Articles, Blog

Appalachian Trail Section Hike ; Fontana Dam to New Found Gap, Great Smokey Mountains National Park


hey y’all Ramdino here coming at you
from where am i well we are own somewhere near the north clown of
Tennessee state line if you don’t know by looking behind me know where I’m at
well you’re gonna figure it out here in a little while so stick around I am getting ready to head into the
Smokies on the southern section of the smoke Great Smoky Mountains National
Park and I am currently on Fontana Dam with a partner of mine
trail name is uncle sy so the Fontana Lake here is that full pond spillways
are wide open two of them anyways that’s half of them but anyhow we’re getting
ready to do the climb out up to Molly’s Ridge shelter so we’ll show you what’s
going on all right so as is usual we’re 30 minutes into a hike once we got off
the blacktop bear to damn hit the barricade and the trail starts in
earnest this is what it looks like probably looks flat to you but it ain’t
so it’ll be a uphill grind for from the blacktop I think sitting 9.9 been uphill
grind all the way to moderate pretty day camp right now probably 70 ish maybe not
quite there probably yeah something like that but anyway the tents not supposed
to get much above a 78 we got a Lowe’s or nautical make 58 only about 20-30
percent chance of rain whole weekend’s should have some fantastic views stayed
at the Hilton last night Fontana Hilton shelter there the
charting station is still broke but water still good bathrooms need some
maintenance put the ones down at the dam or maintained regularly and it says the
showers if you’ve got to take shower utilize the
facilities particularly in the sit-down mode then the dam is point six away from
the shelter it’d be your most hygienic bit otherwise austere shelter is a
shower in the bathroom couple chaps in there last night young guys and they
were doing about 65 miles on the section like they’ve come from the knock and so
we’re taking a zero before they went to the Smokies hello what you do with zero
I think you said they were going to go the marina in a kayak or something
anyway that’s pretty much house band did here some ice last night my local sighs
look it’s a little on the concerned side and he sees a snake so a little baby
snake I don’t what kind of was was non poisonous but had them like a banded
kingsnake but the bands were in bands they were in spots
so look it up find out what it was but I won’t be able to tell you right now I’ll
leave it to get home I’ll look it up leave it down
at the bottom there for you if I figure it out
alright Charlie Mike alright so we are about four miles into the day all
appealed pretty much so far about an hour and a half three tents from the
first water point mile and a half from Chuck stack and three miles to the next
water point which is at the first campgrounds there I think it’s one of
the few campgrounds things the only campground in the southern section and
it doesn’t have a shelter edit or a campsite rather so they’re gonna break
here feeling good sorry for the shake a little shaky just
from a physical workout for me coming up that’s pretty much four miles up the
whole time uncle sigh he’s coming up the trail here
shortly wait on him and see if he needs I’ve got
the sorry squeeze so make sure he doesn’t need any water
he’s got a Nalgene another water bottle so hopefully doesn’t here he comes now
all right with check-in it shut stack stack fire tower is about two to ten one
point 6/10 something like that off of the 80 so they T doesn’t exactly go by
but it was an old fire tower built in the some time around the 1930s it has
not been refurbished so the floor can be pretty dang sketchy it’s one of the
tallest fire towers they’re only 18 and what remains of the old fire wardens
cabin is still there mainly the chimney and the foundation but it really offers
great views the most of the windows are still intact and they’re still operable
so it’s got 360-degree views looking pretty much everywhere
around all throughout the Smokies and back over over fontana lake over the dam
so it’s pretty good place to just go ahead and take a break get up there we
made sure we kept our feet over the main supports I would do the same how are you
but did have a great views everywhere and so it was really good spot to go up
there maybe have a little little bite to eat a little snack just to kind of relax
from the climb up the first climb out so it’s um I don’t know maybe a little half
way better than half way up to the first shelter there at Molly’s Ridge but we
didn’t want to see it just for all the views had a great day
where you could just see long distances and could actually look back and see
Clingmans Dome eventually where we were going so good fart glad we stopped took
the effort your bear country at this point so rather than leave my pack down
at the trailhead where the trail to the tower diverts off of the 80 I would take
my pack with you because this is bear country and it may not be there when you
come back hi so we are continuing on Mars reads we just left the campsite
well I’m just left with at about 45 minutes ago the campsite down there hey
lunch got some water we’ve got about six more miles give or take to Mars Ridge
it’s all up and been tough tough going sure well it’s pretty growed over that
seen any blowdowns to mountain to anything that’s really the first time
not the air seen across the trail what you’ve been good so far we’re gonna
get the miles ready that’s where we’re registered and required to go to buy our
registration get there and see if we want to go to the next one or the next
one there’s like can’t marry the names are all three close together and
whatever we accomplish today because this is only supposed to be like 11
miles it is all uphill but whatever accomplish today will cut
off tomorrow which is right now schedules will be about an 18-mile day
and I’m pretty good up shortly after we get on the trail so we’re gonna see how
I feel we’ll get there make that decision
yeah I miss daylight how I feel check see how party yesterday kind of where
we’re at I’ll let you see a little bit of trail
