Last night I stayed at the Fontana Dam Shelter, well known on the AT as the Fontana Hilton.  It is a beautiful and spacious shelter that sleeps 24.  There is a washroom block nearby that has flush toilets and a hot shower, amenities not available at the backcountry shelters.  A hot shower at the end of the day is much more pleasant than the usual 4 pots of cold spring water over the head.

Until an hour before dark I was the only hiker at the shelter.  Then a couple of young SOBO thru hikers arrived.  They completely ignored me, probably because I am just a section hiker, and old to boot.  I returned to my reading, but intermittently I noticed an unpleasant odour.  I eventually realized that the smell was coming from the thru hikers: I was finally encountering the infamous AT Thru Hiker Stink.  It was with some trepidation that I went to bed in the quasi-enclosed space, but mercifully the thru hikers were on the far side of the large shelter.  Waves of the stench did waft over throughout the night, but it was bearable.  In the morning the thru hikers slept in.  I got up and left, my last image of the shelter a filthy head of hair protruding from a fetid sleeping bag.  I thought it was remarkable that when presented with the opportunity for a free and convenient hot shower at the end of a hot day of hiking the thru hikers opted to abstain.

Follow Our Journey

Don't want to miss a post?

Sign-up below to receive notifications whenever we add a new post to our blog.