Today we woke to a surprising two inches of snow on the ground and trees. We knew that hiking in it would delay us, but we opted for the long 15.2 mile day to the Cable Gap shelter anyway. That would leave us only 6.6 miles tomorrow morning to the Fontana Dam shelter, where we’ll drop our gear and then shuttle from NC 28 to Fontana Village for food resupplies.
We packed gear and hit the trail at 9:00, hiking up 600 feet in the snow. It was hard having to watch your step as well as keep snow from the branches off of your head and neck. We were able to maintain our 30 minute miles, which is really my pace.
There were a few slips and slides but no full falls. We crossed many rocks and passed a few hikers. We arrived at NC 143 in Stecoah Gap around 12:30 where we found Bacon Dog chilling and some trail magic — fresh fruit and dried fruit on a picnic table. We treated ourselves and enjoyed the warming sun, then packed up and left fifteen minutes later to finish our full afternoon of hiking.
After passing the trail to Brown Fork shelter, we dropped into Brown Fork Gap and grabbed water and a snack for lunch. We arrived at the Cable Gap shelter at 17:30 to find it empty. Those who’d arrived earlier clearly had decided to push on the 6.6 more miles to Fontana Dam, which meant that some were doing more than 21 miles today.
We set up our tent and hammock to dry them out from yesterday morning, and Bennett started dinner of a Pasta Side. We also had several cheese quesadillas over the stove. The fuel is running low, so more will need to be purchased at Fontana Village tomorrow. I was able to dry wet clothes from yesterday on a line.
There are now nine in the camp, with Bacon Dog and his three buddies in the small shelter. Bennett and I have turned in early at 20:00, as this was a long day. They have a fire going in front if the shelter, but we are being anti-social tonight.