Fontana Dam Shelter to Sassafras Gap Shelter, 21.9 mi (AT 2048.2)

May 19th, North Carolina

After leaving the shelter this morning the trail followed the lake closely for a while then turned uphill and climbed a series of unnamed peaks and little “gaps” between them.

I walked by the marina but didn’t head down.

It was another nice and rather uneventful morning of hiking. A while after heading uphill from Lake Fontana, the trail merged briefly with the Benton MacKaye trail—named for the man who envisioned and advocated for the Appalachian Trail in the early 1900s. 

Eventually I passed an old log cabin style shelter where a guy called ChooChoo was sitting. He is hiking from Georgia to Virginia, but what I found interesting was he said he is a conductor on the fast trains in Germany, though he had an American accent. He asked some questions about the upcoming trail so I didn’t have a chance to ask him more about it. 

The trail went up and down, but mostly up today. The final peak was Chetoah Bald. There was a nice view and I might have camped up there for the sunset, but there was no water source nearby. 

So I just continued down the other side for another half hour to Sassafras Gap Shelter. It was close to the trail and had a nice water source. I was surprised to be the only one there.

I did my camp chores and routine while shooing and swatting some little gnat-like bugs (midges?) that follow you around and, if left alone, eventually bite you. So, after dinner I walked away from my hammock, ran back toward it to ditch them, then quickly got in and closed the bug net.

Tomorrow I will pass through the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) where I will pick up my final food resupply until Georgia. I am expecting perhaps 4.5 days from the NOC to Neels Gap. Neels Gap is well into Georgia and only around 30 miles from Springer Mountain—so probably just two more resupply stops to go, including tomorrow’s! 

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