On days that I know in advance are going to be challenging, I like to plug into my iPod for distracting/ motivating music. I normally hike without music.
Tuesday was scheduled to be ugly. It was the fifth and last day of a very wet nor’easter. The forecast called for heavy rain turning to freezing rain and then blowing snow. I had 16 miles on the docket.
On days like this, I like to put my head down and go until I reach my destination, stopping only when absolutely necessary to eat a candy bar or when nature calls. Definitely an iPod kind of day.
As iPod serendipity would have it, the first song up on shuffle play was “Psychotic reaction.” My iPod has a sense of humor I thought as I climbed higher and the wind howled. Little did I know.
First up was Unaka Mountain. It summit is a unique spruce eco system frosted in ghostly white.
Unfortunately the trail bed flooded eight inches deep as the rain and snow melted. This forced me to bushwack off to the side. That trail could use some water bars to drain the river and retard the erosion.
An hour later, as I encountered a snow-encrusted scene straight out of “Dr. Zhivago,” my trusty iPod crooned “A summer time when the living is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.”
Now that’s hilarious I thought. The only thing. colored white around here isn’t cotton, that’s for sure. That is about as incongruous as it gets. I smiled and hiked on.
There is only one photo from that day because this time I was wearing mittens! My hands were toasty unlike in the smokies.
Ever try to manipulate an iPhone camera with ice encrusted Goretex mittens? It’s impossible. I did get one snap when I stopped for a quick bite.
My clothing was biggest reason for keeping moving. I was wearing a Columbia ‘Omni Heat’ base layer topped by rain gear. Moving generated enough heat to remain comfortable.
Stopping equalled rapid cooling unless I quickly dawned extra layers. Since I was coated in snow and ice, stopping wasn’t much of an option. The additional layers were at hand if needed though.
I kept checking my water for freezing. At about 3 p.m. I noticed slush forming so I tucked my bottle inside my rain jacket and pushed ahead.
I reached Greasy Creek at 4, a half hour ahead of schedule and enjoyed a very pleasant night as the only guest at the hostel there. All-in-all, a very good day.