Left early for the big day into Franklin. After a couple miles I made it to Wayah Bald Observation tower. I was thrilled, I saw two packs on the ground. I dropped my pack and ran to the top. The saw me coming up and remember who I was. With such a bad memory, I had to ask. Things added up, no wonder I forgot. I met this couple for a couple hours way up in the town of Dalton. That’s crazy, it was probably about 1000 miles ago. Real nice couple, I think they were from Germany. Chatted a bit and hit the trail into town. Made it to US 64, perfect timing it was still light out. Tried going to the grocery store but missed the exit, so I ended up at Walmart. That eventually turned out to be the better option. I was able to plug in my phone and eat. Got my food ready for the last time. All my “lasts” were coming to an end, it was quite sad. But the show must go on. Got everything done quick, but I really wanted to charge my phone. So I decided I would sleep in the bathroom at Walmart and wait for my phone to charge. By the time I got going and charged my electronics it was 4 am. Figuring I’d have a small chance a catching a ride that early, but I was anxious. I usually don’t ask people unless it’s a really hard hitch. I asked a lady coming into the store. She hesitated and then said I should ask this sheriff coming in the door. I asked the lady sheriff and she said she couldn’t. I was really bummed about her answer, since there is nothing going on at 4 am. But that’s how it goes. I put on my hitch hiking pack cover and started walking out the door. Ha, then the first girl said she could take me if I showed her my id. Real nice lady after we got to talking on the way to the trail.
Cold crispy morning. The grass crunched every step. Dozen miles later, I came to Fontana Dam. As I poked my head over the edge, it looked a lot bigger than I anticipated. Swung into the bathroom to wash a pair of socks and to dry them off. Met an older guy going north bound. I told him, “Buddy you’re going the wrong way.” He def wasn’t thru hiking, so I wasn’t quite sure what he was doing. Had a solid climb back to the top. Had to keep hopping across streams, tons and tons of water everywhere. Came down to a neat smaller shelter for only six hikers. Made it to Sassafras Gap Shelter and called it a night.
Rough morning, I really didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag. Woke up to frozen socks and shoes. After smashing them into the wall they flexible enough to get on my feet. My shoes were so frozen, I barely got them on. I had no chance of tying the shoelaces, so I packed up Very Very quickly and hit the trail. Putting on my wet clothes and frozen shoes dropped my temp. Power walked to try warming up. Eventually, it helped and I was able to tie my shoelaces. Today was just like yesterday, nothing but walking thru streams. The rain stopped just before I made it to Clingmans Dome (6,643 feet). Clingmans Dome is the highest point on the A.T. With the nice observation tower, I was able to get 360-degree views. The Smokeys have definitely lived up to their hype. I saw a black bear before coming to the shelter. Made it down to a shelter for another cold night. At least the rain stopped, I was able to dry out some socks. If it would have rained all day, I probably would have had to hit up the next town and taken a day off. My feet were just getting tore up. Made some grub fast and hopped in my bag.
Slept like a rock and didn’t want to leave one bit. Washed clothes and dried them before heading out. That made for a late start, but 8 o’clock wasn’t too shabby with everything I accomplished for a morning. Too bad I did get an earlier start because it really effected the rest of the day. By the time I left it started misting again. Lucky Me. I made my ascent to the Smokeys. On the way up it was nothing but walking in the stream. There had been so much water the last couple of days, the trail was a constant stream. The rain made the views minimal again, but the Smokeys were still beautiful. Made it to the top and it was nothing but smooth sailing from there. Still was able to make it 31 miles to Ice Springs Shelter. No sign of anyone in the Smokeys. I wouldn’t blame em, it was quite rough walking in a stream all day. Gathered some water at camp and made food. As I was eating, a mouse jumped up on my food bag and started knowing at the plastic to get to the food. I was irate, this happened while I was sitting just a foot away. I was prepared for when came back a second time. I grabbed my shoe and toasted him. I was still freezing my butt off, I huddled in my sleeping bag till I warmed up. Hopped out of my sleeping bag to smash out the chores before passing out.