|Hike Name:||Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Thunderhead Mountain|
|Trip Date:||January 25, 2007|
|Trip Temperature:||High: 41-50, Low: 11-20 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Trip Report:||Thursday (1/25/07) - Made it back to the house from work by 4:45am this afternoon. Played with the dog, loaded the car and had a few beers until Brady (aka The Operator) showed up at 5:15pm. The original plan was to meet at McKinney's house this evening, but Brady and Goodrich pulled an audible and drove down to Brunn's in Buckhead to leave a car. Porter was there when we arrived and he hauled us all to Pancho's on Buford Highway for the traditional pre-drive Mexican dinner. Porter is out this year with a baby due on Monday, but joined us for a few beers. We finished up by 7pm, and with the late departure had very little traffic to Gatlinburg. McKinney and DeLisle took the wheel tonight, and we arrived at the Best Western in Gatlinburg by 10:30pm (after a brief stop at Newfound Gap which clocked in at 19 degrees tonight). By 1:30am, the group was packed up and sacked out for the night - including Brunn - quite possibly a new record.
Friday (1/26/07) - Took a 6:30am wake-up call, and ended up at the McDonalds for breakfast after our local dining spot got overrun by a crowd from a tour bus. Brunn replaced his lost flashlight with some blue/yellow finger lights (cherished by the elementary school crowd), then we drove to the Elkmont trailhead to start a nearly fourteen mile hike. DeLisle and Ewing shuttled trucks to Laurel Creek Road and started an hour behind Brady, Brunn, Goodrich, and McKinney. The first 8-9 miles were well-graded along an old logging railbed that followed the Little River (via the Little River Trail) to Goshen Prong and Campsite #23 where we took a lunch break. DeLisle and Ewing caught up with us as we finished our food, then the ascent got more difficult as we approached the A.T. and ridge line of the Smokies. Brady and Goodrich reached Double Spring shelter by 4pm, followed by the others by 5pm. After a colorful sunset, the temps dropped quickly to the teens. We stoked up a fire (with some help from the MSR stove) and huddled around it the rest of the night.