It could not have been better. The weather was perfect. 5 days in the Great Smoky Mountains with temperatures in the 70ºs everyday, no rain. The boat ran great.
The Government shutdown made the park extremely quiet, but all seemed normal here at Fontana Lake, NC. You'd never know there was a park shutdown. No rangers, but Fontana visitors center was open, a few campers arriving by kayak in the park. However, only saw one hiker in 5 days and 35+ miles of hiking... a girl through-hiker on the AT, coincidentally, a recent college grad from Sewanee. We hiked with her to Shuckstack tower.
The big hike was Monday, the 16 mile hike to High Rocks with a 3500" climb. We started a bit late and walked the last hour in the dark, but we were prepared. The summit view was great. The old ranger cabin at the summit was severely deteriorated, the roof had fallen in.
The Friday hike up the Lost Cove trail out of Eagle creek to Shuckstack tower was spectacular. The weather was clear and it made for some really good photos.
Overall, we saw 5 bear... all in trees and coming down fast to flee from us.
Check out the photos...