Appalachian Trail Journal Day 25

Spence Field Shelter to Fontana Dam Shelter

16.7 miles

The bear was still hanging around the spring this morning, but didn’t cause any problems. I’m sure he would have liked a taste of my Pizza Grits Supreme, but Chef Glenn always cleans his plate.

It was another walk in the park today with gentle descents and level hiking. I accidentally wandered about a half mile down Eagle Creek Trail before I noticed there were no more white blazes.

I stopped at Mollies Ridge Shelter for an early lunch of Bean Bark Stew and Trail Angel Cake with Chocolate Sauce, plus more dried blueberries that Chipper had given me.

With so much bear activity in the area, I hung my pack from the bear cables before hiking down to the spring for water. Once again, I had to clean somebody’s oatmeal out of the pool of water below the pipe.

I reached Lake Fontana early evening, but had to walk another mile on the blacktop road before crossing over the concrete dam. The hard surfaces emitted the heat of the day. While crossing, I spied a Coke machine behind the visitor’s center on the other side. I could already feel the ice cold condensation of the can in my hand, hear the click of the pop-top and the bubbles rushing to the top, and taste the syrupy cola passing over my parched tongue. I assumed the Zombie position, raising my arms out in front of me, and approached the machine saying Cola… Cola… Cola…

What’s this? Out of order? You cruel machine!

The visitor center is made of glass all around and when I leaned my arm against the glass to peak in, I left a big smudge mark. Chef Glenn’s revenge! Nevertheless, I took that as a hint to go into the bathroom around back and wash up.

From the visitor’s center I walked another half mile of pavement to the shelter, which backpackers call the Fontana Dam Hilton because it has a bathhouse nearby. I shared the shelter with some nice folks from Soso, Mississippi- Billy, Sally, and Sally’s dad, Jeff. I had Hawaiian Shrimp & Rice for dinner.

After dinner I headed for the renowned Hilton shower. I didn’t have soap or a towel, but the water pressure was good. There was a hot-air hand dryer between two sinks, so I methodically positioned all my body parts in the path of the hot air until I was dry. I’m glad nobody came in because I would have looked pretty suspicious standing there bare-naked in front of the dryer.

I told Sally and Billy about this enterprise and Sally suggested I change my name to the Bare Naked Chef. While Jeff snored, I talked and laughed with Sally and Billy until we fell asleep. I had met a lot of happy people out on the trail, but this young couple exuded pure joy.

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