On a train to Georgia

I watch the countryside glide by. It is all so new to me. I have never traveled this far East in the USA.

Post PCT and penniless, I decided to move to New Orleans, LA on November 30th 2016 to live the city-life and make money through the winter. I volunteered for free accommodation (which has been a cornerstone to making my travelling lifestyle possible) at Madame Isabelle’s House (a hostel) in Marigny, just outside of the French Quarter; and the Louisianna Himalaya Association (LHA) in Mid-City. Living this way continues to open up opportunities for saving, as well as exercise my strength in social adaptability (which is, well…uh: exhausted at this point). I managed to balance my volunteer work along with some paying gigs, both situated in the French Quarter: a gift shop on Decatur during the day, and serving cocktails on Bourbon in the evenings. Quite the experience catering to both the tourists and the thirsty-folk alike. Two things that make the local economy go ’round.

Bourbon is hands down unlike any other space for existence (or non-existence) I have ever experienced. It is like stepping in to another reality where everyone is drunk or intending to be or is intending to make money off of those intentions. It does not smell like roses. You may get hit by a string of beads. There is no car traffic down Bourbon, just people…literal hoards of people. You may get trampled or elbowed. Open containers are allowed on the street…often encouraged. There is no easy way to recycle glass, and plastic to-go cups are the go-to (so you can leave the bar at a whim and take your drink with you, of course). The waste is devistating.

The rest of the Quarter is quaint. I especially enjoyed strolling down Royal Street. It is littered with musical talent. Oh, the brass.

In short: New Orleans is unlawfully charming, quirky, beautiful, unique, and soaked in liquor.

But now. Now I am on a train to Georgia. Tomorrow. On May 3rd. One year after I began my venture from Mexico to Canada along the PCT, I will begin my solo thru-hike from Georgia to Maine!

Springer Mountain onward…sort of

I made it to Atlanta, Georgia the evening of May 2nd. I was picked up at the Amtrak station by a good friend of mine, Anthony or “Fat Tony” — his trail name. We met working at the Green Tortoise Hostel in Seattle, and both hiked the PCT last summer. He lives just outside of Atlanta. When he heard of my plans to hike the AT he immediately offered me a place to crash and a ride to the trailhead. AMAZING!

I officially began my trek from Springer Mountain sometime around 3pm on May 3rd. I ventured on for a mere 2.7 miles to a stream just before Stover Creek Shelter. I followed a side trail along the stream for as long as seemed reasonable and laid out my shiny new z-rest sleeping pad and sat upon it. I had chosen to stop there to gather my thoughts, to decompress. I had just left a very busy lifestyle in New Orleans, and had spent all of the previous day in transit. I could sit for a moment, I thought.


One thing lead to another and next thing I know I am pulling out my sleeping bag and getting snuggly near a large tree. At about 3 AM I am awakened by faint sprinkles. It’s coming, I thought. I pulled out my Tarptent Double Rainbow. I threw my things inside. I followed. I went back to sleep.

The next morning it was pouring rain. Pouring. What? I was not prepared for this.”So hot and humid in Georgia in May”, they said. Nope. It was wet, and cold. My moon-time came. I’m out of sync. I did not move.

May 5th, 2017; AT Mile: 2.7; 1503

More rain.

I saw a person, an individual a moment ago. Now I can hear a voice–there must be more than one. He is wearing a neon orange beanie. The unnatural kind that draws your eye from the scenery. A protective measure, I suppose. Though, statistically among those that vanish from the wilderness, the majority were last seen wearing very bright colors–and have dogs, interestingly enough. Anyway. I am not watching him, or them now. I only noticed him when I slipped out of my tent briefly to relieve myself.

Oh. How I long for solitude. I can feel my sense of adventure growing–but just now it is curled in the fetal position ready to be cooed by night dreams and day dreams alike. I hope to be more lively and social in days to come. Breathing this fresh air again was necessary.

As I slip in to my two-tone grey sleeping bag, with its hot pink inner lining, I imagine myself an awkward, indifferent little caterpillar inside my chrysalis of a tent. Just waiting to become a butterfly and discover the Appalachian Mountains. I will reawaken with fervor and that undying thirst for exploration.

