Winter Appalachian Trail Thru Hike – Day 8 (23 miles)
Up into the Smokies I headed.
I barely managed to pack up and get to the toilet block in time this morning. After that it was a mile or so road walk from the shelter over Fontana Dam and into the Smokies NP. This also began a 8,000ft (3km) vertical climb up including 4 peaks along the way.
The day was rather good. I climbed out of a layer of cloud sitting on the valley floor and for the rest of the day was treated to some great views of the dam below.
It was actually quite a tough day physically with some fairly steep climbs and also some rocky terrain.
I stopped at the first shelter for my morning break. It was out of the frigid wind and so much more pleasant.
I only was going for an hour or so when I ran into a guy at the next shelter. I ended up taking to him for about an hour. He was getting close to his 4400 mile AT YO-YO and had some interesting stories to tell.
It was only a couple of hours until I arrived at the shelter I will be staying at. The parks requirement of staying in a shelter is rather frustrating as the is still a couple of hours of daylight left to walk. However, on this occasion, with a large and very cold storm predicted to hit tonight, I was happy to call it an early day.
There was a couple also staying at the shelter and when I walked in they were just getting a fire going. It seems I arrived at the perfect time!
It ended up being a fantastic night hanging out with them both (@gypsy_jenns) . Nothing special, just listening to music around the fire and taking. I was just listening to some great stories of theirs from hikes in Nepal and South America.
Just after dark the wind picked up and snow was falling! Tomorrow will be a white Christmas!
It was 10 or 11 before I finally went to bed, well past my normal bed time. It is going to be a cold night with the temp predicted to be in the teens (-10C).
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