Conditions: rain in the am, a freak cold spell at 11ish, sun in the afternoon

B: Power bar L: trail mix, SPAM single, snickers D: WENDY’S!!

I’m catching up after yesterday. What a day. I took off early thinking I’ll part ways w Littlefoot’s and Berg. It’s disappointing, but my feet/knees feel like lead on the hills. I set out to reach Cable Gap Shelter in 10 miles as they make a sprint to Fontana Dam (an 18+ mile day). Reaching another point of asking if this trip has a point or is worth it, I passed through Stecoah Gap and found a group collecting bananas from a “trail angel”, someone who contributes to the AT hikers in the hopes that they will continue the pay it forward tradition. Always so impressive to witness (and a delicious banana). After 4 more miles of steep hills and sweating like a pig, I turned off the trail at Brownfork Gap for water and a snack. By chance, I look up and Littlefoot’s and Berg are walking down as well! We enjoy good conversation about completely random topics and see a mouse skitter across the beam. It’s Berg’s arch enemy. No matter where, mice find his stuff and chew through his gear. That was enough to make me rethink Cable Gap Shelter.
We hiked on together for the rest of the day, even in the clouds.
Keeping a steady pace with others makes the miles so much easier. Stopping at Cable Gap for another snack, Berg found a 8′ x 6′ tarp someone left behind, duck taped and patched. Perfect. It now is nested under the bungee cords outside my pack. It probably leaks like crazy, but it the thought that counts, right?
After listing every favorite restaurant over the last three miles, we hit pavement at a Fontana Dam Marina with a coke machine. Berg immediately hovered around the coke machine blessing it for its kindness and concentrated sugars.
Around 6, we arrived at the Fontana Dam Shelter, showered and got ready for real food.
Tiffany, Littlefoot’s girlfriend, drove in and we rode to town for Wendy’s. The massive piles of food were ridiculous. Littlefoot’s triple-patty Baconator alone could have fed a small family. Chocolate Frosty ice cream is all I could think about. Size large. Don’t be stingy…to the brim, thanks. Plump & happy, we drove back and stayed at the shelter.