To Fontana Dam and into the Great Smoky Mountains

A change of pace and mode of travel has kept us all on our toes.

We had carried seven days of food into the NOC and only three days of food out so the lighter packs were a welcome weight. The girls also hiked up out of the NOC with a great pace, full bellies from NOC and Fontana Dam in there foresight. Their pace was faster than usual over the 4000 feet elevation gain. The girls enjoyed hiking in a cloud and learned more about what makes a cloud. We slept at the top of Cheoah Bald. Highwinds and downpours made us feel like the tent was going to cave and someone was throwing buckets of water at us. We fared well in the morning and headed out in the rain, and ended the day with beautiful sunshine.

Fontana Dam was a great sight but took us forever to get down to the dam. We met our euro van “Dragonfly” at the visitor center where we had left it about three weeks earlier.

We planned to do the front range of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park so the girls could do the JuniorRanger Packets, experience and gain a feeling and understanding of why it is a National Park. (When I hiked the trail years ago I felt like I missed out on the importance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We will do the same for the girls in the Shenandoah National Park.) So, we slack packed some of the National Park and met up with some fellow thru-hikers and were able to do a little trail magic. This made the girls day! Our second day in the Great Smoky Mountains we took a trail ride, where the girls were able to spend some long-awaited time on horseback. They also completed their Junior Ranger packets and have been working on field guides of 4 to 6 chosen species of the trail and Great Smoky Mountains. We visited a few other miles of the AT in the Smokies, Elkmont campground, the Cades Cove loop and historic sites, some amazing waterfalls and river hikes and views before heading out to drop our van with a cousin in Asheville. Today we head north from the Smoky Mtn National Park boundary.

A few of my favorite quotes…

During a rainy day The Sparkle Machine said with great excitement, “This is living!”

As we reach the top of a bald with amazing views Wild Jay said, “People are missing out!”

Daily, Baby Bunny says, “I need another candy!”

Horsepower is our writer, who daydreams while she waits for us to catch up. I’ll attach one of my favorite of her journal entries.

Author: Jamie “Sunshine”

To awaken to a beautiful dream one day become reality is the day millions of us wait and hope for. Setting goals and pushing ourselves to the limit, we have all challenged ourselves and our systems of life to see our goals in action. In March of 2019, waking a long envisioned dream, our family of 6 will set out on the 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail (AT). The trail covers 14 states and will take 6 months to complete. This dream began over 20 years ago, in 1999 when I set up the Awaking Dreams Fund with the National Brain Injury Association in my brother, Kyle’s name. I raised over $10,000 and set out and completed a thru-hike of the AT. Five years after that my husband, sister and I set out on a thru-paddle of the Connecticut River and raised money for Casa Colinas, a rehabilitation hospital that facilitated outdoor adventures for their patients. My brother, Kyle fought his battle for 20 years and passed away in February of 2017. We will continue to hike in his honor and his name attempting to complete the trail on his birthday. However, this adventure will be of a different caliber, as Chris and I will set out with our four daughters ages 5, 7, 10 &12. I have envisioned this hike since my thru-hike in 1999 when I traveled with a father and his two sons for a few days. The boys were ages 9 & 11. They were adventurous, excited, connected to nature and so curious and educated about the natural world around us. I have long hoped for such an amazing experience for my girls. We have done a great deal of planning, preparing, and talking . . Now is the Time!

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