Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Cataloochee Loop - January 12, 2006 - Member Trip Report

Hike Name: Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Cataloochee Loop
Country: United States
State: North Carolina
Trip Rating: 4 stars
Trip Date: January 12, 2006
Duration: 2 days
Trail Conditions: Excellent
Trail Traffic: None
Trip Weather: Sunny, Partly Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Cloudy
Trip Winds: Heavy
Trip Precipitation: Rain, Showers, Thunderstorms, Sleet, Snow, Hail
Trip Temperature: High: 51-60, Low: 11-20 degrees Fahrenheit
Trip Report: Thursday (1/12/06) Left the office at 5pm and drove to Moehlich's house to meet Nause, Delisle, and Brunn near REI (at I-85). After a quick beer, we hit the road for Gainesville in heavy traffic by 6:30pm. It petered out quickly and we made it to El Sombrero for the traditional MLK dinner in just over an hour. Porter and McKinney leave tomorrow morning, so it was a small crowd at the restaurant this evening. After dinner, I followed Delisle and Nause to The Lodge in Waynesville while Brunn and Moehlich pounded brews in the back seat and served up some tunes on the IPod. There was some "quality" television on HBO this evening and we had some more brews and finished packing by 1am.

Friday (1/13/06) – We were up around 6:30am this morning and drove over to McDonald's for breakfast since the eats at the Lodge were pretty sparse. Porter and McKinney showed up around 8:30am and we took my truck and Delisle's 4-Runner to the Nellie trailhead in the Catalooche area. There were four wild turkey's in the field as Delisle and I shuttled his truck about 1.5 miles to the parking area for the Rough Fork Trail, but they were gone by the time I returned with a camera. The first few miles made a moderate ascent this morning on the Pretty Hollow Gap trail for 2000 feet. We had fairly warm and sunny weather to start and were hiking in shorts and t-shirts until we took a lunch break at the gap around noon. Then the winds picked up and the storm that was forecasted to hit us at 3pm rolled in with some light rain. By 2:30pm, we were racing toward Laural Gap shelter (like we did in 2004), and the rain was heavy by the time we all were in the shelter with thunderstorms, sleet, and eventually snow falling in the area. Moehlich and Delisle muscled the picnic table through the shelter fence and it which was handy for cooking and for a 6pm game of Hold 'em (won by Brunn). We cooked some pasta after the game, stoked up a fire in the chimney, then sacked out around 11pm. The temperatures dropped significantly this evening to around 14 degrees, and the snow continued to fall after dark.



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