Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 75 (22 miles)
Today was extremely tough and challenging and at the same time beautiful and rewarding.
Yesterday’s storm dropped about 2ft of snow at the cabin we were staying at. A rather lot and it will keep us entertained for quite a long time.
We finished packing up at sunrise and plowed into the snow. I had a ball during this morning session. I was knee deep in powdery snow, with blue sky and a subtle sunrise. I could not be happier.
We took it in turns over the next couple of hours leading, and this would become our go-to as the day got progressively harder. Initially we started off taking long goes breaking trail, but adjusted this to shorter intervals and even shorter in difficult terrain.
We arrived at a road into town and headed in. This stop was not planned, but we are unable to make the miles we planned in the snow, and in addition the storm and extra work required to walk has sent our energy requirements into overdrive.
Back on trail we found the going a little easier in the valley with half the snowpack. It was also home to the boardwalks over marshland. We were in the middle of a town yet still found the route rather interesting and unique for this trail.
Once the boardwalks finished, it was time for our true test. It was only 6 miles but ended up taking almost 5 hours.
The first stage was a steep 1,000ft (300m) climb back into the mountains. We were lucky that someone had come through snowshoeing earlier in the day. It was tough, slow and resulted in a few trips, but we got to the top.
From here to the shelter we experienced sections of waste deep snow above the usual 1-2ft, and that extra depth made it agonizingly slow. The person ahead would have to push through the snow while the people behind just looked on in amusement and laughter. It also meant we could not keep our 1.5 mile/hr pace.
It was constant work. Even if I was at the back of the line “resting”, I was still working way harder than a normal 3 mile/hour stroll along the AT. Balance was always an issue as well, it was so easy to step on an unseen rock and slip over (even if it was onto the plush snow).
Arriving at the shelter we were all so incredibly tired, yet surprisingly we we’re all still positive. We were all sore in unusual places from the odd walking pattern required. I also have a slight strain in my knee.
With no melt in the forecast, snowshoes might help us out a bit!