And Then the Smokies

One step at a time.

How do I begin to explain the Smokies.  First, I don’t know if I have enough adjectives to describe the vast beauty.   The picturesque views do not only last for a minute. They last for approximately 70 miles.  With every summit, I would mumble the same words. “Are you kidding me?” “Wow!”

Getting Ready

In the beginning, I thought it would take six days to get through it.   Many former hikers suggested that I should prepare for the worst, which consisted of snow, sleet, ice, and wind.  I knew they were much more knowledgeable than me,  so that is what I planned for, the worst!

Beef Up the Gear

I knew I needed to carry extra food. As I would be climbing mountains that would be over 5500 feet, I knew I would be exerting a lot of energy, and food is energy.  Food is also weight, and pounds are pain when they’re on my back.  I bought extra snacks and of course, coffee.

I also needed to carry extra warm gear.  Therefore, at Fontana Dam, I bought a shirt and many hand warmers.  I distinctly remember some guy in the store saying, “You from Maine? You won’t need hand warmers.”  Anyway, I decided to continue with my plan and I bought six packages. I am well aware that when my hands get too cold they become dead weight. It’s hard for me to do the smallest tasks.  I didn’t want this to happen, so hand-warmer weight was worth it.

Respect for the Elements

The first night I was extremely tired.  I was actually too tired to even cook therefore,  I opened up my good ole, yet might I add delicious, “dry tuna.” I really just needed something to give me calories to keep warm through the night.  Fail!  I froze. The Smokies decided to dish out a nice little cold snap. The temperature had dropped to 15 degrees, which was followed by the mountain winds.  I thought to myself, “Shoot, this is only the first night.”  As I shivered in my tent, I decided to revise my six-day Smokies plan.

Plan of Attack

The only way to get out of bad weather when I am on the AT is to go through it and get out of it.  After waking up every morning to my water purification lines frozen,  I kept thinking, “Tomorrow it will be warmer!”

Unfortunately, the Smokies decided to share another storm that consisted of high wind gusts and ice-covered trails.  I decided to just hike. I knew if I moved, two things would happen: I’d be warmer and closer to the end, so that is what I did.

Clingmans Dome, highest point of the AT and sun?

Tough Love

I wanted to stay in the Smokies because of its beauty, but I had to say “Goodbye.”  After hiking in the pitch dark, stumbling into blowdowns and trying to thaw my fingers, it was time to bolt.  I prayed that God would sustain my body to push through the 70 miles in 3 1/2 days, and He did.  Thank you, Jesus!

Though I will not forget what these mountains taught me, I am happy to be on the other side.  I now know when I think I am maxed beyond limits, God’s supernatural strength will always get me through.    


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