Day 3: Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Campsite 89 on Eagles Creek Trail to Fontana Dam.

It was another solid night of sleep for me. Scott said that he heard our late night visitor get up and hike out of camp at 0600 but I never heard a thing. I think I finally got moving about 0700 which meant that I was going to have to pull on a pair of still very wet socks and boots. It’s not that I didn’t have dry socks. But…….almost immediately we were going to cross that creek three more times so why drench the only dry socks I had. The pulling on of the socks was……..well…….exhilarating. I downed another Ziplock bag of shredded wheat and tore down my tent. The end of today’s hike promised a reunion with my truck and nice cloth seats….not to mention a real meal at the grill at Fontana Village. A goal worth pursuing.

Yanni of the Go Pro

There are times when you feel the need to have a new toy and Yanni’s possession of the Go Pro seemed to fit the bill. He had been filming the hike with what seemed to be very little effort especially when crossing the stream. As an added benefit he has extremely wavy dark thick hair which often provided entertainment especially when parted with the straps of his Go Pro. I wish you could see some of the pictures of his hair that he possesses but he has them hidden away on his I-Phone. In any event my plan was to film Scott and he on the first crossing which I did and posted a few days ago. It was time for us to take our squishing feet/socks/boots and hike toward Fontana Lake which was by now only about 1 1/2 miles away.

Squishing Toward Fontana

Scott lead the way followed by Yanni as we worked our refreshed but wet feet toward our ultimate goal. We all felt pretty good about the day. By then we were very used to crossing the stream and the fact that we had witnessed a girl of about 4 years camping with her parents the day before revealed to us that we were not quite so macho as we hoped. I don’t know how she got there unless it was riding someone’s shoulders but the fact remained that she was there and our crossing feats suddenly did not look so daunting.

The Final Crossing of Eagle Creek

I can’t get the video I took to load on WordPress but you have already seen it so suffice it to say that we crossed a deeper Eagle Creek three more times uneventfully. Scott and Yanni tossed their forest provided hiking sticks away as we tackled what I had described as a relatively flat Lakeshore Trail toward Fontana. Well I lied…or at the very minimum…had a bad memory. It was anything but flat. Luckily both Scott and Yanni have been raised well and in spite of the poor input they refrained from protesting or breaking things. I kept my distance and they continued to be polite and somewhat friendly toward me. I was relieved that they had the ability to be kind to their elders. This bridge was the last contact we had with Eagle Creek. Soon after it turned into intermingling with the waters of Fontana Lake.

The Once Rapid Eagle Creek

Both Scott and Yanni had marveled about the multiple change in landscape throughout the hike. The trees had changed often with elevation as had the composition of rock and roots. Now we found ourselves in the flattened valley leading to the lake’s edge. The morning air was pure and crisp. The silence was inviting. We hiked quietly…each absorbed in our thoughts.

Yanni Investigates a Rock Dam

We soon arrived at Campsite # 90 which was adjacent to another small stream which was dumping into Fontana Lake. Yanni got a couple of close up pictures while…..

Scott Tests the Log Crossing

Scott moved on ahead and crossed the single log with a handrail. We were now about to hike Lakeshore Trail which would lead back to an intersection point with the Appalachian Trail.

Yanni Follows

He was followed by Yanni and then I brought up the rear.

Lakeshore Trail

We began what I thought would be a relatively flat trail toward the Dam. I was rather incorrect about that assessment. No…I was totally incorrect about it. I found myself breathing rather hard several times. Instead of following along the edge of Fontana Lake we found ourselves wandering well away from it. Yanni once again passed on the uphills and left us in his dust. Scott led on the downhills. I stayed out of the way.

A Last Rest for a Snack

Once we managed to climb to one of the peaks we took a break in order to have a light snack. Yanni mentioned a hamburger. That sounded good to me. We had earned it. We soon began encountering day hikers who had ventured this far from the Dam. They all asked what there was to see….we had to tell them unless they were ready to tackle Eagle Creek they were only going to see forest…no lake. Most turned around and one group actually beat us to the restaurant.

Fontana Dam

The hike across Fontana Dam is always interesting. It’s a long ways down and with a little bit of fuzzy thinking you can imagine that you are Robert Redford or…if you’re not so lucky Nick Nolte playing the lead roles in “A Walk in the Woods.” We worked our way across to the closed visitor’s center and encountered a through hiker with his gear spread all over the concrete allowing it to dry.

Trail’s End

His name was Overboard and he had to make it to Erwin, Tennessee to complete his through hike. Also there was a country boy from Georgia who was also hiking…he didn’t have a trail name…just AJ. Overboard was from Chicago. They talked about hearing voices while out there hiking alone. Really? I don’t remember that. I remember hearing my stomach growling for food once and awhile…but never voices. Scott, Yanni and I emptied our packs of our remaining food and made two very happy hikers. We then said goodbye to Overboard and gave AJ a ride back to the Marina.

The three of us had completed 36.1 miles and it was time for real food. The hamburger became a reality for Yanni and I. Scott had a Reuben sandwich. All was washed down with a beer and water. Things were back to normal.

Back at the Bed and Breakfast we were going to make use of the outdoor fire pit and hot tub. It was a little too early so we layed down for a moment just to pass the time. I woke up 12 hours later to the smell of breakfast cooking. The hike had been a resounding success. The hot tub will have to wait until next time.

More importantly I now know of two sets of parents who can be extremely proud of what their sons have become. They both can share a trail with me any time!!! Hike on!

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