Saturday, April 25, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Snow, wind, ice, 14 inches of snow and a temperature of 35 degrees at 11am. That's Clingman's dome in April. It could be 70 degrees and sunny or it could be a bit rough. After driving to the summit today I gained a new respect for anyone who attempts the Appalachian Trail. AT hikers must brave about 180 or so mile to get to this point and anyone who can make it this far is one tough person. The entire trail is a whopping 2100+ miles - only a few hundred make that every year and that has to be one amazingly difficult trip. Today there would be a handful of 15 or so hikers who would come out onto this area, hitch-hike down to Gatlinburg for a much needed rest and refuel, then back at it. Ur amazing you AT'ers, my hats off to you.
After reading Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" my son and I became infatuated with the AT (short for Appalachian Trail). Since we were trying to save some $$ and stay closer to home this spring break we thought we'd do a quick trip to Tennessee to check out the trail as it winds through the Smokies. I packed and double checked the weather. Average early April temps in Gatlinburg are about 65-70 degrees and about 10 degrees colder up in the mountains. Everything looked great. Both Andrew and I were sick though so we had to postpone out trip until Tuesday, arriving late at night in a dark Gatlinburg. We awoke to some splendid sunshine though, made a quick stop at Kroger for last minute supplies, then headed up to the visitor center for a map. Amazingly, the lady at the counter told me the road leading into the park was closed due to ice and snow -- they had a huge snowstorm up top and received well over 10 inches of snow !!! Amazing. We did a quick side trip around the south side to Cades Cove and put on our packs. We were going to head up anyway. The pictures down below show the gradual change from wet trail to snowy trail to SNOW trail and finally the AT at the top right next to Russel Field Shelter - elevation about 4600 feet. We had climbed up about 3600 vertical feet in 5 miles, taking 3 hours to do it. Great views all the way up.