AT Day 24 – Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Zero day at US 19E
Mountain Harbor Bed Camp night #2
AT miles: nothin’
Total miles: still 403.5
Elevation change: nothin’

Well, nothing much happened today, but the weather outside was frightful. The predicted storm rolled in during the night and kept me confined to the hostel barn for all but a few minutes in Roan Mountain to resupply. As the snow fell and the tempest raged, I sat in front of the heater and was grateful to be inside, safe, and almost warm. Zero days are always a strange interlude, where the inactivity is both restful and maddening. However, waiting out this snowstorm felt like the best excuse to relax and not feel guilty about it. And I certainly don’t.

Yep, I was glad I decided not to camp last night.

I awoke to a few inches of snow on the porch furniture outside the large glass door, one bunk away. The snow was still coming down in thick sheets, snow globe style. Apparently I had slept through a tremendous deluge of rain in the wee hours of the morning, but the scene was relatively peaceful now. The occasional gust of wind ripped through the small valley, shaking the whole building.

It was cold downstairs when I stepped down to fix breakfast. The lower level space heaters were barely hanging on, fighting a losing battle, giving everything they had. This old barn just wasn’t built to keep the cold out. Frigid drafts wafted through from anywhere and everywhere. For now though, I was plenty warm and just really happy to be inside. I had considered camping a few miles from here last night and hiking in early today to save myself $30, but I now felt validated in my decision to stay two nights. The oatmeal was hot and hit the spot. No rolling up a snowy tent today.

This is where I huddled away most of the day.

I retreated from an unsatisfying conversation about so many things, back upstairs to sit in front of the heater, look outside, and do phone chores. I noodled away the morning, then received a call from my good friend, Alamo in Germany (of Haute Route fame). It was great to catch up and remember the good ole days.

My hunger drove me back downstairs to find another warm thing to eat. I heated up some Indian lentil mush and scarfed it down with some toast. It was hot and excellent. Piecing together my resupply was next. Trail Mix let me into the general store, and I started to shiver as I browsed the limited selection. As I piled 13 Clif bars and large quantities of other snack-sized foods, I could tell that this was going to be expensive. However, I was blown away when the total topped $100, for just 3 days of food. It was a crappy, uninspired resupply for an exorbitant markup. But what could I do? I was pretty much trapped.

Not exactly sure how it would work out, I returned a large portion of my pile to the shelves. There were a lot of roads to cross between here and Damascus. I’d rather figure it out, out there then throw away my money here. I settled up the bill, then scuttled back to the hiker box to claim that big bag of previously eschewed plain oatmeal. It would have to do.

Calling it an old barn doesn’t do the hostel justice. It was nice, just a little drafty downstairs.

I soaked my feet and watched the wind. Some snowboarders showed up after getting blown off the mountain, providing some good conversational variety. As evening approached, TicTac, who had already helped me out by provisioning my stay from her stash of plant-based food, offered to take me down the road to finish off my resupply. Still disgruntled by the hostel store prices, I agreed, even though I felt like I was accepting too much.

Clearing up, temperature dropping.

The sky was clearing up and the air much colder when we ventured out. It was a beautiful scene, but one that I could only visit temporarily, even in all of my layers. The temperature was somewhere south of 10F, and still falling. The Dollar General had closed early for the weather, and the other small grocery had just enough to supplement my other provisions. No bars, so I’ll be eating a ton of Pop Tarts this next stretch.

It’s always nice to visit a local Dollar General. Every town has one.

Back at Mountain Harbor, I cooked up almost more pasta and crescent rolls than I could handle, then moved away from conspiracy theory chatter, back in front of the heater upstairs. I soon scooted to my bed, as it seemed like the warmer option.

A delicious and nutritious bowl of pasta and veggies to warm my bones.

Just as I was about to turn in, three more snowboarders showed up. They drank a lot of beer, but I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. It was worth staying up past my bedtime to hear about lives so different from mine. Good people everywhere. At midnight, well past hiker midnight, I tapped out, rolling over, grateful for my warmth.

Favorite moment of the day? It had to be the ride to the grocery store. Getting outside into the world and seeing it with a fresh coat of snow was just what I needed after a day spent trying to isolate myself from it. It was a needed reminder that when I hike out tomorrow, there will be more to think about than the cold. It would be gorgeous. An Appalachian treat. Actually, I don’t know. Those crescent rolls were pretty good too…

This post was originally published on my blog Check it out for trip reports from my other hikes including the CDT and Sierra High Route.

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Comments 5

  • Smitty : Mar 20th

    Good to see your progress healing or growth days are fine I wish I wrote as well as you that said I’ll just keep waiting in CT for you to pass on by

  • Oughton : Mar 20th

    Oh look, another person from CA calling someone from TN’s opinion a “conspiracy theory”…. Way to live up to the CA stereotype!

  • HillBilly Slim : Mar 20th

    If there was a LIKE button, I would smash it with all of the might that my “non plant based” fueled diet would allow. There’s no doubt that his mantra should be “Make America Graze Again” and CNN is his go to source on how to identify conspiracy theories and Russian disinformation.

  • Brian Worthley : Mar 21st

    Hello Owen, enjoyed your story and will look forward to reading more of your adventures on the AY. Be safe and healthy and warm!!!! This was well written and to the point of the adventure, not drag out. Great work stay positive. All the best Brian.????

    • Owen Eigenbrot : Apr 11th

      Thanks, Brian. I really appreciate your support.


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