(Daily Mi: 12.8) Hiked like a zombie today. Lots of altitude, deep notches and big humping knobs. Feel like I have been staring down the barrel of the same Tenn/Carolina roadhead 2000' down into the notch and 2000' up and out, over and over for last 3 days.
Kept it relatively short again because I am meeting Chris tomorrow night 27 miles from where I started this morning.
Freezing rain all night. My shoes and socks were fing wet and cold and I was hiking for a good twenty minutes this am before I could get my blood going. Frost and ice on the Trail first thing even though I start my hike deep in a hollow.
Started seeing lots of weekend hikers on the final steep climb to the shelter. Turned on my after-burners to make sure I got a spot -- is going to be in the teens tonight -- and sure enough passed a good eight or nine people by the time I got to the top of the ridge and the side trail to the shelter.
Claimed the second of what proved to be 8 spots in what I would deem a 6 man shelter. Just as well with the freeze coming.
Several people pitch in tents nearby. Temp hits 14° F at nighfall. Starts snowing hard just after dark as well. Windy as hell. We are at about 5,300 feet (this will be my last 5000+ night!), but the ridge is enclosed and we are surrounded by thickets of rhodedendra. Still
At about 7:30 pm, just before bed, I am pressed to the leeward most outer face of the shelter smoking a rolled cigarette as the wind howls. One of the section hikers steals out and offers me a treat, which I gratefully accept. We laugh as the snow continues to swirl and mount around us. I am wearing everything I own icluding rain pants and am sleeping everything but my shoes tonight as I bed down in my 20° bag.<br />