Day 9 – the Smokeys 

Imagine it snows over a foot in the last few days and the conditions would be perfect for skiing. You drive up to the mountain but instead of skiing you walk up and down the mountain all day. Every step you are up to your knees in powder and no matter what you do, by mid afternoon your feet are soaked. This was my day. I walked some of the most difficult miles I have ever walked and at the end of the day only has 18 tough miles to show for it. The scenery of The Smokey Mountains National Park is incredible and especially beautiful but it is not easy to navigate in the piercing wind, blowing snow and ice, and unrelenting mountains. I really wouldn’t rather be doing anything else but cutting trail with very minimal gear is downright hard. I got to bed very late last night due to all my town chores and the few precious hours of sleep I got were subjected to a choir of snores coming from the two other hikers I shared the shelter with. With the difficulty sleeping I was up and out into the national park very early. The nice wake up was the walk across Fontana Dam through the ripping wind followed by a 3000 foot climb to get back into the good snow. After this it was continual up and down in an average of 12″ of snow. The unfortunate thing was nearly every water source was frozen or under snow. I learned quickly and pushed through these challenges in the typical fashion. One way or another I will be an expert at hiking in the snow. It also feels like another night of zero degree temperatures is coming on. What an adventure this is!