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757 Smokies 2013-01-14

the Group at the end of the hike

My friend, Jon, picked me up early Friday morning and we began our Smokey's trip. Four hours later we met the other members of the group at Sugarlands Visitors Center in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Our hiking agenda was:

Day One - hike the Alum Cave Trail and sleep at the Le Conte Shelter.

Day Two - hike the Boulevard Trail to the Appalachian Trail and sleep at Icewater Shelter.

Day Three - finish on the short hike to Newfound Gap.

Inspiration Point on Alum Cave Trail

Inspiration Point

So a few notes from the trip ...

There were six hikers, all experienced and carrying good gear.

Our group consisted of two doctors, an insurance salesman, a machinist, an engineer, and an old riverboat pilot. I think we had all the bases covered.

We were actually registered as two groups.

The forecast was not for snow and cold but instead for an unseasonable warm front.

The weather was windy, rain or mist most of the time, and cool temperatures.

In planning for the trip, everyone thought it was going to be much cooler and with snow.

There were still patches of ice on the trail, but none that really blocked passage.

The temperature was just made for getting hypothermia (warm enough to make you sweat, but cool enough that when you stopped you would shiver), but everyone was careful and there were no problems.

There was a new privy at the Le Conte Shelter. It was pretty nice!

I ate a Mountain House, Macaroni and Cheese Dinner one night. It was a huge meal with plenty of calories. I was very surprised at how good it was. While visiting REI I had scoffed at paying 7.50 for Mac and Cheese, but after eating it, I wished I had bought two!

To help stay dry, I carried a small GoLite umbrella. It worked well, but then I slipped and landed in a puddle. So much for staying dry.

The daily trail mileages were easy to walk. If, however, we would have had winter weather, the trip would have been much more difficult.

At Le Conte Shelter, a group of three hikers arrived at 0500. They had hiked through the night.

I ate all of the food I carried (except for a couple of bars). I also wore all of my clothes except for rain pants and a Puff Pullover. I used the pullover as a pillow.

Around camp I wore a waterproof rain pullover. The non-breathable fabric helped me stay warm while I was able to dry my clothes that had gotten wet from the hike that day.

On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning we had pleasant weather.

The wind on Saturday night seemed as if it was going to rip the roof off of the shelter.

From the dim glow of the Icewater Shelter, we stood under the shelter's porch and watched a football game on an iPhone via Slingbox! Okay, that probably violated some kind of wilderness code of ethics, but you have to be a bit forgiving when Peyton is playing.

We met in Gatlinburg for breakfast and then parted ways.

This is an annual winter trip, but it was the first time that I was invited to join the others. It was a great trip, but any time you hike with good people, it always makes for a good time.

Happy Smoky trails


Smoky Gallery


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