Friday, November 16, 2012

Trail Recap 2 of 27: GA/NC border to Fontana Dam

Bly Gap to Fontana (~84 miles):

General Impression/Theme:  Recommendation to NoBo thru-hikers.  If you can swing it (by lining up a shuttle), I strongly recommend that you consider hiking the leg from Fontana Dam to Springer *Southbound*.  You'll get a broader sampling of the hikers who will be in your 'bubble' as you return to Fontana and head north, maybe a better chance to find compatible souls.

People:  Following on from the general theme above.  This was the time and place where I met the greatest number of memorable people, many of whom I'd meet again up north and/or would follow on Facebook, Trail Journals, etc., and two of whom I met here for the second time already ('Gutsy' and 'Meats').  Just to name a few more:  Smokehawk and Snake Runner (Brandon and Kylie), JK and Navigator (Florida Hikes author and her husband), Drop Out (who would become one of the Parkside Fellowship), the Northbound 2012 Facebook team, Gingersnap (NoBo 2011, who just a short time later appeared on the cover of the March-April 2012 issue of AT Journeys magazine), Johannes and Bomber (both of whom I met at Gingersnap's amazing trail magic station near Rock Gap and then again up north months later), and the thru-hiking-by-day-hikes duo Harry and Leo who I'd meet twice more up north.

Favorite Supply Point:  The general store at the N.O.C. - excellent beer selection in a part of the state that has a lot of dry counties, and hiker rest rooms open 24 hours.

Worst Memory:  One of the worst looking shelters on the trail is Big Spring Gap Shelter near Albert Mountain (great view from the fire tower there, though), built of particle board, leaning, dilapidated. 

Best Day Hike:  I'll mention two:  My favorite spot was Siler Bald - a quarter mile side trip off the trail, but definitely worth it.  Go up and back from Wayah Gap (NC 1310) for a fairly short hike.  Great views including across to Wayah Bald.  The other great destination is Cheoah Bald.  Start at Stecoah Gap.

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