Today we hiked just 7.1 miles down to Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the Eastern US. Most of the way we had views of the reservoir through the trees.
Although the higher elevations are still a little bare, spring is well underway in the lower elevations: dogwoods, may apples, and trilliums, among others. I’m used to white trilliums but there are also lots of red ones here.
About a mile before we reached the dam is the last shelter before hitting the Smokies. It is one of the largest shelters on the trail, sleeping 20, complete with a huge balcony, flushing toilets and showers! It is called the Fontana Hilton. We didn’t stay here but I took a photo as we passed.
Just after the Hilton we ran into some trail magic: sandwiches, sodas, chips and candy! It was perfect timing because we ran out of snacks.
From there it was under a mile on the road to the visitors center where we caught a shuttle to the lodge. What an upgrade from the Budget Inn! We are a huge lunch at the grill, enjoyed a local beer, and resupplied at the general store. Tomorrow we enter the national park. Our next resupply will be halfway through in Gatlinburg/Knoxville for a Zero day on Thursday, getting back on trail on Friday. We caught up with a few people who have been ahead of us got a few days, so tomorrow night should be a big group at the first shelter in the Smokies.