Up, up and.. No freaking way

North Carolina – a better place to be they say.  Definitely better views than Georgia so far.  With those beautiful views are usually harder climbs.  I should have known that North Carolina was going to be more tough when as soon as you cross the border they welcome you with a straight climb up an over 4000 ft mountain.

Since in North Carolina we have been hiking in snow,  rain,  colder Temps then hot Temps- all making for some challenging climbs up some of these higher mountains.  We spent our zero day in Franklin,  NC.  We enjoyed some brews at the Lazy Hiker Brewery,  had some burgers,  and spent $1 each to become members of night club so we could do karaoke with the bonus of getting a free appetizer.  Will we go there again? Probably not but worth the dollar.  We did get our group up to sing The Proclaimers,  “I wanna be (I would walk 500 miles)”…fitting for a bunch of thru hikers.

We received some awesome trail magic from boy scout troop 5 from Jasper, TN.  The troop was really well mannered,  and the food was delicious too.  They had some experience hiking and shared some of their stories.  Skye stalker even got a hot dog. 

Our miles have not been the amount we had initially wanted due to uncomfortable hiking temps , and tougher terrain.  We had some tough nights where we are short on water,  but must set up camp due to rain and nightfall,  and have nothing but snacks and candy for dinner. 

Initially we were upset (maybe just me) that we weren’t doing the 15+ miles a day we thought we would be at right now.  Instead of the 15+ miles,  we have been doing 8-12 miles still.  However,  we keep reminding ourselves it’s not about the miles but the smiles. 

We have been playing “leap frog”  on the trail with a bunch of great people. We have come across a few other trail dogs.  One of Skye’s favorites is Shenny,  short for Shenandoah.  We had initially started hiking with a good group of people who we called the culture club.  They’re a little bit faster than us so we haven’t seen them in a week or so.  Right now  we have been hiking with a few other couples- Two Step & James, The Game Warden &  Jason,  and of course me,  Snorlax and Skye Stalker.  So far we have been calling us the couple’s therapy group (subject to change).

We stayed in a shelter for the first time the other night.  Snorlax and Burley (who has been giving out earplugs to people at shelters) were having an unintentional game of Marco Polo snoring edition that night.  People are now wondering if Snorlax really deserves that name after Burley’s performance.  I was almost thinking there was a bear nearby. Prior to settling in we were giggling like little kids at a sleepover when our parents are asking us to keep it down.

While in Franklin, NC we did buy a new mini Sawyer and trashed our Coghlans water pump.   Not even a full day back on the trail after town the new mini Sawyer broke.   We had contacted Sawyer and no one got back to us.  When we passed by Nantahala outdoor center (NOC),  Howard there,  was nice enough to call Sawyer,  take care of the whole issue and replaced our broken one for us (thank you Howard!!).  When we were there we also indulged in some beers and pizza.  Snorlax decided to have more beers than some of us,  as well as carry extra beers in his pack (putting him over 35lbs) to have at the mountain.  This caused him to slow down but he was accusing me to be “like lightening” while I like to believe I’ve been going the same speed the whole time and his perception was off.  I was excited to drop some weight off my pack but donating  some things I don’t necessarily need. 

Instead of a zero day,  we ended up having a “nero”  or “hero”  day in Fontana.  At the AT crossing in Fontana Dam is where we had last hiked to prior to town where they would pick us up there by shuttle the next day.   We did hobo style camping like we usually do prior to town,  but this time it was in a marina parking lot.  It’d be an understatement if I said I was a little worried we would get arrested.   It did however have a bathroom and running water nearby which was handy.  Snorlax left his only t shirt there but was recently retrieved when we someone else wearing it  ( the man’s trail name is now the Bandit).

While in Fontana we had to get our permit for the smoky’s, resupply for about 6-7 days oppose to the 3-4, and unfortunately give Skye to the kennel because dogs aren’t allowed in the smokys. 

It was an emotional day as Skye Stalker left us for the time in the Smokys. I know she will be fine and have fun but I still wish she was with us to see it all. 

The Fontana Dam Shelter has an amazing view,  a fancy shelter known as the Fontana Hilton.  It even has a shower and flushing toilet.  We are not sure what to expect with all the hype about the Smoky’s but are excited to be continuing our trek on.  North Carolina – a better place to be they say-but who are they to say?  We’ll make up our own minds along the way.  Until then-happy trails to you!

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