And Then the Smokies
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!”
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.
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!
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