves just as Tomahawk was passing me and he offered his pre-warmed gloves to save me the hassle of fumbling around through my stuff with semi-useless fingers...thank you Tomahawk! After 20 more minutes or so I was warm and had regained all functionality...good thing because I crossed a ridge on which on the trees and leafage were painted with a thin layer of ice and I just had to stop and take pictures. It was so beautiful. It was obvious that the mountains in the distance had received snow as well. A neat thing to see on a welcome sunny morning.
The descent to Fontana Dam was painful (maybe I should have taken some Ibuprofen last night?) but Pappy, Phil, AJ, Muffin Man, Cricket, and I arrived at the shelter, coined the "Fontana Hilton" for its size and (relative) luxury. We claimed our spots and headed into town for some food, laundry, and minor resupply. As soon as we got back I jumped in the (free!) shower here at the Hilton. It was by far the greatest shower I've had on the trail thus far...lots of hot water and lots of pressure. Tomahawk and Cricket got a nice fire going so everyone has been up late...because we're taking a zero tomorrow! I cannot wait to dry out my gear, spend an entire day with a bathroom readily available, and give my body a good rest. My fingernails are dirt-free, my clothes are stench-free, and the sun is poised to shine. Life is good.
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