Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jeff aka Loner at Fontana Dam

I rec'd another email from my son, Jeff aka Loner. On the anniversary of the first week, he was able to cross the GA/NC line (video here). During the first week he was able  He was able to pick up the two drop boxes I sent.  One for his pack and one for town food or for his bounce box.  He did bounce some of it forward to Hot Springs.  He's passed the dam after two days of rain, but stayed dry at night.  Only one blister so far - no other problems.
 He was able to get into town at Hiawassee and NOC (The Nantahala Outdoor Center) video here, so within the first two weeks there are plenty of towns to stop in to resupply. Thirty miles into the trail after the descent from Blood Mtn. (video here) there's one outfitter at Neels Gap. Most AT All Thru-hikers stop in at Mountain Crossings store and hostel since the trail runs right through the building! Mountain crossings is only place where the trail runs right through the building and the only place on the  2,178-miles of the AT that passes under a roof.

Here thru-hikers can get a backpack shakedown by the highly knowledgeable outfitter staff. They weigh it there then tell you what you need and what you don't need to get your weight down. Some first-timers carry up to 35 lb packs!  They end up throwing a lot it away.  In many of the outfitters and hostels there are boxes or barrels where AT thru hikers can leave the stuff they don't need or want. Hikers who come after them can dig through it and restock. Each year, an average of  9,000 pounds of unnecessary stuff is sent home or left behind in the Mountain Crossings boxes and barrels.
Jeff let them do his backpack shakedown on his prep hike last October so he knew what was going to work this time to get the weight down to 13.5.

After Jeff left Fontana Dam, NC he entered the Smokey Mountains.  He produced a yout tube video of this section on his You Tube site LonerAT2012. Then climbed Clingman's Dome the highest mountain trail on the AT at  6,643 feet, Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. There is a viewing tower at the top with 360 degree views, but I' think it's raining there so Jeff may not get to see this great angle of the Great Smoky Mtns. 
  I think it's around here that AT hikers keep straddling the Eastern Continental Divide circling around and switching back and forth into North Carolina and Tennessee.  And at this point he'd hiked 200 miles.

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