Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 42 (22 miles)
It snowed last night and I did not even know it! I woke up to about an inch of snow in the valley. Today is going to be a good day.
I packed up excitedly and started the climb up to the Priest Mountain range. It was a steep climb up to the top of around 3,000ft (1,000m). There was no flat ground all day. Once I was up in the range it was up and over one peak just to do the same thing for the rest of the day.
As I climbed the temperature dropped considerably. I started off the day just below freezing but the air temperature cooled off and I finished the day around 10F (-12C). I normally feel comfortable at this temperature but today was a little unusual with 40 mile/hr winds and therefore massive wind-chill, with a real feel of -14F(?) (-25C). The trail kept on crossing from the sheltered side of the mountain to the exposed and back again. I went from hot to cold and back again all day long! I eventually settled on being cold in the wind in order to stop the constant clothing changes.
The strong wind also created 6 inch wind drifts all along the trail. It seemed to clear the surrounding area and dump it on the trail for some awesome, but tiring, opportunity to break trail for most of the day.
My war against the wind did make the day fly by. I did have some great views along the way. There was a mile stretch of bald ridgeline (treeless) that offered stunning views. I was surprised to see a couple of women out for a stroll through this section. This breaks the formula of only seeing people on pleasant weather days. They did want to sit there and chat to me all comfortable in their thick coats. We talked until the pain in my hands became rather high and forced me to move on.
Before I knew it I had arrived at the Priest Mountain shelter. I was cold and jumped into bed to watch the epic full moon rise. It was so bright that it never really got dark and hesitantly set my alarm for 3.30am for a bit of night hiking.
p.s I could only feel a slight pain in my foot but taking it easy the last 3 days seems to be doing the trick!