Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 27 (16 miles)
At 7.30 I woke up at Woodchucks Hostel in Damascus to the owner making waffles and eggs. Last night I felt some liquid drip down from the balcony above and splash against me. It is always nice that hiking problems follow me inside! I’m not 100% sure but it might have been dog pee from a young dog staying with its owner upstairs.
I spent the morning procrastinating, not wanting to go out into the cold. I had a shower, talked with the others in the hostel. One of them is still heading south and another doing a couple of sections he slipped during his thru hike last year.
I finally starting packing up just after lunch and with a bit more convincing, I got myself outside. To my surprise the weather was excellent; sunny, just around freezing and no wind. I should have left earlier!
I went to the grocery store with the section hiker and then started walking out of town. I took the alternative along the Creeper Trail as I had heard good things about it. It was rather stunning following the river with everything around it dusted in snow, but I knew I made the wrong decision. The AT skirted the ridge above and in these conditions been a winter paradise.
I followed the river for 4 miles until the trails joined. And when they split I took the AT and climbed the 1000ft (300m) onto the ridge. Without wind, the forest was almost as good as yesterday, the highlight being snow clinging to all the leaves and branches. I have to say a light snowfall is so beautiful! I was also surprised that I was the only footprints around.
I dropped off the ridge back down to the river as the sun began to set. After a short time trying to watch the sunset behind me, I climbed back into the mountains in search of my shelter for the night.
It was equally nice walking through the snow at night as I watched the glittering reflection from my headlight.
I arrived at the shelter and then felt disappointed that I did not get a full day of hiking in.
After sitting around in bed for half the day I was not overly tired as I lay in bed. Long night; the biggest downside of winter.