Saturday, January 3, 2009

Winter Backcountry in the Smoky Mountains

Started off the new year with a 6 day, 5 night backcountry camping trip in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We completed a circuit of roughly 70 miles, hitting some of the highest peaks in the park and traveling along part of the Appalachian Trail. It was definitely grueling at times, usually hiking from sunrise till dusk on wet, rocky trails.

We experienced a wild variety of weather. Some parts of the day it was warm enough to wear nothing but t-shirt and other times temperatures dropped to the low teens. It might be snowing with brutal winds on one side of a mountain and clear and calm on the other.

Along with the indefatigable Lisa from Team Sisu we leaped over Mount LeConte, the third highest mountain in the park at 6,593 feet, forged our way through heavy winds on icy, narrow ridge tops, and evaded a growling black bear hiding in a thicket of Rhododendron (no kidding). A great way to kick off the year!

Me on The Boulevard Trail

Map of the route

Some more photos from the trip are up on my new Flickr stream.

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