map without me yapping we did stop at a shuck start our shuck
stacked our for 30 minutes there’s not a sign that direction up there only if
there is the only thing that tells you it’s a trail of course it’s obvious it’s
a trail but then tell you what it is so you have to know that dude good hooks or you will see a double blazed with one
hash over but it’s not blue blazed so you don’t know if that’s supposed to go
up there or not there’s by 10th and mile off the trail since this is fair country
and they’ve had a lot of cautions out really to all the shelters about bears
we elected not to leave our packs down at the base with the trail diverges
splits to go up there those side trailers do that just cause we want our
packs with us talk to a guy he was not from around
these parts cause he talked like this he might be something done and uh yeah he
said he started Davenport gap they don’t trail for seven days and he said that he
had seen Bear Turkey rattlesnake birds and pigs dear
so he’d seen a lot in history I ain’t seen squat but yeah that’s where we’re
at Chuck stack was a great views from up
there had a good clear day I think we could see all the way back to Clingmans
Dome might be the highest mountain here that you can see I couldn’t see the
tower so it may be the wrong mountain peak how it expects these tower just
closest we are but it may not have been here Chuck stack has not been
refurbished so let’s sketchy handrails are missing quite a tall tower well this
sucks no that’s what happens when well did get maintained you just wind up
going around it create the problem great washout area but you know Chuck stack
the floor is in bad shape and I would say if you’re going up that Tower
keep your weight over the supports the main horizontal beams don’t count on
that floor hi let me get off here you see it’s up
head up Molly’s Ridge all right so we got Molly ridges shelter and one person
was there but plenty of daylight and we’ve got concern because our day
tomorrow is 17.8 so I’m almost 18 miles so got a little worried that that may be
quite a bit in the Smokies felt like that’s the best thing we could do it was
to push on to Russell Field shelter even though we don’t have a reservation there
and that’s another three point six down the trail so that would cut that much
off tomorrow and get us back to something more reasonable still had
pretty left in the tank not plenty but some yeah I’m dragging now but we just
decided to go ahead and do that so come in and wrestle field now the trick is
this Russell Field gonna open I do all these updates and I can’t remember if
it’s closed or open I can’t get a wine cutting back then at Molly’s Ridge
determining I do recall when we made reservations that there was one shelter
in the Smokies it was red indicating that it was completely full and I
thought that was odd when there wasn’t much around anywhere else and now I
think I had figured out that the reason it was all red meaning there was new
spots there’s because that shelter was closed when the National Park Service
had it closed on their website so you could make a reservation there and now
I’m second-guessing whether or not that was Russell fields because I might have
looked at that when I was determining how far we’re gonna go the first day
just for grins knowing that nine point whatever it was six I guess the mileage
reads from Fontana Dam is kind of a short day for me and we were starting in
the morning but I kind of counted for the fact that it was up all the way and
a significant up with several thousand feet of elevation gain so I’m starting to think we may should
have stayed back there we’ll see when we get up here I’ll have to make a decision
whether we’re gonna skirt the law or not a risk of course they’ve got it if it’s
closed it’s closed for good reason and here it is and there’s nobody here so it
doesn’t look like it’s clever so sign off for now so we stayed at Russell
Field shelter with a couple of folks a really neat couple they were just hiking
up from Cades Cove and then a through hiker who was actually ending his
thru-hike attempt so it’s pretty neat get to meet folks like that and just you
know like the same things you always talk about gear but you talk about
family this couple were public servants and the lady had been had actually grown
up in China and from a missionary family and fellow he worked for social services
as did the ladies is really good to get to know them and share that and you know
we got done the next morning we’re getting ready to go and they said hey
can we take a picture with y’all so it was kind of neat I mean they didn’t know
who we were other than just our trail names but it was kind of neat too you
know they felt like they had bonded with us enough where they wanted to remember
us as part of their trip and so they took a picture with us so that was that
was cool and you know we did likewise to include them as part of our trip all
right so we are left earlier today about 8:15 ish 8:45 is 8:45 running left
yesterday were left at 9:30 and lined up like I did a video last night wound up
pushing ahead to rustle field shelter instead of miles Reed’s got there stay
there crash for the night and got up this
morning breakfast and we’ve already passed the
next shelter which is Russell was Russell Field night Vince field I
believe and Rocky Top made that climb Thunderhead coming down Thunder head now
so it’s pretty significant climbs so far tough tough climb and this is all rock
coming down north of Thunder head this is what looks like ran into a Ridge
Runner there was some guys up on Rocky Top and he really wasn’t real friendly
and he was concerned with checking their backcountry per man I don’t know if he
didn’t have some lost Cubs we were old looking at what other folks were kind of
young guy had on her jeans with holes all in anyhow he didn’t give us any flak
but start hiking behind us and we were trying to engage him in conversation and
he just wasn’t a friendly title finally he said let me get by you and a foreign
ambassador to the trail a little disappointed in him not being more
friendly I guess seem to be more intent on getting to his next shelter to check
