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- Published on Sunday, 22 April 2012 10:43
- Written by Super User
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The Smoky Mountains can be solid on the ankles, and it rains a lot. I learned this on the first day of my hike, both throughout experience and from the stories of the other hikers. This was good, though, because hiking this extends of the Appalachian Trail would be a fine test for my new frivolous backpacking gear.
I was hiking in light running shoes, with a frameless fourteen-ounce backpack. My down sleeping bag weigh just seventeen ounces, and I would be sleeping under a trivial tarp. My pack weight was eleven pounds total at the start, as well as all food and water. A friend from Asheville, North Carolina drove me up to Newfound Gap, in the center of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park we took in the view with a hundred other tourists, and then he hiked with me for the first mile or two, before heading back. I made a dead tree branch into a walking stick, to help my knees when I was hiking the steep downhill make bigger. It was getting cloudy and cooler, but I hadn't heard anything about bad weather.
I perhaps was in Tennessee when it began to snow. The Appalachian Trail here weaves back and forth crossways the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, but in any case, I was somewhere near Clingman's Dome, above 6000 feet the flakes were getting better, and night was coming. I had come south from Michigan looking for heater weather, and I hadn't predictable snow in early May, even in the Smoky Mountains.
In the morning, I was astonishingly within a foot or two where I in progress, and I had somehow manage to stay dry. Seven inches of snow covered everything. I packed up and was soon at the top of Clingman's Dome. There is an implausible tower at the peak, with a spiral ramp going to the top. I was the only one there to enjoy the view, and I could see ten or twelve feet in every way.
I hiked the Appalachian Trail for half a day, explanation to other hikers I met that I wasn't just on a day hike ("Is that a day-pack?"). Then I headed lower. The trees above a certain elevation in the Smoky Mountains don't yet have their leaves in early May. Lower down the leaves open in April, so as the trail went up and down, I passed from leafy forests to winter landscapes frequently. I eventually found a good springtime site.
I never could have hiked 39 miles in a day in hiking boots for three days I manage to stay warm and dry during snow and rain. My Smoky Mountains hiking knowledge proved to me the value and safety of lightweight backpacking techniques and tackle. It was also fun to tell the other hikers that, no, I was not day hiking.
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