|Hike Name:||Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Thunderhead Mountain|
|Trip Date:||January 28, 2007|
|Trail Conditions:||Fair to Good|
|Trail Traffic:||Light to Moderate|
|Trip Weather:||Sunny, Partly Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Cloudy, Fog|
|Trip Winds:||Light to Moderate|
|Trip Temperature:||High: 31-40, Low: 11-20 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Trip Report:||DeLisle was eager to get going this morning, and lobbied hard for the rest of us to get out of the bags by 8:30am. He boiled up some water, and we packed up and hit the trail within an hour. About an inch of snow fell last night which made for some decent pics on the ridge this morning. We hiked about 0.2 miles back to the Bote Mountain Trail, then descended over 3000 feet to Laurel Creek Road mostly on an old road that was cut almost to the ridgeline. It snowed on us the entire descent with DeLisle, Ewing and McKinney in the front of the pack and Brady, Brunn, and Goodrich about 15 minutes behind them.
At Laurel Creek Road, we all stuffed six people into McKinney's pick-up, popped a few beers, and headed back to Elkmont to retrieve DeLisle (aka "The Man's") truck. As we returned to the Sugarland Visitor's center, we discovered that Newfound Gap was open only to four-wheel drive vehicles or those carrying chains. After flashing the ranger "4" fingers, we were waved through and began sliding our way up to the gap. (McKinney's truck is actually two-wheel drive) This saved us a 1 1/2 hour detour home and gave us time to stop in Cherokee at an Indian restaurant. We were back in Atlanta by 6pm tonight with McKinney and DeLisle behind the wheel.