Saturday, January 16, 2016

AT - NOC to Fontana Dam

Day One: 2.5                                                    Outcasts Total Miles: 1921.03
NOC to Campsite before Grassy Gap
Day Two: 8.0
Grassy Gap to Locust Cove Gap
Day Three: 5.5
Locust Cove Gap to Brown Fork Gap Shelter
Day Four: 9.3
Brown Fork Gap Shelter to Campsite Past Walker Gap
Day Five: 3.7
Campsite to Fontana Visitor Center
Total Miles: 29

We got to the trailhead in the afternoon after dropping off a car at the Fontana Dam visitor center. We packed up and started the climb out of the Nantahala Outdoor Center.  We stopped at the campsite that is before Grassy Gap.  There is a large boulder rock wall on one side and a good flowing spring is on the other side of the trail down below.  We had a good night of telling lies around the campfire and listening to the owls talk.

Day Two:
We continued the climb today with some views from the Jump-up. We stopped at the Sassafras Gap shelter for a very cold lunch break and then finished up our climb to Cheoah Bald for some wonderful views. This has been a long drawn out uphill climb. 

We camped at Locust Cove Gap down by the spring to avoid the wind.  Tonight was the coldest night dropping down to the single digits. Even the firewood didn't want to burn.  We got our bellies full and called it an early night.

Day Three:
Today the temps never got up.  We had the steep decent to Stecoah gap where we ate our lunch at the picnic table. The springs here were dry. After that came the long climb to Sweetwater Gap and then the extreme climb before dropping down to Brown Fork Gap shelter.  During the extreme climb Troy came up and said "another life's lessons" and that was all he had to say about that.

We had our first hiker in camp tonight "Emersion" came in right at dark and visited with us around the campfire.  The wind picked up and then climbed to tornatic levels by bed time.  During the night I was wondering if any of us would have tarps left by morning.

Day Four:
We survived the night.  It warmed up today where we were putting on and taking off clothes all day.  Cold side of the mountain and then the warm side and back.  We enjoyed the sunshine during lunch and after crossing the road at Yellow Creek Gap, made the decision to go past Cable Gap Shelter to the next campsite pass Walker Gap.

When we got to Cable Gap there were some day hikers there.  One of which his Dad had a shelter named after him at Amicalola Falls State Park.  We visited with them for a little while and then started the extreme climb to Black Gum Gap.  It seemed like we would never start the climb down to our campsite, but we made it before dark.

That night we had a visitor.  "Emersion" caught back up with us.  He visited until we went to bed and then he headed on to Fontana Dam shelter.

Day Five:
We packed up and got on the trail by 7am.  We were trying to beat the rain, but it started sleeting on us before we headed out.  During the steep decent it turned into rain and set in for the day.  We picked up "Emersion" at the Fontana shelter and gave him a ride back to the NOC.

This part of the AT is the toughest part in the South and we earned it.