Friday, March 12th, 2021
Yesterday we hitched into Fontana Village, today we would be walking there by trail. We took the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) passing the marina and into the resort. First thing first, hot coffee! As we waited for the resort’s restaurant to open for lunch, we talked to an older couple who were in the process of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT). All three of us had already completed the AT, so we provided them with some tips and advice.
We’d meet more AT hikers once the restaurant opened up and could immediately tell this was their first long trail. Not only did they have that uneasy, doe-eyed expression on their faces, their gear said it all! Even if you have your gear tight and lightweight from watching one too many UL vlogs or by following too many Instagram influencers, you can’t wipe that “I’m New” expression from your face. No judgement! We all started our journey not knowing what we were doing, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t find it somewhat comical seeing people just getting started. They haven’t “ruined” their lives yet!
They questioned us about what we were doing. We told them that we were thru hiking the BMT. They looked at us suspiciously.
“Those are REALLY tiny packs.”
By the time we all finished eating, they were beyond interested in receiving a good ol’ pack shakedown and asked us an abundance of questions. They’re new, but I could tell they had a high chance of finishing. They had the right mentality.
We were feeling lazy. We still had about 10 miles left to hike, and couldn’t peel ourselves out of the rocking chairs on the deck. It wasn’t until about 2:00 pm that we managed to get moving again.
We had a very steep climb out of the village. We at least had a decent view of the lake and surrounding mountains at the top. We hiked passed an old tower that looked more like a billboard before sliding downhill on the slick leaves that blanketed the trail. It was such a thick layer, we had to keep checking our GPS to be sure we were still on trail!
We’d follow a dirt road to another view under some power lines, then followed the road back to trail. The trail was on a ridge which turned into a gravel road, then it returned to a ridge snaking alongside the cascades down below. Although we were hit by a brief rainstorm, this ridge walking section was incredible! This would be one of my favorite stretches on the BMT. The rain stopped, then started back up as we climbed down the steep trail to the road.
We were excited to arrive at the Topoco Lodge for dinner. We timed it perfectly! It was their first day open for the season. The food was pricey, but it was delicious and we were just happy to be dry and out of the rain. Once again, we couldn’t pull ourselves away from this little pocket of civilization. This time, we’d give in. We weren’t staying at the lodge. It was too expensive, and already felt completely out of place just eating at the restaurant! However, we manage to find a place to stealth camp nearby under a gazebo near mile 107.9. We listened to the rain drops beating on the roof and were once again feeling satisfied with the day.
14.0 miles (22.5 km)
Jump Ahead to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 8
Jump Back to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 6
Start from the Beginning: Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 1