Molllies Ridge Shelter

The picture is of the marina at Fontana Dam this morning.

5-11-12
AT miles hiked today: 12.2
Total AT miles hiked: 176.8

The stay at the cabin was great last night, though we all stayed up too late. My night owl tendencies come back every time I'm in civilization. But it's 8:30 pm now, and I'm almost ready for bed. We have another 12 miles planned for tomorrow, and I want to be on the trail before 8:00 am so I can enjoy that cool early morning hiking.

I lucked out today, my first day in the Smokies (well in the park anyway, we were already in the Smokies before we entered the Park). I saw my first snake, it was small and slithered off the trail quickly. Then I saw two deer bounding away. Will See saw a bear cub today, just beyond the turnoff to the Shuckstack Firetower trail. I was up there about 45 minutes after he was, and I didn't see any bears yet. I'm jealous.

The firetower was awesome! I looked down on Fontana Dam and the reservoir behind it and took pictures, but forgot to get any on my phone. The firetower was also old and scary, with a metal frame and old wooden steps that were missing some bolts. I stepped on the edges of the steps, in case the wood wanted to break. The first level of stairs also were missing one of the handrails. I had a death grip on something the whole way up and didn't trust the wood floor in the box up top, so I sat on the upper steps to take pictures. Wow, vertigo! It was awesome.

At some point I realized I had left my whole pack, including my food bag unattended at the base of the tower, free for any bear to take. Oops! And since there was a bear in the area, it was a valid concern. I'll try to bring my food bag with me next time, plus the camera.

It was a hard day, with a late start, lots of miles and a long climb. The 12 miles tomorrow should be easier. I'm sleeping in the shelter again, as you have to in the Smokies. Maybe a bear tomorrow, but just off the trail, not confrontational, kind of like Will See saw today. That is how I would prefer to see a bear, but I really do want to see one.