I continued to listen to the rain clamor about me. That, and a concerned person who introduced himself through my tent as a “Trail Ambassador”. “Is everything ok?”  “Yes, thank you” I responded. “Ok. Sorry to interrupt”, he replied. How embarrasing. It was clearly time to go.

Appalachian Trail: Mile 2.7; 5/6/17; 08:09

It looks like it is time to truly get started. The rain has cleared, but the sun is not shining in all its glory. I have hopes.

I am excited for today.

My hands are cold. I am wearing my puffy and have covered my legs in my wool undergarment, something I never anticipated utilizing so soon in the game. I suppose this is not the Southern California desert, but the Northern mountains of Georgia. Having just spent 5 months in the humid flatlands of Louisiana…I may be reacclimating.

The thermometer looks like it reads 25°f. Can that be right? Time and temperature and distance all seem to me, on occassion, to be muddled–insignificant, even.

Time to go.

Appalachian Trail: Mile 14.5; 5/7/17; 08:01

I suppose I heard that the AT was a wetter trail, but I did not truly realize. I am sorely unprepared for the weather I have been encountering.

There were thunderstorms yesterday in the late afternoon/early evening. I had told myself I would hike until nightfall. I was determined to do just that. Unfortunately I seemed to have overlooked the fact that the raincoat I used last year on the PCT was no longer what one would consider “waterproof”. All of my clothes are sopping wet, save for my wool undershirt, my puffy, and one pair of socks. Now I am procrastinating I know all too well that stinging feeling of plastering your skin with cold wet clothing in the early hours of the day. If I lay here just a bit lonher it will surely get warmer outside. Oh. Just get on with it.

Appalachian Trail: Mile 24.0; 5/7/17; 22:06

I am in my tent at the Lance Creek Recreation Area, mile 24. The night is clear and warm. I would like to be uncovered beneath the stars, but my tent needs the opportunity to air out. That, and I have neighbors camped not far from me, I do not feel social as of yet. I could smell their campfire as I was approaching. They were speaking loudly and laughing. I am camped a couple hundred feet before them and the designated camping area. They did not spot me. That suits me well enough.

I traveled in to Dahlonega, GA today. Caught a hitch from the Woody Gap parking area. It was an easy hitch. Took no more than 15 minutes. Rusty was his name. A sweet man with a pick-up truck and a Southern drawl. He told me that his son thru-hiked the AT some years back, and he makes it a point to help out all the hikers he can. He dropped me off at Wal-Mart, ran his errands, scooped me back up and returned me to the trail. How marvelous! Getting in to, and especially back out of towns can be one of the trickiest parts of a thru-hike. Time is of the essence. Once night falls, there may be no return until the follow in morning. At Wal-Mart I got a Frogtog rainsuit and ditched the pricey rain-coat. I had found some Frogtogs in a hiker box in Northern Washington last year and they saved my life. Oversized clumsy looking things devoid of any style, but they are light and they work. I also re-upped on food-supplies, due to… well, being a bit slower than anticipated.

It felt very nice to hitch in to town. To meet Rusty. That is such an integral part of trail life–the hitching and the locals and the support. Lovely.

After returning to Woody Gap  I sat in the sun in the grass and slipped my clothes over sun-drenched stones to dry. I made my way about 4 more miles to where I sit. I can feel the lactic acid building, the soreness growing. I am excited to recline completely.

Tomorrow: Blood Mountain!

Appalachain Trail: Mile 31.4; 5/8/17; 18:12

I sit at a bench with fellow thru-hikers using the wifi at Mountain Crossing at Neels Gap. Awesome place. I was able to get some much needed (and maybe not so much needed) gear (more about this in a moment), some fair advice, and some hot coffee.

The summitting of Blood Mountain was great fun. Not nearly as difficult as I was made to believe. The descent was more rocky than the ascent. All and all it was a great hike.

Now let’s get back to the topic of gear.

