|Hike Name:||Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Thunderhead Mountain|
|Trip Date:||January 27, 2007|
|Trail Conditions:||Fair to Good|
|Trail Traffic:||Light to Moderate|
|Trip Weather:||Sunny, Partly Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Cloudy, Fog|
|Trip Temperature:||High: 41-50, Low: 11-20 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Trip Report:||DeLisle was the first up this morning and boiled up some water for breakfast. By 9am, we were all on the trail with DeLisle and Ewing leading the way. Derrick Knob shelter was the scheduled lunch spot for the day, but it took us until 1:30pm to hike seven miles to the lean-to via the Appalachian Trail. The ridge walk was scenic with excellent views to the south, but not easy with the numerous ascents and descents. We had lunch with some section hikers in a field at the front of the shelter and watched the sun disappear behind the clouds. A front was moving in from the south, and the line of clouds had been closing on us since morning.
By 2:15pm we were all back on the trail for the final push (another seven miles) to Spence Field shelter. McKinney forgot his insoles and was in misery as a result. Brady hooked him up with some Advil that kicked in about an hour later. As we crossed Thunderhead and Rocky Top, the sky looked omninous with a halo around the sun and signs of snow by nightfall. The winds also kicked up and it was breezy as in the open areas on these peaks. By 6pm - about the time of sunset - we collectively reached Spence Field shelter. Brady and Goodrich got water, while DeLisle cooked dinner, and Ewing created an inferno in the recently redesigned shelter and fireplace. A massive pile of wood was generously left by the previous occupants. The wood was wet (and probably ineffective the previous day), but quickly transformed into a blast furnace by Ewing. The man is a pyro at heart. This helped significantly this evening since temps were into the teens tonight and flurries were falling by 8pm. Despite a lack of tunes, we had some drinks and hung out until about 10pm tonight. A tarp held some heat in to make the lean-to a balmy 34 degrees (although it was 18 outside).