Well that about sums up our Grand Spring Break Vacation.
Hold on… rewind a few weeks. Nursing school was wearing thin on my nerves, 16 weeks of curriculum condensed into 8 weeks. 2 days a week of clinical rotations spread over 3 counties in mountainous Western North Carolina. My husband, child, dog, home… all needing my attention. I NEED a vacation. Spring Break in the Appalachian Mountains… here we come A.T.
I have been dying to test our gear on the trail. Shrek has been able to log much more time on the trail than I have due to school obligations. I was busting at the seams to go. The plan was to park one car at NOC and the other at Fontana. Off we go… packed for 4 days on the A.T. Shrek, Fiona, & Donkey, a stalwart team on a whirlwind adventure. Donkey, by the way, is Brutus’ trail name. (although Shrek likes to call him Bear Snack)
Moving on… Late start (Fiona’s fault)…other than that, everything seems to be running smoothly.
Cars are stationed, packs on our backs, and we hit the trail. Donkey is doing great with his pack, he is off his lead, and securely hiking between Shrek & I. It was cold but you could not tell walking Straight Up with 30 lbs. on your back. The snow was thin and most areas of the trail were muddy from melted snow. The snow became thicker almost immediately upon seeing our last hiker come through. It was a picturesque winter wonderland; shimmering icicles and snowflake laden trees. It was simply beautiful and the temperature was “feeling” perfect.
After climbing steadily for an elevation gain of 2,000 feet and only covering 2.5 miles, the sun was sinking beyond the mountains signaling time to make camp. We were approaching a campsite near Walker Gap that had a nice stream for water… perfect. We set up our hammocks and it was time to unveil my newest DIY project… Hammock Compatible Sleeping Bags…. TADA !!!!! I had some old bags leftover from the kids’ slumber party days so I fashioned them into bags for the hammocks as a test run prior to investing in goose down for the final DIY. (Shrek sewed his own)…
Moving on… we made dinner, did a little star-gazing, and were in our hammocks before 8:00pm; frozen solid by 8:15pm. After many declarative terms we broke camp. We were back to the car by 1:00am. I left the bags in the garbage cans at the shuttle phone / restrooms for Fontana Dam. All in all Spring Break over quicker than it began.
Mistake #1 – elevation charts v. starting time v. mileage to1st shelter
Mistake #2 – believing that we know more about weather than Mother Nature
Mistake #3 – not paying heed to Facebook postings concerning hikers being cold from all the snow and crappy weather.
Are you seeing a pattern?