Sunday night was the coldest so far. At Standing Indian shelter, temperatures dropped to 20 degrees at the highest, and snow falling intermittently throughout the afternoon and evening covered everything in white by morning. Those of us at the shelter built a fire to stave off the worst of the cold, but that didn’t help us when we were in our sleeping bags or the next morning…But I got out ok. Cold like that just requires that you numb your senses a little. In the morning, for instance, I simply had to turn off the complaints in my head and stuff everything into my pack so I could get moving and warm up. Let the discomfort flow over you.
It’s warmed up, but I’m sure it’ll get colder again, especially once we cross Fontana Dam and head up into the Smoky Mountains. The Smokies loom as this dreaded but awed section of the trail, jagged and at a high elevation. We could see them from Albert Mountain yesterday; they alone retain a trace of Sunday’s snow, sunk into their frowning ridges.
On an unrelated note, I’ve found that I bizarrely love road crossings. Something about emerging from one trailhead and chugging right across the pavement to the next one hammers home the idea that this is no ordinary hike, where you leave your car in the parking lot and return at the end of the day. This trail literally transcends the parking lots. Swerve down into Unicoi Gap, only to charge right up the next mountain…
Next stop: the NOC.
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