Day 15 - Benton MacKaye Trail

 

Today we ate a huge breakfast thanks to Tapoco Lodge and left the hotel with lighter than anticipated packs thanks to them holding a box full of stuff for us.  NoKey hasn't been eating as much as we planned so sending some food back has been nice.  We walked outside the lodge and caught a ride to Fontana Dam thanks to Ed from Missouri, who was out driving on the Dragon and killing time.  For those who don't know, U.S. 129 is called The Dragon, 300 curves in 11 miles, and attracts people from all over the country who want to say they drove it.

 FINALLY! 

FINALLY! 

We hit the Dam at 11 am and thanked Ed for the ride.  I gave him a bit of a history lesson about the area during the trip too.  Thanks again, Ed!  We began walking across the dam and into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!  The BMT follows Lakeshore Trail the first 35 miles and I enjoyed seeing familiar trail again.  I also gave NoKey some history about the area while we took photos of everything from abandoned cars to old homesites and chimneys.  When we made it 5 miles in we were at campsite 90 and it is absolutely packed - to be expected since its Memorial Day weekend.  We headed on down the trail to campsite 86, which is on the site of the now abandoned town of Proctor.  We had late lunch here and headed up and over Welch Ridge to campsite 81.

 One of many abandoned cars along the trail

One of many abandoned cars along the trail

 

We got to 81 and met a large group there. We said our hellos and set up our tent to dry out from the wet night we had before heading down Slickrock.  Tomorrow we are expecting busy trails since its the swing of Memorial Day.

 The chimney of an old home is all that remains standing. 

The chimney of an old home is all that remains standing.