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423 Thunderhead -
Trail Snippets

Weather moving into the area mountains

Saturday, I hiked Thunderhead Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains with my friends Jon, Nick, and Ed. The hike was a bit longer and steeper than Alum Cave.

Friday, I will talk about the hike; but in the meantime - how about some trail snippets …

We began the hike at 8 and finished at 4. Jon set a good, steady pace.

While climbing the mountain, Ed spoke of when anyone asked him anything concerning time, his answer would always be "in about 15 minutes."

In predicting the arrival of the coming rainstorm, fast Nick, the weatherman, was trying to get us to guess when the rain would arrive. Ed did not submit a guess; but if he had said, "in about 15 minutes", he would have won!

Leaving Thunderhead, we stopped for lunch; but cut our rest short due to the rain. Quickly we hurried back to the Bote Mountain Trail junction at Spence Field. There Jon decided to change into dry socks. We stood in the misty fog watching. No sooner than he had changed into the fresh yarns, the rain returned and stronger than ever. Several times I asked about his dry socks, knowing that his boots were soaked through and through. Jon just chuckled. He had originally changed into dry socks to prevent blisters, I don't think he rubbed any blisters even with the wet socks.

During the hike, I was concerned about our dog, Jake. He was staying in Knoxville with our daughter, Rose - because the park does not allow dogs on the trails. I knew Rose would take good care of Jake; but he gets nervous and shows concern during storms. He is a cautious dog and is not content until he finds a safe place. With the thunder chasing us from Thunderhead, I could just imagine Jake pacing the floor at Rose's looking for just the right place to wait out the storm.

I wore a wind shirt that I had recently treated with a water repellency. I got pretty wet and while walking downhill was not getting warmer. I stopped and changed into a waterproof jacket. The weather was cool enough that I never sweated wearing the jacket. I did finally rewarm my core temperature.

In the meantime, fast Nick, who has about as much fat on his body as a pencil, always tries to travel ultralight. He only carried a wind shirt in his small pack. Along the way he said, "I think I would be dryer if I jumped into a swimming pool!"

Later, Nick showed me how that his wind shirt would allow rain to pass through the nylon fabric; but then would not let it out. Holding his arm up and hand down, water poured from his sleeve. I know that Nick was cold; but he never complained.

Back in Knoxville, I told Rose (a recent chemical engineering grad) the story of Nick and his wind shirt - how the nylon let the rain pass through but not out - she immediately responded, "did he have the jacket on inside out?" I wished Nick would have been there to field that question. I just smiled - she was solving the problem. Maybe. she will discover a new waterproof/breathable process.

We did not take a break until descending from Thunderhead. Well, then we had to take another break to watch Jon change his socks. For most of the eight hour hike, we just kept moving. It felt good.

It was a good hike and even better time spent with friends in the rain.

Happy snippets of the trails


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