Just before we arrived, the upper elevations of the Park got hit with a super-heavy snow event. Up to three feet on the highest peaks. We began the trip in Smokemont (where there was almost no snow at all), climbed up the spine of the ridge where we spent the evening in a trail shelter. Then we were supposed to have camped on the summit of LeConte (eleation 6,594 feet). But the snow was so deep that we just got physically worn down from post-holing in the deep drifts. That really tires you out.
Thus, about a mile short of the summit, we had to make camp in the forest or else get caught in the dark. Sleeping on packed snow was the most uncomfortable camping experience that I can recall. I didn't get cold because I had lots of insulation beneath me and was using a down bag. But the ice formed steel-hard ridges under me and made sleeping an adventure in pain management.
At any rate, enjoy very old photos of a very young me backpacking in deep snow when the weather should have been much warmer.
|The days of the old instamatic film cameras. Digital cameras weren't even a gleam in some computer geek's eyes at that point.|
|Checking my trail guide as we made our way out. I think this was at the junction of The Boulevard and the Appalachian Trail. It was all downhill from here to Newfound Gap.|