Miles hiked today: 12.9
Miles hiked total: 230.1
Miles to go: 1955.2
Today was a very cold and wet day. When I woke up in the morning, it wasn’t too cold and everyone ate their breakfast outside of the shelter. I started hiking at 8:00 with Wing It and we booked it to the next shelter, which was 5.2 miles away or so. It was a lot of uphill at the beginning and when I first started hiking I was actually hot. I had wished I had put my tank top on instead. I quickly got cold, though. It started raining on us, and then that turned to sleet. We were on the ridgeline for a lot of the morning and the wind was raging around us.
We finally reached the first shelter at 10:20. When I got there, I was so cold my body was shaking. I had sweat a lot and my under armour was soaked. My hands were freezing and my glove liners were wet and they eventually stopped keeping my fingers warm. I could barely move my hands to take my jacket and pack off. Wing It gave me handwarmers to wear with my glove shells. We ate a bunch of food (I think I ate three bars) and then decided to get hiking again. I really had to pee but the thought of taking my pants off just seemed ludicrous in this weather, so I decided to try my best to make it to the next shelter. We left around 10:40 and when we walked out of the shelter, the sleet turned to snow around us.
We had 7.6 miles to go, most of it downhill, and I was very cold setting out. My feet were freezing and my socks were wet. Everything eventually warmed up, though, but it took awhile. My hands were much warmer with the shells and handwarmers. Eventually, True Story caught up with us and decided to stick with us the rest of the way (he’s normally a very fast hiker, but in crazy weather it’s comforting to hike with friends). There was one part of the hike where I slipped on a rock and lost my footing and then couldn’t regain my balance. I kept veering to the right, which is where the trail ended and dropped off the side of the mountain. True Story realized what was happening and grabbed my pack to stop me from going over the edge. ‘Twas a close call!
Later during our hike, Wing It stopped to drink some water so I decided to pee finally since I had warmed up. I went right next to the trail because there really weren’t any good trees to go behind on this particular section of the trail (it was very narrow), and then I heard True Story shout, “there’s someone peeing on the trail right in front of you!” I turned around to see who it was and Townie was standing, turned around, on the trail. He said he had been trying to catch up with us and he hiked with us the rest of the way to the shelter. There was a plane wreck on the side of the trail that we were all on the lookout for, but none of us saw anything. We finally rolled into the shelter around 1:50.
I changed right away and claimed my spot in the shelter and quickly got into my sleeping bag to get warm. The temperature quickly dropped throughout the day and I was feeling it. Wing It and True Story set their things up next to me in the shelter, and Townie decided to hike an additional 10.7 miles to the Standing Bear Farm Hostel. I would have joined him but was afraid I’d be tired and end up injuring myself. I don’t mind hiking the 10 miles tomorrow once everything has cleared up and it’s a bit warmer.
I’m so excited to be out of the Smokies tomorrow! I get to call my mum! I should also be getting to Hot Springs on Saturday morning, where I’m planning to zero. I had service when I turned my phone on at the shelter tonight and called a hostel in Hot Springs and was able to reserve a single room for Saturday and Sunday nights. Success!! (I was afraid this wouldn’t be the case because word on the trail is that everything in town is booked because it’s Easter weekend and a bunch of families are coming to visit.)
Time to get into my sleeping bag and get warm!
Ta-ta for now!