Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hiking in a Hurricane

10 November 2009

Hurricane IDA hit during my hike of the southern part of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  The rain came from the southwest and combined with cold wind from the northwest.  Since the Appalachian Trail runs along the main ridgeline, it gets hit hard by the weather.  Early in the morning the trail climbed to it's highest point of the entire trail, Clingmans Dome.  It was all in a cloud with rain blowing almost horizontally.  No views today.  Passing two other shelters, stopped to see who was there and to check the trail registers.  It seems that almost everyone was spending the day holed up.  Eventually the wind and rain soaked through my REI raincoat and the shirt underneath.  Only hiking fast and hard generated heat enough to keep me out of hypothermia.  At the end of the day, reached the Spence Field Shelter.  Nobody else there.  The signs and trail register warn that the area has high Bear activity.  It seems that they like the nuts that fall from the trees surrounding the shelter!  Cold and with fingers barely working, I unpack, warm up, and cook dinner.  Although the shelter has "bear cables" outside to hang food out of the reach of bears, it is hard for me to envision going outside in the intensifying storm.  Any sane bear would stay holed up and wait for better weather before foraging.  The storm raged all night and started to pass in the morning.  The food had been hung in the shelter away from mice but not bears.  Neither got my food during the night.  The following morning, put on my cold wet clothes and started hiking.

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