St. Patrick's Day in the Smokies
Trip Start Mar 16, 2007
6Trip End Mar 25, 2007
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We knew it was going to be somewhat cold, but the extent of it surprised all of us. The high mountains were covered with ice when we got to the top of Newfound Gap (5,000 ft)
The Appalachian Trail has always been of interest to me. The sheer proportions of it are staggering. It stretches nearly 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine and crosses many of the higher peaks over the course of the Appalachian Mountains.
To hike the whole trail or "through hike" takes about 6 months. Hikers typically start in Georgia in March. We will have many encounters with "through hikers" along our short trip. Marked by simple white blazes, the trail covers the highest ridges in the Great Smoky Mountain National park, which turns out to be especially interesting this time of year.
The big challenge of the first day is to cover about 11 miles of hiking but due to the late start (12:30 pm) we must hurry to reach the shelter before dark. The biggest obstacle is Clingmans Dome,
While we did feel the cold, the resulting beauty was astounding, and the crisp winter air afforded views of the usually "Smoky" mountains and valleys that are seldom seen.
We arrived into camp pretty tired (I not having slept in two days) and it was extremely cold. We cooked some soup, but we were'nt even patient enough to wait for the rice to cook, so it was crunchy... We hung the bear bag and crawled into our sleeping bags for the night. I slept very well in my new 0 degree rated sleeping bag, but Amanda and Colin didn't fare quite as well using warmer weather bags.