We arrived at Sassafras Gap shelter mile 143.7 at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, March 13. It started raining shortly after we got our tents set up and dinner finished. Rain turned to sleet pretty quickly and then to snow all night long and into the next day. It was another restless night of little sleep for me, but I was warm and comfortable in my sleeping bag and tent. This was partially due to the fact that I bought a sleeping bag liner at Nantahala Outdoor Center. The liner for the sleeping bag gave me an additional 20° protection. With this additional protection, my sleeping bag is good to 10°. Trying to eat my oatmeal this morning standing in 3″ of with snow and more still coming down was no fun. 😦
We had skipped Dick’s Gap (mile 69.3) to Winding Stair Gap (mile 109.5) and Winding Stair Gap to Nantahala Outdoor Center (mile 137.1) for a total of 67.8 miles in order to outrun the weather!
Instead, we learned the hard lesson that you cannot out smart or out hike Mother Nature. This was a significant snowstorm and the weather forecast isn’t any better for the rest of the week. So after spending the night in the snow and hiking all day Tuesday in the snow, SlimTim and I decided to end our hike at Stecoah Gap, mile 150.5. Because of other obligations, we needed to finish our hike before the 23rd of March. By the time the cold weather and aftermath of melting snow clears it will be too late complete the hike as we planned, from Unicoi Gap to Fontana Dam.
I realize that we cannot control the weather and we erred by thinking that we would have 10 to 12 days of clear weather to accomplish this hike. When this picture was taken we were both very cold, hungry and weary! But on a sunny note, it was nice to team up with my buddy SlimTim through two more snow storms and to get a few more miles on the A T!
SlimTim and I will meet up this summer when we join my brothers-in-law and our cousins Alan and Beth for a corvette trip through the Wisconsin Dells. No sleeping bags allowed and here’s hoping there’s no snow in July!