Day 21

Double Spring Gap shelter to Newfound Gap – 10.8 miles
206.8 / 1978.5

After 2 straight days of rain we heard it was supposed to clear up. It did, after snowing about a foot. We woke up to freezing temps again, and the snow had actually blown UP the walks, over it, and all over our bags and clothes. I managed to melt a shoelace by the fire, step in the stream before leaving, so my feet were soaked, before stepping out into the 20’s, and fresh powder.

But how beautiful!! The pines were all covered in white, even the sides of the trees, there was no path, no trail to follow, no white blazes to see, and we had the highest peak on the trail to climb, with 10 miles to go. Most people just danced around trying to warm up, hoping someone else would go first. The German kid went for it!

We left around 10 in small groups, I must have taken a hundred pictures on the way. We got to Clingmans Dome at noon (3 miles in 2 hours). The wind was whipping, the views were spotty (when the clouds weren’t blasting 40 miles into you) but it was the definition of back county beautiful. We had lunch at Clingmans Dome, and realized we still had just over 7 miles to go and the going was tough.

When the snow melted in flatter areas it turned to mud slush puddles. My feet were saturated. When it wasn’t melted, it was around 2 feet and it was easy to lose the poles. But what a unique experience! I’ll remember this day of hiking for the rest of my life. This trail can be like that, it will be a terrible day and you just can’t wait for it to be over, and the next day will be one if your best!

Once at Newfound Gap, I was dreary, wet, tired, hungry, and low and behold, there was Jimmy who slack packed us into Fontana dam. He offered us a dr pepper (yessssss) and a free 15 mile ride to Gatlinburg. He gave us some great advice about hot springs, which I took note!

Once in Gatlinburg, I ordered an entire large pizza and murdered it solo. I was still hungry. It was good to sleep in a bed after the last 3 soaking wet cold days.

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About shwayze23jbj
Live for the outdoors

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