BMT Day 1 – Mount Sterling

July 21, 2013
Start: Big Creek / Finish: Mt. Sterling CS 38 / Miles: 6.0 / Total: 6.0

Gene Roll the shuttle guy picked us up at the visitor center at 9:00 am. We arrived at the trail head at 12:30-ish (missed an exit) and were hiking by 1:00. It had threatened to rain the entire drive, but did not start for real until we pulled in to the parking lot.

We hiked a half mile before I started to doubt we were on the right trail – there were no blazes! Walked all the way back to the bridge, and spoke with someone who confirmed that we were going the right way. The BMT, it turns out, is not blazed through the GSMNP, only marked on sign posts. This could have been explained better, somewhere. A quarter mile in to our second start, we stopped for lunch under a rock cliff overhang. Back on the trail shortly after 2:00.

It almost didn’t rain – never quite hard enough for ponchos, and with plenty of sunny breaks to dry out. Then a couple of hours in to the hike it started to rain for real. We got soaked to the bone. At 2:45 (hike time, not clock time)I zoomed ahead, thinking I would arrive at the top soon and begin setting up. In my mind it was going to be a 3 hour hike to the summit based on my “usual” 2 miles per hour. 30 minutes later, still no sign of the summit. So I dropped my pack and went back to help Jason. I was sure he would be demoralized, but he seemed OK. We caught back up to my gear, and continued on. The rain finally let up as we arrived at Mt. Sterling at 6:15 pm. ~4+ hours of hike.

There is a youth/teen trek camping beside us – 6 tenting teens and two 20-something chaperones (in hammocks!).

It is 61 degrees – chilly in wet clothes but OK in dry. The dry sacks failed – my down sleeping bags got pretty wet. At least the clothes are dry. I feel like I failed somewhat by not being properly prepared for the rain and temps. Long johns and better rain gear management was needed. Could use some of my cold weather kit right now – not gloves, but long johns and a watch cap would be great. Camp site is nice – have not gone up on the tower yet.

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