[at-l] Trip support report
blackwolfe at charter.net
Wed Jul 21 12:33:30 CDT 2010
This last weekend Sam the effervescent hiking dog and I worked support for my spouse CCWayah and her friend Rosaleen in hiking the section from NOC to Fontana Dam.
On the trip out from SE TN our 30 year old car tossed a fan/AC belt. The remaining belts were not enough to provide for full power to the alternator so we arrived at Fontana without ventilation, AC and minimal lighting.
We sacked out in the Fontana Hilton for the night without any problems and I put the girls on the trail at the Lemon Creek crossing in the morning and headed off to the auto parts store in Bryson City for new belts and tools to install them. After we returned to Fontana Dam, Sam and I hiked to Fontana Marina and as we crossed the ditch into the marina parking lot Sam stepped on a sunning black snake, which started striking at him until I distracted it with my trekking pole and got it moving off the trail. We met the girls soon after as they came down into the marina. CCWayah opted to set there with Sam while Rosaleen and I hiked back to the Dam and I got the car and retrieved CCWayah. We bunked at the Fontana Hilton again that night.
Day two, we killed with a run into Bryson City, a quick look at the Great Smokey Mountain RR depot, and the girls dried gear that had gotten soaked the night before and we met up at NOC in the afternoon to plan the next day's hiking. We spent the night in our hammocks just off the trail slightly south of Stecoah Gap. Unfortunately the old Oldsmobile overheated on the long hot climb up to Stecoah Gap. I let the car cool off overnight and in the morning I hiked back and filled the radiator and drove back to NOC checking for signs of problems. None showed up, so I figure that the cooling system was simply inadequate for the heat and grade of the night before.
Day three, the girls plan was to hike south to Sassafras Gap for the night, and as I did not have to do any car fixing Sam and I hiked up to Sassafras Gap from NOC. It was a long hot climb and as it was 11:00 by the time we started the heat bordered on intense. To the best of my knowledge there is but one water source between NOC and Sassafras Gap, which we took advantage of. We were as dry as our water bottle when we arrived at Sassafras Gap but soon were rehydrated. As dusk set in the rain arrived too, so CCWayah and Rosaleen hung their hammocks in the shelter while I bunked for the night.
Day four, we ate and packed up early hitting the trail by 8:00. At the Grassy Bald trail junction I set my pack and poles down to check the mileage when I was maliciously and venomously attacked by hornets! I knew I had been hit three times in the first wave and I vacated the area with my pack. After moving up trail a ways I took two Diphenhydramine 25 mg capsules to reduce the effects of the stings and then tried to sneak back to retrieve my poles. The hornets were swarming about the pole straps and when I snatched the other ends they renewed their attack on me, getting in three more notable stings. We then proceeded on toward NOC. As we approached NOC passing day hikers informed us that Rosaleen had gotten directions to Walker Gap and was attempting to meet us there. When we got to the car and dug out CCWayah's cell phone and called Rosaleen as she arrived at Walker Gap. We then coordinated to meet below Stecoah Gap to position Rosaleen's car at Lemon Creek and drop her at Stecoah Gap so she could complete that section on day five while CCWayah, Sam and I headed home to pay bills, relive the elder care person who gave us the time off and get on with the gardening and other chores. The car had no problems on the return trip.
Post trip sting count is over eighteen stings. Most of them are minor, five rate as intense. We will be seeing how long it takes for them to heal. Fortunately I have not shown any signs of being allergic to bee stings.
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