About a month ago I hiked up to Mt. LeConte in the Smoky Mountains. This was Jan 7-10. After an awesome snow hike at Shining Rock, we wanted to go back and do another snow hike. So we planned out the trip, did a lot of research on winter gear, and headed on up into North Carolina. I'll be posting about this trip in a 17-part series, starting with this image.
So we decided to drive on up on Thursday so that we could start early Friday morning. We drove up to the mountains, only to run into a rockslide on I-40 in the snow so we had to backtrack to Asheville and go all the way around the park. Instead of coming up 441 from the south, we had to loop around and come down from Gatlinburg. The drive wound up being a good 6 or 7 hours and we got in way later than expected, closer to 2am actually. We'd checked in at the ranger station and headed over to the trailhead to go set up camp.
On the way to the trailhead, we had to tackle a snowed in road and our car wound up getting stuck up a hill. haha... we wound up having to dig snow away from the car so that we could turn it around and go back down. Keep in mind it's the middle of the night. We found a little parking area to pull off on and even though you're not allowed to camp there, we decided to camp there for safety reasons and so we set up our tents at 3am, pulled our two vehicles around the tents to act as weather barriers and slept for a few hours.
Around 9:30am or so as we're breaking camp and getting everything put away and set up for the day's hike, a ranger pulls up. A snow plow had come by at 4am and spotted us and called us in. Long story short, the ranger wrote us a ticket for $75 for camping in an illegal area. He was nice about not giving us all a ticket, but oh well, heh. Good way to start off a trip, eh? :p With 4 of us to split the cost of the ticket, it was no big deal so we kept going.
We finally pulled our cars back to another parking area and started hiking back up the road we had gotten stuck on the previous night. It's the one pictured here, but the picture here is the morning after when the snow plow had come through. The hike up this road to the trailhead was maybe a mile or two and provided a great opportunity to try out my new Stabilicers which are basically strap-on snow cleats for your shoes. They provide much better traction than just the sole of your boots without the full-on girth of a real crampon. I really enjoyed 'em.