it for trash or Leave No Trace whatever but Dave’s pretty warm even figured it
would be chillier but it’s not but it’s pretty warm day pretty muggy you can
feel a little bit of a breeze blowing down in here but not much so our
destination is solid ball shelter should be a since we cut out cut about four
miles out yesterday by going to the next shelter it’s just staying at Miley’s
Ridge it’s going to be a 18 mile dice and asked them if 40 mile day so that’s
a lot more doable since two shouldn’t have as many long ups and have some down
and flats of course I was looking at Helen gut hooks and looking on the a
walls guide when I was planning it yeah I’m thinking I don’t look so bad looks
like I’m moderate by the time we get past Russell fields Bank famous last
words don’t feel like it’s moderated anyway
gorgeous day join the height well check in with you later all right yeah I think
less than two miles out from Siler ball shelter going to the end of a 14.8 mild
day here in the Smokies like to kill me that’s tough I say this every time I
come out here tubs dive hat home trail but anyway coming in taking this while
we hadn’t use them two and a half three miles per hour
we’re only doing about a mile and half at that course there’s been a lot of ups
a lot of downs ups have been gosh awful like the kind of up that you stick your
hand out and you touching the ground and you’re still standing in yeah should be
there in an hour so I’ll be ready for it tonight let’s tuck it out I don’t feel
like eating all right I’ll see you at the shelter I’ve always heard from
people how particularly through hikers how they say the trail provides you know
whatever you’re needing at the time the trail provides now sometimes that’s
mentally but sometimes it’s also in the physical world
and in this case the trail provided for me I had accidentally left my dirty
water bag at a water source and left hanging in the three turned around didn’t know I got to the next shelter
the guys at that shelter said hey we’re all going we said we’re going to solder
ball they said we’re here I think this dirty water bag blowing for
somebody it’s gonna be at Silas ball I got the solid balled I asked everybody
hey is somebody here missing the dirty water bag nobody said no oh no nobody
said they were and so I’m like okay so I guess I’m just going to pack it out and
do whatever with it well when I went to get water and got into my pouch that I
keep my water in sure enough I had misplaced my dirty water bag so now the
trail provided and I had a dirty water bag that I could use for water so I
thought that was pretty neat for my trail provided story of the trip I think
my favorite time to hike is in the spring because you really have a lot
better views now we did see some views here but you know all the vegetation has
come out and so you don’t get all the views through the woods like you
normally would you you actually have to come out to a place that’s not vegetated
and even at some of the spots at the peaks and the balls that claim to have a
view you really don’t because they’re overgrown up there like here at Rocky
Top and even though Sylar bought in some
places so you know this is a not a lot of great views through here when
everything’s grown up but you know even without having a long distant views you
have some gorgeous spots particularly to get up the morning you look through
these pristine bars that are there just look at the ethereal and then you come
across just for me this is kind of neat like an old sign there with all the
colors behind it and just the way the sun’s coming through and accentuating
all of that and you know this sign looks like it’s just been there for eons but
all the colors and everything we’re just really neat and George seeing that a lot
of different flowers that I had not seen and typically you don’t see in the
summer until you get to these higher elevations and so just you know this is
really really pretty looking at all this really enjoyed seeing that and I don’t
have much of a photographic eye but you see things like this Turks head and it
just um you know you start looking for for other things in there and one of the
scenes that we came across where it looked like the forest was actually
starting to consume itself with you know all the moss and everything was just
starting to eat and decay into all the wood and it was just consuming itself so
we got done with a hike and we got to Newfound Gap and sure enough hadn’t run
into anybody that recognized me or I recognized them until we got to Newfound
Gap then who do I run into but the postman from the serif and hikes Channel
so he’s doing his flip-flop and he was coming through so bow on the Smokies and
we kind of hit it off he recognized me and so it’s really neat I appreciate him
coming up and chatting with me and getting a photo with me and us just
getting a chance to talk about his hike and everything that was neat just to
catch up with him and by now he is probably done
with this sir beau and getting ready he’s probably already hit Springer and
turning around my understanding is he’s going to hang out with his sister in
Atlanta and then go home and get change out his gear and head on out
to do his flip-flop I think going back to Harpers Ferry and heading north to
Katahdin well the hike was great we had a great time on it like I always say
this was a toughest section I’ve done yet but we did enjoy it I’m already
planning for my next section and that’ll be the northern section and get me
through the Smokies hoping to complete all of North Carolina this year but
probably in another month to six weeks I’ll be doing that section of the
Smokies so but we had a good time this is probably the first time I’ve gone
with somebody in a while so enjoyed that with my hiking buddy there uncle sy and
sure it was tough for him too but made it through and everything went great
worked out good on my food supply did better that time this time and so I
think I’ve kind of got that food dial to him well I hope you enjoyed that if
there is anything he got out of this give me a thumbs up hit that subscribe
button and as always appreciate you and we’ll see you out there

