After an interesting, and very unique fall semester, I needed a break. I needed to go somewhere to clear my head, not think about work or school for at least a day or two, and just enjoy life for a bit. So, what better way to do all of that then go backpacking?
A couple friends and I planned to backpack 28 miles up in North Carolina/Tennessee (average a little over 9 miles a day – easy right?) last December after the Fall 2020 semester ended, but we were ill-prepared. We had all backpacked a lot before, but always in the summer when it was hot and sunny, and the worst conditions we had to go through was rain, and still easy enough to hike at least 10 miles a day. Well, this was not the case. We were prepared for cold weather, and if it began to snow or rain, we were ready for that as well. But us Georgia boys were not ready to backpack in 6 inches of snow and ice.
The beginning was really fun. It was the first time for most of us seeing real snow, and we were having a blast! However, we soon realized we were not making as quick a time as we planned, which we already had planned it pretty tight. In addition to our slow progress, it began to get pretty misty and cloudy, and made it very difficult to tell where the trail was. Eventually we reached a shelter where we ended up staying the night with 4 other people (luckily the shelter was big enough to hold all 8 of us). The couple that was there decided to leave what little comfort the shelter provided and roughed it out in a tent in the snow and freezing temperatures. Mad respect to them! It was upon reaching the shelter where we all realized just how wet our boots were, and because it had been cloudy all day, we couldn’t dry them off. Because of our slow progress, and our ill preparation of footwear, we decided to execute our Plan B, which ended our trek 16 miles shorter than what we originally planned. After eating our dinner, we hit the hay very cold and very tired.
After our hot breakfast, we packed up and were on our way. The sunrise through the trees with the snow on the ground was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The snow that was fresh from the day before was now frozen over and made hiking a lot more difficult. We slipped and slid for a majority of the entire day, but we also had some great views. It was wonderful just to be out there and not cooped up at home or in a classroom. The portion we hiked on this day was much steeper than the day before, and was honestly pretty difficult, but we managed to push through. We finally made it to our stopping point, and rode back with some newly formed acquaintances from the shelter the night before.
Once in our car we planned where to stay for the night and finished our day with some Little Caesar’s pizza. We went to bed with full bellies and happy, but tired, spirits. All in all, I would not have rather done anything else on the last days of 2020!
This was the first day, hiking through thick mist and very cloudy/overcast. Lots of snow!
This was the next morning right outside our shelter. The sun was poking through and was gorgeous!
Towards the end of our hike was this stand of elm with some evergreen trees, which had snow freeze on the needles and branches.
The same stand at a different part had the sun poke through.