This is what I set out with:

I realized after actually hitting the trail that, though I opt not to filter most of the time, the filtering of water is a nice option to have. For some reason I am not an Aquamira/tablet/drops kind of person. I prefer to physically filter. So I went back to the Sawyer Squeeze. I was pleased with it last year. All that was available this time was the mini, so we will see how that goes. Also…I bought a stove!!! An MSR Pocket Rocket. I went stoveless for the latter half of the PCT last year. Sure it was fine. But this is a positively thrilling luxury. Hot coffee and warm Idahoans, here I come! I also purchased a new raincoat. A basic no frills Marmot, and a rain skirt. And…”sleep socks”. Oh, how I love to day dream about my perfectly safe and dry, zip-locked, stuffed in the bottom of my sleeping bag, sleeping-only socks. That feeling of slipping them on after a long days hike is absolute bliss.

Appalachain Trail: Mile 43.4; 5/9/17; 15:40

Today was filled with many views and many voices. Some the sing-song kind of our feathered friends, others the chit-chattering of fellow humans. I amongst them at times. I move quickly but not swiftly. Making that shift of weight to my pack from my mind. Climbing and descending. Now and again pausing to spot a Ladybug, lift a remarkable stone from my path, or observe a flower not familiar. To stop suddenly in acknowledgement of the cool sweet mountain breeze. It livens the skin. Nothing feels sweeter.

Visitors to these woods is what we are. We hope to be welcomed guests for a season or two. But our voices can’t help but seem unnatural. The hauntingly graceful humming of the woods as echoed by the mountains is best appreciated in silence. Silence is what I have at this moment. Stillness is what I embody as life delicately dances about me.

It is spectacular.

The bird calls emanate from all directions. They start soft and grow louder with repitition. Now an owl calls deeply from the North. I can faintly hear the stream where I gathered my water. Just 1/10 of a mile South it slides gracefully down the mountain, cool and clear and confident. It cascades over the stones into the sea of green and brown. The trees are each so unique. A potpourri of textures and shades and sizes .Embracing one another, as if holding hands with their long limbs and curling tendrils. The sky is turning pink in the distance, creating grand mountainous silhouettes. I reach out and press my palm against a nearby tree. I am grounded.

I will sleep on the Earth beneath the stars tonight. The Moon is waxing, nearly full. The forest will stir and glow.

I will feel unobtrusive and unafraid.

I will feel like I am home.

Appalachian Trail: Mile 57.8

5/10/17; 22:27

Elevation: 4400 ft

I am at the top of Tray Mountain, high in the Chattahoochee Natonal Forest. The Moon is full and heavy behind me. The summit is rocky but there is a small open space to the left of the trail,  just level enough to allow for a comfortable nights cowboy camp. There are many bushes, I believe they are laurels, yet I face a clearing. Now, all I can make out in the distance are the faint lights of a city below. I hope to take in a beautiful sunrise.

Today was pleasant. I did not pass many people while hiking, but had conversations with three different groups as they came, collected their water, and made there way from the stream to a nearby shelter. I sat eating my lunch of cold soaked couscous, making small talk with each (I was feeling far more social this afternoon. Which one better be, if one plans on making themselves comfortable at a water source). Some were thru-hikers. Others out for a night or two.

One group, a father and son, spoke to me about some of their struggles on trail. The father had some experience hiking with a heavy pack from time spent in service, it was his sons first time hitting the trail. He mentioned that his pack was overweight and he was uncomfortable, and his son spoke of the awful pain in his feet. They were going to leave the trail a bit earlier than planned, but did mention that they would pick up where they left off.  “Have you heard of 2nd degree fun?” I asked.

2nd degree fun is a term I learned from my hike last year. 1st degree fun is instantaneous. Riding a roller coaster, going to a petting zoo, opening a gift–these are examples of 1st degree fun. 2nd degree fun is something you work at, but upon completion feels wonderful, leaving one feeling accomplished and happy, ecstatic even. Examples of this are climbing a mountain to reach the top and gain amazing views otherwise unattainable. Or completing a really big mile day and pulling off your shoes and–oh my–that feeling of reclining! I have been asked how I manage to sleep on my thin z-rest sleeping pad, and the answer is: If I put in enough miles, this is never a problem. Hiking is full of 2nd degree fun. As I packed up to leave they asked my name and called me “the real deal”. That’s sweet, I thought. I hope they keep at it.