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 thoughts on “Appalachian Trail Section Hike ; Fontana Dam to New Found Gap, Great Smokey Mountains National Park

  1. Looks like a good time and quite physically challenging….so so get that, when you said you didnt feel like eating, that hit the nail on the head…been there….was in that tower a couple months ago…thanks for sharing the hike sir….👍👍

  2. The Smokies are no joke. I have been working on hiking all 800 miles in the Park and they can be daunting at times. I have done this section 8 or 9 times, but always North to South. I was in Shuckstack tower last fall, but my sister who was hiking with me was having none of it! I first visited there over 50 years ago.

  3. Hi bubba,
    Another nice video. But worst ever attempt at an Australian accent.
    By the way, if you run out of water, do you drink your own pee? Asking for a friend. And do you carry a Bear Grylls knife?

  4. looking good Rammy…..the smokies had a BEAR take down a jogger I heard….thats one HELL of a climb I see..AT shelters are the best

  5. You are an awesome fellow my friend. I enjoy watching your videos and listening to you explain the hike as you go.

  6. always a pleasure to follow you! good shoot! I'm in kindergarten UTUBE and I enjoyed your video! it gives ideas and tricks! Merci beaucoup mon ami 🌲🌲🌲🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦

  7. I think we hikers have amnesia. We tend to forget just how hard the hike was, so we keep coming back for more!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *