Thursday, October 11, 2007

3 October: Andrews Bald & Clingman's Dome

Wet. Drove up to Clingman's Dome, corkscrewing through intensifying fog, so that by the time I got there it was like I was inside one of those forts you make out of bedsheets and clotheslines when you're twelve. I could not see the car parked right next to me. I had planned on hiking to Andrews Bald, a short 1.8 mile each way. Alas, the first way was down down down, entirely down the rockiest trail I've ever been on. The fog kept increasing and started to be too heavy to stay fog so it turned into rain. I was already soaking wet but still: discouraging. At the 1.1 mile mark, I decided to turn back, as the rain was making the rocky trail into a rocky cascade, more creek than path. I wasn't too bummed about missing Andrews Bald, since I had been to Max Patch already and they're sort of the same thing.

When I got back to the top, I decided to get the extra mile I'd planned by hiking up the steep paved trail to Clingman's Dome. This is harder than it sounds because there are no switchbacks: it's straight up. Still...not as hard as the rocky trail I'd just bailed on. The tower at the top was completely fogged in but it was appealing in a spooky way. This trail draws a lot of people who never ever hike so there were a lot of omigod girls and duuuuude boys, bitching and moaning the whole way up the thing.

Back down the spiral ramp and down the hill and 45-minutes back to the bone-dry campground - no sign of rain, fog or even a bowl of water. I picked up a BBQ sandwich for lunch.

A little steak for dinner, along with a baked sweet potato. At exactly 8:05, twenty-two million gallons of water fell from the sky onto my tent. It rained all night long. Miraculously, the tent stayed dry but the noise of the rain on the rainfly nearly drove me insane. I ended up resorting to the pioneer methods developed by Daniel Boone and put my iPod on and finally fell asleep in the drooly-pillowed dawn hours.

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