Friday, May 11, 2007

Doing Well at Fontana Dam

This morning Lauren and I dropped into Fontana Dam and phoned for the $2 shuttle to take us over to Fontana Village for our resupply.

Fontana Village is the city/camp that was built in the 1940s during the construction of the Dam, to harness power for WWII efforts. Specifically the dam was built to power the Alcoa production of Aluminum in the area. Fontana Dam is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, located at the southern boundary of the park.

Resting at Fontana Village

Fontana Dam is also where we mailed another box of food as well as the destination of our first "bounce box" -- a box with extra tent stakes, sunscreen and lotions, repair kit and other things that we may only occasionally need. Since we did not need anything from our bounce box, we just changed the destination address and forwarded it to Hot Springs, N.C. for free, where we'll have access to it in a few weeks.

Crossing the Fontana Dam

To this point we've had the trail to ourselves, except for the occasional day hiker. We seem to be approaching a pack of northbounders where many zero days at the "Fontana Hilton" -- a shelter by the dam that is actually a double-wide trailer with running water nearby and a garbage can.

Lauren is rocking this trail and makes it look easy. On cooler mornings she starts the day in lightweight tights and I am not exaggerating when I say that I can see veins in her calves showing through them! Yesterday she carried more than her share of food to help me rest my leg, making her pack the same weight as mine -- around 25lbs with 7 days of food.

I'm not having too hard of a time with the trail either, but despite our light loads, my low-impact training on the bicycle has not translated well to the thousands of daily footfalls. My I.T. band recovered well with our zero day, but I am showing signs of a shin splint in my right leg. Fortunately this type of injury is not serious and I'll be able to walk through it in the next week or two.

On the trip so far, we've had incredible weather and have only needed to pitch our tarp 3 times. All of the other nights we've slept out under the stars on our groundsheet listening to a chorus of songbirds.

The Smoky Mountains are notorious for poorly behaved bears (and poorly behaved people who habituate those bears with human food!) so regulations are quite tightly mandated and enforced. Through the Smokies you are required to stay at the shelters only (think mice, snoring, hard floors and 10 other people... ?). Rather than dwelling on the negatives, we are hoping that it won't be too bad and that we're able to meet some interesting fellow hikers.

We're doing well mentally, are communicating well, and Lauren is already saying things like "I can't wait to hike the trail again." Smokies, here we come.

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