How do I begin to explain the Smokies. First, I don’t know if I have the enough adjectives to describe the vast beauty. The picturesque views do not only last for a minute, it last for approximately 70 miles. With every summit, I would mumble the same words, “Are you kidding me?” “Wow!”
In the beginning, I thought it would take 6 days to get thru it. Many former hikers suggested that I should prepare for the worst which consisted of snow, sleet, ice and wind. I knew they where much more knowledgeable than me, so that is what I planned for, the worse!
Beef up the Gear
I knew I needed to carry extra food. As I would be climbing mountains that would be over 5500 feet I knew I would be exerting a lot of energy, and food is energy. Food is also weight, and pounds is pain when it’s on my back. I bought extra snacks and of course, coffee.
I also needed to carry extra warm gear. Therefore, at Fontana Dam I bought a shirt and many hand warmers. I distinctly remember some guy in the store saying, “You from Maine? You want need hand warmers”. Anyway, I decided to continue with my plan and I bought six packages. I am well aware that when my hands get too cold they become dead weight, it’s hard for me to do the smallest tasks. I didn’t want this to happen so hand-warmer weight was worth it.
Respect for the Elements
The first night I was extremely tired. I was actually too tired to even cook therefore, I opened up my good ole, yet might I add delicious “dry tuna”. I really just needed something to give me calories to keep warm through the night. Fail! I froze, the Smokies decided to dish out a nice little cold snap. The temperature had dropped to 15 degrees which was followed by the mountain winds. I thought to myself, “Shoot, this is only the first night”. As I shivered in my tent, I decided to revise my six day Smokies plan.
Plan of Attack
The only way to get out of bad weather when I am on the AT is to go thru it and get out of it. After waking up every morning to my water purification lines frozen, I kept thinking, “Tomorrow it will be warmer!”
Unfortunately, the Smokies decided to share another storm that consisted of high wind gusts and ice covered trails. I decided to just hike, I knew if I moved two things would happen; I’d be warmer and closer to the end, so that is what I did.
I wanted to stay in the Smokies because of its beauty, but I had to say “Goodbye”. After hiking in the pitch dark, stumbling into blow downs and trying to thaw my fingers it was time to bolt. I prayed that God would sustain my body to push through the 70 miles in 3 1/2 days, and He did. Thank you, Jesus!
Though I will not forget what these mountains taught me, I am happy to be on the other side. I now know when I think I am maxed beyond limits, Gods super natural strength will always get me through.
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