Day 18: Derrick Knob to Gatlinburg, TN

Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Friday, April 2, 2010

Hi all,
Did you know that the highest point on the AT is Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mtn National Park? It is NOT the tallest mtn in the eastern US, that award goes to Mt Mitchell in North Carolina.

Today was rough, we got up to a beautiful morning and hit the trail at 8:45. We were clipping along at 3 mph until we hit the approach for Clingmans Dome, highest point on the AT (and a full 1000ft higher than the previous high (Thunderhead mtn)

The trail was immediately covered with thick snow. Mostly it was packed down and frozen but it was hard climbing since every step up resulted in slipping a bunch backwards (like climbing a sand dune!)

Our pace slackened a lot and we didn't summit until about 2:30. The view from the top was great, could see the mtns we had already hiked, and some of the ones to come. Last time I was up Clingmans it was frigid and we didn't linger, this time we had our lunch.

After lunch we had to descend which was the really enjoyable part, snow packed trail 3-6 ft deep, and since it had been melting the pack was weakened. Every step had the potential to "post hole" down to your waist. Fortunately we each only fell around ten times and no injuries. It would be easy to jam a foot and break a leg. Where the snow had been exposed to sun, it had really melted and then water was all pooled up to depths of 6 inches or more. Stepped in a few of those and my boots are absolutely soaked. The repair job on the soles is already coming undone... I'll prolly switch to tennis shoes once out of the snow.

It took us until nearly half seven to arrive at Newfound Gap (18 miles is my greatest distance so far) we are now over 200 miles in and less than 2000 to go!

My dad was going to try to pick me up at the gap, but he was running late, so we got a ride with the dad of "Thin Mint" another thruhiker. I hung out with Willard until dad arrived at Gatlinburg. We picked up some fast food and got the keys to our cabin for the weekend.  I am very much looking forward to a couple of zeros. My feet are all waterlogged, got sunburnt today from the snow and sun, blisters on feet (and hands now too!) and my knees are screaming. Hopefully I'll be ready to hit the trail with lots of energy again, but I hear that going back after a zero is really a painful experience.

Hope you all are well. Waiting on mom, Andrea, Marie, and Colin to get in. I'm trying to stay awake... Hiker midnight is 9pm and it's passed 1am. Zzzzzzzz
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Sarah Lampe on

I've just realized that "parent midnight" is about 7pm... no wonder i'm always so tired... ha ha. Hugs to your Mom, Andrea, Marie and Colin! I'm sure you guys will have a blast catching up...which I could join you!
xo, sarah

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