There is something so gloriously amazing about being able to get out of a real bed in the morning, place your bare feet on the warm floor, and walk to a bathroom to use a REAL toilet.  The morning following a night inside is always wonderful.  No tents to pack, or sleeping bags to stuff.  That was this morning, and I knew it was going to be a great day!

Lonnie, the owner of Stecoah Wolf Creek Hostel, drove us back to the trailhead.  

He was such a hospitable man.  There is something so truly different about southern hospitality.  There is a warmth and openness here, that is not often experienced in the north.  We arrived at Stecoah Gap, where there were several people setting up tents and preparing for a Trail Magic throw down!  A man was celebrating his birthday, and he chose to do so by gathering all of his friends to give warm food to hungry hikers.  That sounds like a great plan for my 40th birthday next year… did I really just say that?  Wow, I am OLD!  And if not old for real, my joints are telling me that I am not as young as I once was.

The weather was beautiful, the complete opposite of the misery of a couple of nights ago… or rather all week.  The weather has been pretty horrible this week, but finally a beautiful brisk spring morning dawned and we set out once again.


The first climb of the day, was a trail known to locals as Jacobs Ladder.  HARD!!!  I think it was Lonnie who told Ryan that trail gained 150 ft of elevation every 10th of a mile, for nearly a mile.  We had to take short breaks every so often, and take it slow, but we all made it.  


The whole day was filled with all sorts of beautiful views, and after a great nights sleep, and warm food… we were ready to roll.  Roll we did!  Laughing, singing, hiking, dancing, eating… all around it was a fantastic day.  

We met some interesting people along the way, and had some great conversations with strangers.  We learned about Aztec bars from a gal who is from here in NC, we met a man who was in 12 years of ministry who is burnt out, another man who sells church insurance policies who hopes to see transformation in the church.  We met a man who is out here section hiking before he heads back to school for his last year, he hopes to finish after he graduates.  We’ve run into familiar faces, and caught up with how their hikes are going.  If someone has forgotten our names, they always remember Belles name!  (the apostrophe key on our keyboard is broken). 


Sometimes the trail is well defined, other times we have to trust the white blazes and hike over boulders.  I’m not particularly fond of the rocks, as I have rolled both ankles in the past couple of days.  Seriously, ouch! Everyone is OK though, including me, and we are gonna keep on keeping on. 

The sunset over Fontana Dam was stunning, and pictures could not begin to capture its beauty.


We came off the trail, having really no idea where we were going to stay.  It was dark and we really didn’t want to keep hiking up to the Shelter.  We happened to walk right into a little area where people can put in and take out their boats.  There was a building with bathrooms and a lit porch area, so we decided to make dinner there.  It was awesome to be able to clean the dishes in the sink.  We searched for “NO CAMPING” signs and never found one, so we decided to pitch our tents in a nearby field.  By 9:15, everyone was toasty and warm, falling fast to sleep. 

We completed 14.5 miles.  

A friend of ours told us, “Never quit on a bad day!”  This little piece of advice encouraged us to adjust and overcome, and wait for another good day.  Why in the world would we quit on a day like today?  We wouldn’t, which is the point of the advice!

Ryan and I talked for a good long while about how that saying applies so much to life in general.  In marriage, with work, with friends, on life… NEVER QUIT ON A BAD DAY!  (An entire post on this topic to come soon.)

This morning we are at Fontana Dam Village, tomorrow we head into the Smokies!

Happy Trails.

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