The days are so beautifully long this time of year. I hiked into the night and did not need to utilize my headlamp until after 9 pm. I walked by the moonlight for as long as I could, stumbling over the rocks and roots just a tad more than normal. I only travelled about three miles in darkness. I enjoy night hiking. It is when the small critters creep or crawl or hop their way along the trail. I gave myself a fright once or twice when my sleeping pad made a hissing sound as it brushed against nearby trees. It sounded as would an aggressive snake. I have yet to see a snake or a bear, but I am hopeful. The black bears are actually black here, not brown like those out West. At one point on trail I did here some rustling in the distance. It sounded heavy and as if it walked on all fours. I paused and surveyed my surroundings, but the trees were to thick and obstructed my view.

There is a chill in the air. The wind is growing stronger. I will slip into my down sleeping bag with the excitement of what’s to come. The beauty of pondering this: the possibilities are endless!

Appalachian Trail: Mile 69.3

I am .5 miles West of the trail at Top of Georgia Hostel near the town of Hiawassee. It was only a 10.5 mile hike here from where I camped last night. 10 trail miles plus a .5 mile walk from the trail to the hostel to gain shower access (it had been 8 days!), laundry, and a shuttle to and from town for supplies. Cutting mileage goals a bit short to be here seemed justifiable. That, and, well my feet just did not want to move anymore. The blisters and soreness have arrived!

Most of todays hike was spent with a fellow thru-hiker who I had met in passing yesterday. Though I value time spent on trail alone, hiking with a friend never fails to make the miles fly by. We exchanged a brief synopsis of our lives and made small talk about trail life and relationships and travel and the weather and sore feet.

I saw my first snake of the trail today! Not sure what type it was, but it sure was long.

This area of Georgia is especially beauitiful. I will be in North Carolina soon! It is only 9 miles away. Looking forward to crossing that border! Also: thunderstorms. They are in the making. Should be seeing plenty of percipitation tomorrow. This time, I’m ready for it!

Appalachian Trail: Mile 86.0; 4752 ft.; 5/12/17; 2053

Hello, North Carolina! Oh. How lovely it is to reach another state (though it becomes exceptionally apparent how arbitrary borders are when you cross them in the wilderness).

Today was a wonderful day! I caught the 9am shuttle back to the trail and got going at about 9:30 this morning. Rain and thunderstorms were in the forecast for today and tomorrow. This time, I was prepared. I was wearing a rain jacket and Frogtog pants and had my pack cover on. I should have known I would be too hot. Not 10 minutes into my hike I had to stop and remove them. There was no sign of rain at that point and it had become far too warm beneath the unbreathable material. The afternoon actually proved to be fairly sunny.

There was quite a bit of climbing today. Once in a while there was a clearing that allowed for lovely views.

This snake was on the trail after a stream crossing:

I passed through many beautiful tunnels of trees.

At about 5pm the sky grew darker and there were frequent claps of thunder. It began to sprinkle. I noticed that many people had set up camp for the night. I dawned my rain gear and pressed on.  I am very pleased with my decision. The trail became very rocky, running along the ridge of the mountain. It would have been slightly dangerous in the rain. The rain did not come again, save for two tiny spurts, in increments no longer than 30 seconds. I have set up camp six miles north of where I first heard thunder. It is still not raining. I have set up my tent nonetheless. The sky is heavy. It could rain at any moment.


I am distracted by a howling, then a cackle and growl. Is it a wolf? A coyote? I am not so certain if there are wolves here. I know they have all vanished from California. It is quite loud. It is near. It sounded as though it was fighting, or in pain. I feel so lucky to be amongst the wild things. Now, silence again.

My legs are very sore. It feels wonderful. I am gaining momentum. I feel stronger and more motivated. This is when the fun truly begins!

Appalachian Trail: Mile 106.6; 3858 ft

The sun is setting in the distance. I am cowboy camping tonight. Though it was cloudy and rained a bit this afternoon, and thunderstormed yesterday — I’ll take my chances.  The sky looks clear to me. I have selected a spot above a spring. The trail continues along the ridgeline. I climbed above the trail and was able to find a spot just level enough for me to sleep comfortably. It will be quite a steep climb back down…but I’ll deal with that in the morning.  I came 20.6 miles today. I am pleased with this. My body is sore. My legs feature more of a dull noodley sensation, while my feet are sort of electric — like the soreness is having a dance party deep in the tissue. Oddly enough, I enjoy this too. I know tomorrow my body will be able to endure more than today. I always wake up fresh and ready. The body is an amazing machine.

