Smokey Mountains- Been there, Done that!

ClingMans Dome

ClingMans Dome

Hello everyone! I am currently sitting at the Hiker Ridge Ministries Resource Center using their computer. This place is a gem in Hotsprings, NC. If you are ever in town, make time to visit Queen Diva. She is such a bundle of joy to be around with. She also makes some delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Hiker ministries

Hiker ministries

So what can I tell you about the Smokeys? The Smokey Mountains are completely different from everything else so far. The trail in Georgia has been deciduous forest (leave based trees). Once you enter into the Smokeys, be prepared to walk through amazing groves of Conifers (pine trees). I am absolutely in love with pine trees! The smell of pine and the carpet of pine needles is intoxicating.

Right before I left Fontana Dam, I was resupplying at the local store. Their selection is not amazing but not too shabby. My food bag was a total weight of 16.5 pounds. That was supposed to last for 8 days but… I ate it all in 5.

This is what a 16 lb food bag looks like!

This is what a 16 lb food bag looks like!

The funny thing is out here people do not count calories anymore. We simply measure intake of food by pounds per day. All my food is dehydrated stuff by the way: pasta, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and junk food like poptarts, snickers, paydays…
You may be surprised that I am eating 3 lbs of food a day but its actually perfectly normal haha! Most former through hikers are shoveling food down their throats all day long.
Well, once I entered into the Smokeys the weather for the next 2 days was supposed to be sunny. But that was wrong of course. It started snowing the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that… At first I was like “Wohoo! Snow, I love it!” After a few days I was like, “More snow seriously?! Come on!” And then things got interesting. The temp simply plummeted. I spent a cold night in my tent while it was 0 degrees outside. It was absolutely miserable haha! I would wake up every 30 minutes or so and do pushups/sittups to warm up and then try to go back to sleep. What made things worse was a re-occurring dream I had. There was this T-Rex that was chasing me all night long. He had it out for me hahaha! That’s what I get for watching Jurassic Park one too many times.

Eventually the snow stopped falling and I was able to put out some big miles despite the 2 foot deep snow drifts. I’ve never hiked in snow up to my knees but it was actually fun! I was able to dominate on the trail because of my shoe chains. Everyone was jealous and one guy even offered me $100 for them, but I refused because compromising safety was not worth it. I was lucky to make it to Standing Bear hostel where I could resupply.

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Standing Bear Hostel, wonderful place!

 

Tunnels through the pine forest, amazing!

Tunnels through the pine forest, amazing!

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Snow Chains, worth the .5 lbs

Snow Chains, worth the .5 lbs

One of my favorite shelters was Mt Collins Shelter. This place is nestled in among giant pine trees which reminded me of Snow white and the 7 Dwarfs of all things. I was expecting the Dwarfs to show up and kick me out. It is located .5 miles off the AT which isn’t too bad of a hike. I forgot to sleep with my wet shoes and socks that night, big mistake! My shoes were bricks of ice and my socks, well… If you held a piece of wood in one hand, and my socks in the other, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference haha! True story. However, Dune said that Shelter gave him magic dreams. He spent all night at an ‘all you can eat buffet’! Those dreams are always the best. A lot of people out here have mentioned how crazy and vivid their dreams get.

Mt Collins Shelter

Mt Collins Shelter

I eventually made it to Hotsprings after 7 days of hiking in the snow, and one miserable day hiking in heavy mud/slush. Totally worth it!

Highlights of the trip:
-I scored some sunglasses at a hiker box. It was awesome wearing them in the bright snow. But I forgot them at pecks corner shelter.
-I got a new Jetboil at Fontana Dam. Man was I excited, like a kid on Christmas! But it broke the 2nd day of use.
-I thought my food would last through the smokeys. But I ran out 3 days short. I’m thankful for Standing Bear Hostel.
-My quads are part steel now. But by Achilles Tendons are still not up to par with these mountains.

That’s about it for now people. Take care and God Bless!

Chuck vs Snowman. Snowman stood no chance!

Chuck vs Snowman. Snowman stood no chance!

Quick update

Hello everyone! I survived the Smokeys. It was intense; fog, rain, ice everywhere, 0 degree nights, snow drifts 2 feet deep, ice showers (thats where chunks of falling ice from the trees are hitting you). It was pretty intense. I will update with a post and pics about the events in a couple days. Right now i have virtually no signal out here. The goal is to get to Hot Springs, NC in 3 days time.
Take care,
Spidy