Hiawassee to Fontana

Posted on: Thursday February 15, 2018 Appalachian Trail

This post was written in my sleeping bag at the end of a long day. Please excuse any errors.

hiawassee-to-fontana We leave Haiwassee as the sun comes out. It’s only a few miles to the North Carolina Border, where Bolt and I take photos. It’s too windy to stop for long though, so we climb steeply until we find a spot out of the wind for lunch. Then, it’s up over standing Indian Mountain, to a grove of rhodendrons to camp. I stick my head out from under my tarp and watch the stars, while coyotes yip.

hiawassee-to-fontana I leave before Bolt in the morning, on the long climb up Albert Mountain. His heels are raw and bloody and his knee is bothering him. I know our days hiking together are coming to a close. He catches me at a rock gap shelter, just five miles from Franklin, where I’ve stopped early for the night. hiawassee-to-fontana We make it to Franklin in the rain. The second car to pass picks us up. Bolt chatters to the lady in front, while I pet her sweet dog. In town, I check the forecast. Rain and thunderstorms. I think about hiking in that, shudder a little, and go to the brewery with Bolt instead hiawassee-to-fontana I spend a day in Franklin, jittery on a couch. I just want to hike! But I know I should hike smart, and the CDT has left me with fears deeper than I realized. Then, the weather breaks. I say goodbye to Bolt, who is staying to rest his knee, and catch a shuttle to the trailhead. hiawassee-to-fontana I climb in the clouds, leapfrogging with Mark the dog and Mark’s Mom. I say goodbye to her after Wayah bald, where she is camping. I hike another 5 to Cold Springs shelter and my first night alone on trail. I’m getting better at ignoring the shelter mice: one bops me on the head and I barely wake up to swat at him. hiawassee-to-fontana I pass Santa first thing in the morning and get to check out his sweet hammock set up. Then I drop, almost 4,000 feet to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. I stop in at the outfitter to print my Smokeys permit, and then I have to climb, another 4,000 feet to the ridges above. hiawassee-to-fontana I stop at a shelter 7 miles in. Achilles and Zach are already there, trying to start a fire. A mouse runs across my sleeping pad, then leaves me alone all night hiawassee-to-fontana I say goodbye to the boys, who are only planning on doing 9 miles, and head out. It starts to rain and I unfurl my umbrella, as I cross Cheaya bald. I drop down, but I am tired, so tired. As always, these big climbs leave me drained. I stop at the shelter 15 miles in, a little disappointed, but so sleepy. I remember Thatch telling me that some days on the AT, 16s are harder than 30s. He was so right. hiawassee-to-fontana I’m just getting ready for bed when Achilles and Zack roll up. They did a big day after all! We all pile into the tiny shelter, where the mice harass Zack all night, but leave me and Achilles alone. hiawassee-to-fontana It’s early and I’m messing on my phone, trying not to wake Achilles and Zack. I try to blog a little, but end up accidentally deleting my post. No! If you’re wondering why this entry is a little sparse, that’s why. Frustrated, I make my coffee and hike out the five miles to the highway. It’s another few miles, on a closed highway, to my resupply point, where I’ll see the boys again. From here, I head to the Smokeys. Rain is forecast, and there, on the highest point of the AT, that might mean snow. hiawassee-to-fontana

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Eloise Robbins (Fun Size)

About the Author

Eloise Robbins (Fun Size) is a writer, triple crown thru hiker, and adventurer. She is a lover of the outdoors, hiking, canoeing, and most of all mountains.

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