Maryland Outdoor Club
Fri, Jan 13 2006 - Wintertime Backpacking Trip (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Felipe Hall, Emilio Ungerfeld
Participants:Felipe Hall, Emilio Ungerfeld, Shelley Sanner, Steve Charron

Write Up:
I think that most people’s reaction to the idea of backpacking in winter would be, “Are you CRAZY? Its cold!” Six members of the MOC challenged that very idea by taking on 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail during the middle of winter. It all started harmlessly enough, on a deceivingly warm Friday night, as we met and carpooled up to the Old Forge Picnic area. Upon arrival we enjoyed a 0.2 mile night hike to the site where we would spend our first night. Early the next morning, we packed and prepared for the roughly 14 mile journey ahead of us. All took turns leading as we wound our way through the wilderness and up several successive hills. The weather turned colder, as the wind and rain began to come down. Nevertheless we were undaunted as the rain turned to sleet and then gradually stopped and the sky cleared slightly. We were content to take in the view as the miles drained away.

As we climbed the last mile before the shelter, we went through a forest of rhododendron, their thick green leaves mocking the cold weather around us. They were so thick in places that they formed a green tunnel over us as we tread onward. Upon cresting the hill, all were content to rest at really well cared for shelter, Quarry Gap.

As we arrived, the temperatures began to drop, and drop. We ate hurriedly, and set up our sleeping bags, watching the falling snow as it coated the ground around us. That night the wind whipped at the shelter with a fury that seemed to rip through the forest, eventually leaving a clear starry night sky, a full moon and a low temp of 15 degrees. But we were warm in our winter bags.

After a quick breakfast the next morning, we packed up for the next jaunt. The wind still pulled at us a little on the peaks, though nothing like the night before. The sky was clear and the sun really illuminated the surrounding area for some pretty decent winter views. We maintained the almost the same pace as the day before, arriving at Tom’s Run around mid afternoon. After setting up camp, we gathered around a campfire, and told stories of haunted privies, hiking mishaps and adventures, going to bed much later, and content with our day’s journey.

The next day was a short, yet scenic hike to the end, a fitting end to a great trip. Thanks to all the backpackers that participated. You guys truly made this a great event.

--Emilio and Felipe

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