April 19: After quite a late party at the Fontana Resort, we hiked across the dam and entered the Smokie National Park. We hiked 10 miles to the first shelter. It’s pretty crowded and I have elected to tent rather than brave the mice and smelly togetherness that is shelter sleeping.

A brief note on camp routine and chores. The first thing that you want to secure is a flat spot for your tent. There is much scrambling and wrangling for these few flat spots. Otherwise you slide into whatever side wall is down hill if you– very annoying and sleep destroying. Next, you have to fetch water, sometimes in front of the shelter, sometimes a half a mile away. After fetching 4 liters you have prepare the purification chemicals. Next you cook and eat dinner, wash up, and search for an appropriate tree to hang your food. It must be 10 feet off the ground, 4 feet from the trunk, and 4 feet from the branch. By now it’s an hour before hiker bed time of 8 to 830. You can sit by the fire if there is one. That’s it, bed time at 8. Rinse, repeat.

A further note on bears: there is a hiker whom nobody will tent next to for reasons that will become apparent. Her hiker name is Midnight Chef because she is always getting up and eating at midnight or all hours. Finally some one asked her how she got the food out of her bear bag. She replied that it was safer for her food if she kept it as a pillow in her tent at night. We have decided that her posthumous trail name will likely be Midnight Snack. Happy trails.

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