NPS Centennial: Snowy Adventure on the Appalachian Trail



We had entered the park under clouds and wet, frozen fog. My partner, Turbo, and I left Cosby Knob Shelter around 9:30 a.m., which not exactly an alpine start, and set off into the chilly damp. As we gained in elevation, the snow got deeper and made for slow going. Often, we would fall through the crunchy top layer and sink into deeper soft snow beneath. Then things got interesting…

GSMNP-2-Scott-2.jpgSections of the trail in the Smokies are truly on the ridgetop with steep drops on both sides. The storm of 2 days ago had downed dozens of trees that blocked the trail. We were soon moving at a snail’s pace. Darkness fell. The temperature dropped. With head lamps on, Turbo and I crawled between branches, passing our back to each other, and started to move again only to encounter another tree!

We were both nearing exhaustion when things cleared a bit and we enjoyed a few minutes of hiking in the moonlight. Trudging uphill, I saw a faint side trail… Could it be? Against the clouds, I saw the outline of a structure! It was Icewater Spring Shelter. I screamed out of pure elation. Turbo and I hugged and high-fived. We were totally spent, but overjoyed to find our home for the night. It was 7:30 p.m. We had hiked 20.4 miles in the nastiest conditions imaginable.

GSMNP-2-Scott-3.jpegThis remains my favorite day of my thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail and it was one of my best hiking days of all time. Nine days later, we summited Springer Mountain on a cool and clear day.

- Scott, Mast Store Asheville





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