Our June hike with Friends of the Smokies was an overnight trip at Fontana Village. The high society of Friends came to socialize, hike and eat. Everyone who came cared about Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Jim Hart, the Executive Director of Friends, was there along with Holly Demuth and Keith Hoffman of the North Carolina office and Holly Scott, the marketing director-left below with Billy the A.T. ridge runner.
Dale Ditmanson, the superintendent of the park, came. Four board members attended and so did lots of hikers. It was a chance for the average FOTS member to meet Dale and Jim.
The first day promised to be wet and stormy. Our guide didn’t feel comfortable taking us across Fontana Lake. He changed plans and took the group to the Twenty Mile trailhead.
Through a series of mistakes, six of us missed the walk and talk and hiked the Twenty-Mile circular. The skies opened up in the early afternoon and I’m still drying out.
But all was forgotten when we all gathered in a social hall at Fontana Village for meet and greet. Dale and Jim said some good words about the great partnership between the park and Friends. I got a couple of minutes to talk about my views on national park support. That deserves its own column.
The next day, 10 eager hikers took on a long and strenuous hike–11.7 miles and 3,000 feet of ascent. We walked up the Appalachian Trail to the Shuckstack Tower; amazing views from up there. See the picture just above.
Then to Lost Cove Trail with its 13 water crossings, depending on how you count them. The crossings weren’t dangerous; you just got your feet wet.
The last segment was on the Lake Shore Trail back to the cars.
Dale and Suzanne Ditmanson came as did two board members. Billy, the A.T. Ridge Runner, walked with us until we turned off to Lost Cove Trail. Talk about pressure on the leader; that was me.
But everyone made it just fine.
I was delighted to be able to show up this remote part of the park, as if it was my personal property. And in a way it is mine; I’m just letting everyone else use it.
July 16: Newfound Gap-Kephart Prong Excursion (7.4 miles, 800 ft ascent) easy-peasy shuttle hike
To register, please contact Friends’ Waynesville, NC office at (828) 452-0720 or email Keith Hoffman, our AmeriCorps Outreach Associate at email@example.com