July 22, 2013
Start: Mt. Sterling CS 38 | Finish: McGee Spring CS 44 | Miles: 14.2 | Total: 20.2
AM Reflections –
- Yesterday: Based on my calculations, add 10-12 minutes per mile when climbing
- Last night’s low was 58, 73 high
- This Am: Up at 6:45 – missed the actual sunrise, but climbed the fire tower for the spectacular 360 degree view of the Smokies. Smoke filled valleys. Partly cloudy, medium ceiling.
- Hoping for a dry warm day
12:00 – 1:30 – Lunch break at Laurel Gap shelter. Very nice large shelter. No rain, but sporadic sun. Cool and cloudy otherwise. 65 degrees. We’ve seen 2 NoBos* so far. The teen group went back to bed after the sunrise tower climb. We got an 8:45 start.
6:20 pm – Rough afternoon. 2 hour / 4 mile descent followed by a 3 mile climb through pure mud. At least the trail maintainers have been here recently, but it’s ankle deep in most places. At -30 minutes** Jason asked me – or allowed me – to “zoom” – hike ahead at my own pace. I made it to the top of the climb in +10 . Waiting to see where Jason comes in.
On top of this add 0.9 miles to our day, since the camp site is off on a side trail. Long day, all said and done.
We had 20 minutes of hard rain about 1 hour after lunch.
Jason is working on some blisters on his big toe, walking in wet socks all day. At least the rest of us is fairly dry.
It is going to get dark too soon to do much but set up camp.
Writing the next day: Wow. No sooner did Jason catch up and we embarked on the last 0.9 to the camp site, then the clouds opened up on us. Jason caught up a little after 7:00. It had been getting darker in a sinister way, even though we had over an hour till sunset. By the time we made it to the camp site we were drenched through, despite our (in hindsight sorely inadequate) rain gear.
We set up tarps first, then had to jerry rig the poncho to extend Jason’s undersized tarp. We ate in the dark, and while the rain did lighten up around sunset, it continued off & on through the night. Our gear was a wet pile under the hammock, no chance to get anything dry.
* NoBo – North bound hiker
** Meaning 30 minutes to go in our 90 minute leg between breaks. My “method” is to hike in 90 minute legs, with pack-off, sit-down breaks at the intervals. This approximates to 3 miles, and helps break the day in to manageable chunks.