I climbed Albert mountain today. There was a maintained tower on top. The view was fantastic. It was still a bit cloudy, but the rolling hills were a sight to behold.


Other than the very steep and rocky climb to the top of Albert, North Carolina has proven an easier

Something just dropped on to my sleeping bag. It sounded like a rain drop. There is no moisture though. It must have been something else. Oh my. If it starts raining in the middle of the night, I will be exposed without any place to set up my tent. Part of me likes the excitement of taking this risk. Part of me even enjoys the potential struggle (I have been there before). I suppose if it only sprinkles I can try to just lay my tent over the top of me (I have done this once before as well.)

There was a shelter just passed Albert mountain. I believe most of the hikers stopped there to camp for the night, so there wasn’t any traffic on the trail moving forward. As I turned a bend I saw a creature hurry down the trail. It seemed dog-like with a bushy tail, but it’s coloring was like that of a fox. Are there foxes out here? Nonetheless, it filled me with excitement.  Thus far, North Carolina has been absolutely beautiful!

Appalachian Trail: Mile 121.9; 4400 ft; 5/14/17

I fell into a stream this morning. As I was attempting to cross I thought: wouldn’t it be silly if I fell in. Three seconds later the log rolled and I landed flat on my bum. Luckily the only danger in this was embarrassment. There were no witnesses. Due to the wsrm weather, I suffered a wet bottom half for only a short while. It was spectacularly beautiful and sunny here in the Nantahala National Forest!

There were some good climbs today. Lots of roots and rocks on trail. I stopped at a spring where three older gentlemen where taking rest. They were from Virginia. They were section hiking. They said that the hunters that woke me early one morning just before the NC border may have been hunting turkeys. They also said that it most certainly could have been a fox I spotted yesterday, and that they were quite common in these parts. At this, I was terribly pleased!

I thought the trail seemed more crowded than usual today.  I then remembered it was the weekend. A beautiful one at that. I used to dislike the weekends due to this. I have now learned to enjoy the company of the day hikers. They are usually locals, often jubilant and friendly, and a great insight into the culture. They are often familiar with the land and and I am usually full of questions.

There was another tower today. This one made of stone. It offered great views, as did the last.

North Carolina has such a wide variety of color and texture and size that fill it’s forests. It is almost tropical. I am enchanted.

A happy mothers day to momma bird and all the amazing moms and grandmas and nanas out there! Much respect. 

Appalachian Trail Mile 137.1; Nantahala Outdoor Center

It is the morning of the May 16th. I am sitting on the wooden deck of the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) BBQ + Brew, facing the river. It is 7:22 in the morning. Everything is closed now. I have the deck, the power outlets, and the wifi all to myself.

I did not mean to still be here. I hiked in yesterday evening. The NOC is right on trail. The AT cuts right through it. I thought I would take advantage of this and order a package of some supplementary food and have it shipped here in hopes of saving time. Ha. They did not have my package. According to the tracking information, It was signed for by one of their staff members. “You will have to check with shipping and receiving”, Dan said. “They are closed now, but will open up at eight tomorrow”.

So there went my plans of continuing on. I had travelled 15 miles to get here, my unofficial minimum, so I was not too terribly heartbroken. Now it was a matter of where to sleep. I am on a very tight budget and did not want to spend the 22 dollars for a bed. I was told there was an unofficial campsite across the railroad tracks and down a “ways”. It was off of NOC property, so no one would bother me. Alright, I thought. So I set off. I walked a bit and wound up following the river. It called to me. I had a feeling I was not heading the correct way, but it was beautiful. After a short while (I don’t have much of a tolerance for more than .5 mile of non-trail walking), I turned back. I spotted Jo and Sean. We had been leapfrogging on trail for the past 50 miles or so. I was very pleased to see them. I had not seen any other hikers here, and I like to when I am in town-esque environments. It is comforting and encouraging. They are very kind and make for great company. I asked if they were pressing on. They said they were not certain. They were up for searching for this mystery campsite. We did not find it. What we did find was a set of wooden stairs leading up along a hill to a small green space with a wooden deck built around an enourmous, proud and beautiful tree. The hill had an amazingly lush and green view of the mountain we had just hiked from. It just felt right. Jo and Sean slept on the deck, I slept on the edge of the hill. I woke with the sun, and here I am…waiting for shipping and receiving to open.

