Sat, Jan 13 2018 - Last Minute Changes for Misery & Pain (View Original Event Details)|
It was an epic adventure, even with the last minute changes. As we all experienced a dramatic drop in temps in the SE we had to switch gears from our State High Point backpacking trip to Newfound Gap (to hit Clingmans Dome) then over to Double Spring Shelter for the what would have been an amazing feat! But when mother nature gives the GSMNP's an emergency road closure you take that as a sign to stick closer to home.
We had a few drops at the last minute so it left us with 4 brave souls that would make the trip from Mansell Rd P&R to Wody Gap. There we were greeted with a wintery combination of beauty and awe. The winds were hitting us face on right away as we headed NoBo toward Blood Mountain. Mara said "that was the freakiest start to a hike she's ever experienced." The wind cut through your layers like a hot knife to butter, but once we got beyond that first mile (Preachers Rock, see photos...coming soon) all was good Stefan and Brian made it all business while Mara & myself had to stop to photo document the amazing landscapes. It was truly a sight to see.
We drop some of our things off at the Woods Hole shelter (WHS) and set up a 4 season tent (that was much needed when 16+ folks decided to crash the shelter later in the day). We then headed back up the AT to summit Blood Mountain and take some surreal photos of the scenery and the Blood Mountain shelter, and the spot where the Highpoint Brass placard was "supposed" to be...crooks! From there we took a quick selfie and headed back to WHS for a hot cuppa joe & cocoa!
That was about the time "Mara Tree" stalker went into overdrive collecting and harvesting tons of fire wood. We had help from our new friends that took over the shelter sleeping area (Jake, Wes & Free Bird) as the trail saws we all in action Stefan, Brian, George and Jake assembled a combination of frozen logs, twigs and tree trunks that only a "cheater" could light...but there was fire and we used every inch of it...I even cooked two Filet Mignon, broccoli and portabella soup...everyone ate like champs...the temps, conditions and pace you had too. I personally burned 5,097 calories Saturday alone.
Now comes time for sleep...or not! All I can say here is, I had to meditate to help over come the claustrophobia of Stefan's 4-season, 2-person (made into a 4-person last night) tent. I think Brian slept the best, or at least he didn't complain about it, but Mara made it clear that she only got about 90 minutes of sleep...I couldn't tell tho because today on the way out, she seemed to have endless energy.
As we packed up in the morning and hit the trail Brian & Stefan were all business as they blazed SoBo like a freight train...we did run into 16 other lovely AOC'ers at Preachers which was always nice to see, but the meeting was short as we were all craving some hot coffee & chow from the Kroger on 19...Brian drove like a champ eating half of a sliced avacado and we're still thanking him for his efforts as the driver! Bravo mate, thanks again!
Anyway, it was an unforgettable trip and I look forward to REPOSTING my State Highpoint hiks/backpacking events...so be on the look out going forward!!
George "a.k.a Spring Chicken or Horhay (take your pick, LOL)