We took a zero day at the fontana inn and shelter beforeourtrek to the smokeys. Hanging out with the other hikers we chatted, relaxed by playing cards, and reorganizing our gear. It was nice to have a such a large warm fire to sit next to. It was a long day up from Fontana Dam shelter. We started out towards the Fontana Dam along the local road. You could see how large the dam was as we crested over the hill. I stopped often taking many pictures of the fog comming onto the lake before getting to the dam. There was a nice museum to visit, taking our time we learned about the Dam Kids and the history of the area.
The views from the dam overlooking the lake were spectacult. The lake crystalline and glass like reflected the mountains and the sky above. Taking our time we enjoyed our trip across the dam. From here out we entered the Smokey Mountains, uphill all day. I felt heavy with the eight days of food in my pack, the full load weighed me down with every step up the trail. It was Thunder, Andrew (Ultra Notlight), and myself for the day. The three of us climbed the shuckstack firetower. The firetower was very sturdy, offering beautiful views, the floor of the tower was not sure on the other hand.
Heading out we learned that a bear hangs around the firetower rifling through left bags. Moving down the trail we headed to the campground for lunch. Taking our time for lunch we were soon accompanied by Iccarus, where we swapped foods and ate a glorious feast. Just about the time we headed out we were joined by a local Georgian named Teddy. The five of us trekked on with a great pace, in sync with each other while we carried on. We even played games up and to including 20 questions. It took the guys forever to get Darth Vadar, I was getting so irritated.
Just as the finally guessed his name I yelled for them to stop. We were face to face with a very large black bear, not more than 20 feet from me. He was easily my size, 250 to 300 lbs hunched over in this huge back mass. His face and ears a golden brown, raising his head he stared right at me, I looked directly at him and told the others not to move and to stay calm as I drew my knife. Teddy asked what do we do. Seeing that he wasn’t moving I said for us to continue to face him and to back away slowly, so he could watch us. He was no more than five feet from the edge of the trail, we had only one way to go.. Thunder and Teddy drew their bear spray as he watched us back up slowly. Feeling confident and safe me slowly walked away from the edge of the trail and up the hill from us. Turning he squatted down and went to the bathroom. Showing us that he was a big confident male bear. We slowly walked down the trail facing him as we moved. Finishing his business he turned and faced us, his eyes fixed on the five of us as we passed him.
We moved quickly putting as much distance as we could between us and him. The weather changed drastically over the next hour to the shelter. We had rain, hail, sun, wind, and everything in between. Still the big bear remained on our minds. My heart remained calm but my mind moved in every which way. I kept my head on a swivel, looking for more bears and cubs. We didn’t goof off anymore, a serious tone was in the air as we arrived to the shelter sharing our expierence. Eating and getting set up we told our stories of the day. Everyone was a bit on edge. Pebbles, Bam-Bam, and Unibrow had been growled at by the same bear. We were all on edge and it didn’t help that some idiot hiker was cooking his dinner in the shelter right before we were going to bed
Sleep came quickly for us all in the shelter. Tossing and turning a bit, I was sound asleep till I heard a blood curdling scream for one girl and another screaming fk, fk, fk,fk fk ffffffffk. Then I was being hit from everwhere. I kicked as hard as I could, punching through my bag fighting back to what was attacking me. The world went bright as headlamps came on and other people started to scream. Pulling my bag over my face, I saw Teddy and I fighting each other, rolling over I expected to see bodies torn apart, but found everyone looking around wondering what had happened.
It turns out that one of hikers had a night terror and kicked Pebbles in the face repeatedly, she was screaming funk funk funk while in her bag. Lauren freaked 9ut and started to scream when she was kicked as well. The two of them bolted to the back of the bunk area. Bumping up against the underside of our floor. Teddy and I heard the screaming and reacted in the same way by attacking the nearest threat. It definitely kept us awake for the rest of the night. Sleep did not come easy for us then.