The evening of the 20th found us hunkered down in a shelter with the winds howling. Portions of the forest pounded on the tin roof as the occupants told humorous stories of painting armadillos in Texas. I was missing my down vest greatly. It had been left at NOC after a freezing cold shower with no towel. I ran from the shower to one of those hand dryers in an attempt to get some warmth. As I raced to dress I forgot my vest which was still next to the shower stall. Bad mistake.
When morning came we awoke to frigid temperatures and a healthy wind. We already had about an inch on the ground.
I was absolutely miserable! No phone service to order breakfast I opted to skip a hot meal simple because I was out of water and with no vest I was freezing. I opted to hike for warmth after downing two dirt bars and some of those humongous M & M’s.
Bear Bait and No Name preparing for the day in the Shelter.
My first steps were tentative. Snow now covered the slippery rocks increasing the chances for a nasty fall. It would happen on this day. I bundled up covering my entire face except my eyes. The snow was coming down heavily and since it was right at 32 degrees it would alternate between sleet, rain and snow. Soon I was hiking in 2 to 4 inches of snow with drifts up to 7 to 8 inches.
This is what the trail looked like today.
Bear Bait caught up to me at 5.2 miles followed by No Name at 5.7 miles. By then we were at Cable Gap Shelter. Not many people on the trail on this day. By four Silver and I managed to make it to Highway 28 and caught a ride to Fontana Village where we spent the night.
We’ve got a big six days ahead of us. We will cross the Fontana Dam this morning and begin about six days in the Smokies. No stopping there.. no pizza shops, nail salons, dry warm enclosures, or resupply stores. As a matter of fact there is only one highway and it is closed. So the next few days will be a challenge. It’s time to pack up… add more food for six days…overstock on Twizzlers and garbage bags for my feet. The challenge is about to become challenge +. Hike on!!