Appalachian Trail Mile 165.9; Fontana Dam Visitors Center

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 (Day 14)

The trail was mild and well behaved. No extreme ups or downs today. I came to the parking lot where people catch a shuttle to Fontana Village. The bathrooms were nice. I brushed out my hair (a long and sweat-tangled process), which always ends with relief that permanent dreads were not in fact formed. There was a soda pop machine, but it was out of service. Sodas are bad for me anyway. Someone left a chicken flavor off-brand ramen noodles packet in a very large zip-lock labeled “trail magic”. I opened it and ate the noodles dry, discarding the flavor packet and contemplating how much further I planned to go. I decided it best to bring some water so that I could stop at any moment (no repeats of last night). I returned to the bathroom and filled up, drinking some in the process. Dry noodles are dehydrating.

I ventured on. I passed a shelter where some other hikers were preparing for bed. They mentioned that the trail follows the road for a mile and a half or so before hitting the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I continued walking and came to the Fontana Dam Visitors Center. I had read that they had showers. Also that they were closed on Wednesdays. Oh how I longed for one. It had been five days since the last. I had regretted not paying the .25 cents/minute for one at the NOC. Lo and behold, not only did I find the showers, but they were accessible,  luxurious, hot, and free!

I showered, washed my socks in the sink, gathered my things, and–to my great pleasure–located a working outlet! Showering and recharging my phone and battery pack are the two things that make staying in town overnight appealing. To accomplish these things on trail free of charge is positively fantastic, saving time and money in the long run. So I have decided to post up for the night.

Another perk: The tap in the restroom runs hot water, so I have used that to make my instant mashed potatoes,  as I am low on fuel.

It looks like there is some automated lighting running along the perimeter of the building. I would prefer to sleep in the dark. That’s alright. The moon has been oh so very bright I have had trouble sleeping either way (what a beautiful problem to have!). Didn’t get to sleep until after three in the morning last night. I hope to rest better tonight. Either way, I have to rise bright and early…an integral part of stealth camping. I am starting to wonder if sleeping under such bright lighting is safe. I am near a road. The light makes me clearly visible. One is most vulnerable when sleeping. I may leave my things and slip in to the darkness.

Or not.

Okay. I moved to the opposite side of the soda machine. I am no longer directly visible from the road.

Good night.

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