I’m here at the Fontana Lodge. The weather is wet and dreary with a high chance of drearier. Discretion being the better part of valor, I pulled the plug on one more night. Get the cold better, let the various bumps and bruises heal up, and head into the Smokes when the lightning and thunder have passed—on April 1, a date of great personal significance.
Fontana Village is kind of cool, in a high-priced resorty kind of way. It’s barren now; the ice cream shop and pool are closed for the season. Sort of like the Overlook Hotel. For the most part, the walking dead in the desolate corridors are hikers. Just us and the massive boar heads on the walls. In general, the boars look happier.
So here’s the latest edition of As the Trail Turns. Slow-But-Sure and Because-of-Her are here. They were the fabulous couple from the Aquone Hostel who mailed my package for me. They were in a shelter…oh… three nights ago now? Had to be the night after the NOC. In this weather, people cram into those shelters like sardines. The sleeping bags are crushed together, ten people in a space built for six—honestly, the intimacy level is higher than in some marriages. Everybody snores, everybody farts, mice run roughshod over your gear, not to mention your face. So far, I’ve avoided sleeping in a shelter.
Anyway, three nights ago, this girl woke up in the middle of the night in the shelter puking her guts out. Turns out it was Risk-It, my roommate for the second night in the NOC. Her hiking partner took excellent care of her, and apparently they were heading back into the NOC to recover.
Risk-It started with two other hikers One quit after the Approach Trail, and the other quit at Neels. She said she’s been very fortunate to find a new group of great people. Get better soon, Risk-It!
So. This isn’t the first I’ve heard of this hiker plague that’s sweeping North Carolina. At Cody Gap I met Backtrack and Two Sticks. Backtrack got his name from all the back and forth he’s been doing, including helping two young hikers, one of whom is named Davy Crockett. Their gear was woefully inadequate for the weather; he got them into Atlanta to get other stuff. Davy Crockett and his partner were in the Wayah Bald shelter with me the night my tent flooded.
Backtrack had a bout earlier with the puke plague. He told me about it at Cody Gap. He was very sick, and said a bunch of hikers have had it.
Backtrack is here at the Lodge.
Also here at the Lodge are Blackhawk and PopPop. PopPop is 67 and this is his second thru. He’s talking about heading into the Smokes tomorrow, but Blackhawk Bob (who was a military pilot for 22 years or so and actually carries a humidor full of cigars) is probably going to convince him to stay one extra night. Bob sounds worse than I do, with the cold.
The Postman is here. He has a scab on his cheekbone. He took a bad spill and landed on rocks. He says he thinks he knocked himself out for a few minutes. Still hiking, though! He’s heading into the Smokes tomorrow morning.
I’m lounging in the fabulous resort laundromat in nothing but a puffy jacket and puffy pants. Even my socks are in the wash.
There aren’t any leads here, but everybody’s a character actor. (Below, that’s Bud/Because-of-Her smoking a stogey outside the laundromat.)
Just another day in the moving circus.