We woke up to sleet hitting our tent, then hail and then snow. Snow! Needless to say it was a struggle to get going today. But given the choice to stay in a warm sleeping bag in a semi warm tent in the freezing weather or get up and hike, we chose hike.
We built up the courage to do the rather unpleasant task of putting on freezing wet boots, hoping that our wool socks do what wool socks do, stay warm even when they are wet. (They didn't fail us) Packing up a snowy tent in the snow was its own kind of jenga. It involved precise poncho usage and thought out order of operations.
But, after all was packed up and we had every layer on, we must say, hiking in the snow was stunningly beautiful. We didn't see another soul the whole day. It was just us and the weather. We knew people would be staying in after Tinklebell saw Emily and asked her if she was really planning on heading out in the snowy weather.
We made it to our 100 mile mark on Albert Mountain which was a pain to get to. Three words: vertical rock faces. Em joked that climbing Albert Mountain is on the list of things she shouldn't tell her mom that she did.
After Albert Mountain the terrain was soft rolling ups and downs. The dream terrain. Tyler and Em cruised at a pace of three and half miles per hour. But it felt much faster. While the terrain was simple the weather was anything but. Passing over one ridge would yield a snowy wonderland, but with Sun. The next seemed to be snowless, but globs of snow fell from the leaves of rhododendrons. The next wind and sleet. After every new ridge it seemed to change and we thought we may be stuck in some strange purgatory testing us for things to come.
After Rock Gap, we had 3.7 miles to go and the snow and wind returned in full force. Also, in typical last stretch of the day fashion, the terrain got tougher, the grades increased, and it never seemed to end. Well, it did and we made it to Winding Stair Gap. After about two minutes a car pulled up and asked if we had called a taxi. We had not. But we told him we would pay for a ride if he was heading back to Franklin if his fare never showed up. They did not, and Larry the taxi (that is a white Buick with no markings of any kind) driver gave us a ride.
At the hotel we immediately met up with Grant and Funky who were taking a day off after a nineteen mile rainy trudge the day before. We showered and headed out to gorge ourselves on delicious barbeque. We headed back to the hotel afterwards, grateful for more showers and a bed. After today's events Emily had earned the trail name Yeti.