I had a great hike yesterday. There was another tower–Wesser Bald– immediately following the climb from Tellico Gap, another amazing view.

There was this enticing sign along the way:

I decided to make the side hike. It was steep, but quick. This was my reward:

Now, to hunt down my package. Wish me luck!

Appalachian Trail Mile 153.0; Brown Fork Gap (water!)

Oh. What a day. What a very long day. I sit here on my sleeping mat just to the left of the trail, opposite the blue blazed tree signifying water. It is 11:13 pm. I am cowboy camping. Hanging out with the bugs. Loads of them. They like the glow of my headlamp.

I tracked down my package this morning. Turns out the outfitter had it all along. A problem with the label was all. It simply said: please hold for thru-hiker “B”. I got it. That’s all that counts.

I started very late, however–around 11:30 this morning. The climb was difficult, the sun hot, and the air moist. I was perspiring to say the least.

As I was hiking I heard a chirping noise. Then noticed a very tiny creature on trail.

It looks like it could be a mouse, but I believe it to be a baby squirrel. I found one exactly like it — after its supposed fall from an apple tree — on Orcas Island, WA a couple of years back. I fed it sugar water and contacted a local animal rehabilitation group who came to collect it and see to its health and future well being. Though heartbreaking, there was nothing I could do for this little one. I scooped it up with two pieces of tree bark and set it to the side of the trail, hoping its mother will come back for it. Here’s hoping.

The first water source was four miles out. It was beautiful. Small rivulets of water free falling from the outcroppings of stone and moss. It tasted divine.

I drank one liter and a half and took one liter to go. The next water was only in six miles.

After the continued climbing and profuse sweating I developed, well, a chafing problem. This problem only became worse with each step. I decided I would allow myself to stop at the coming water source and set up camp for the night. It was passed 6 pm anyhow. I could make up the miles tomorrow. “Good evening” a man stated as he heard me coming up the trail. There were three of them. Two perched on logs and one swaying in a hammock. “Hi”, I mustered, all the while minimizing eye contact. I was not feeling social. The next water was in just 2.5 miles. I told myself I could manage and pressed on. The source was listed as being .3 miles off of the trail. I could not find it. I backed tracked and moved forward once more. Still, nothing. It was approaching 9 pm. The next water was in another 2.5 miles. A blue blazed trail, this time. I couldn’t miss it. I drank the last of my liter. I had no choice but to keep going. A half of a mile in to it I ran in to Jo and Sean who had set up camp. They offered me two cups of water. I was so grateful. It was a climb. Truly, a climb. All I could think of was water. An all consuming lust for water. My lips felt like they were shriveled like dried fruit, my tongue was parched. It was difficult to swallow. Though, one does tend to get dramatic when thirsty and waterless, I knew all would be fine…as long as I could find the source. Each step was so slow. I stopped many times. Just standing there, bent over my poles for 10 seconds reprieve. At last I came to a tree with a blue blaze. Oh, thank goodness!

I dropped my pack to the left of the trail and headed down the side trail carrying a nalgene, a smart water bottle, and my two liter bladder–collecting four liters in total. The spring was flowing well. I was not pleased with it otherwise.  I determined it best to end my filterless streak at this source.

The hike itself was beautiful. Especially in the section of the illusive water source, near Stecoah Gap.

What an unusually dry stretch! I’m glad I am settled and watered.

I hear a tree creaking in the wind.

I just spotted an uncomfortably large spider on my sleeping bag (poisonous?). I made my bag do the wave, launching him off. I do hope he does not care to return.

My noodles are probably ready for consumption.

Until next time.

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.