11-10-12

Days since my thruhike began: 206
AT miles hiked today: 10.9
Total AT miles hiked: 1849.5
Miles to complete my thruhike: 334.7

I'm using my tent as a windbreak in Rock Spring Hut. I hiked up to the Stony Man Overlook, using crampons to get traction on the packed snow. They do help quite a bit and I was happy to have them. There were people everywhere, so I knew it was a weekend. They wanted to talk and ask questions and give us advice, and we both like to stop and talk, and it's nice to know how many people are interested in and inspired by what I'm doing, but talking slowed us down.

We got to the Skyland Resort in the late afternoon and headed south from there toward the shelter. It got dark at about 5:30pm and the trail suddenly headed up a mountain, and was completely covered with packed snow. My trekking poles sank a couple of feet into the snow on the side of the trail because I don't have snow/mud guards on them. I could see the city lights down to the right from the ridge I was hiking. I was cold, but sometimes gusts of warmer wind would blow on me. Above me, to the left, I could see lights from cars on Skyline drive and once I heard teenage voices and music. A party?

Most of the time it was dark and quiet other than the crunch and squeak of snow under my shoes and my own breathing. There were also the coyotes who sounded quite close when they howled and sang. Eagle Eye wondered if they might eat us but I said we were fine as long as we were healthy and could chase them off with our trekking poles, but the coyotes never got that close. I love my new, knee-high gaiters. I used all my new gear today, and it all worked well. I'm so grateful to have the right gear for winter hiking.