Leaving the NOC you are 2-3 days hike from Fontana Dam and the Smokey Mountains National Park. There is no easy resupply in the Smokies that I am aware of.
The only real food stuffs prior to the Smokies are at the NOC or in Stecoah. Close to the halfway point (mile total 207.3) through the Smokies you’ll come across Newfound Gap at the intersection of 441. Gatlinburg is 14 miles north of the AT at that junction. I’m seeing two options for food through the Smokies.
1) Load up at the NOC and push through to Gatlinburg. Resign to getting a shuttle or hitching into Gatlinburg for 3-4 more days of food to get through the Smokies, perhaps to resupply and stay in the “Tree House” at Standing Bear Farm at the end of the Smokies (NOBO).
2) From Stecoah Gap, take 143 down the valley to resupply for 6-8 days and push through the entire Smokies in one shot to Standing Bear. I chose option two.
From Stecoah Gap you are about 9 miles from Fontana Dam and the start of the Smokies. Beware, it’s a really long “3 miles” downhill away from the AT. If you’re fortunate like I was, you’ll get a free lift to the Wolfcreek General Store and there are half a dozen hiker and biker hostels about. This was my first “hitch,” though I didn’t have my thumb out. They just stopped and offered. Good peoples…
Leaving the NOC, prepare for lots of up, it’s nearly an 8 mile uphill climb to the next shelter/camping spot!
Plenty of great views along the way to the dam.
Stop and have lunch with a “view” at Jump Up point.
One of these guys may join you.
Use the not so obvious small path opposite that “scenic view” for a view of the Nantahala River, and you don’t have to jump.
Tomorrow a short hiking day to Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the Eastern U.S. They have a great shelter, showers and swimming in the lake of course. Going to hang around and try some fishing at the bottom maybe. Looks like the weather for the Smokies is going to be prime. No rain this week, thank God…
Ya on second thought, the dam is probably still wide open and outrageous. Fishing isn’t happening…