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Day 12 – Snowless in Tennessee 

Let me start with saying my wishful thinking that it would not freeze last night was misguided and caused me multiple problems in not preparing for yet another deep freeze in the smokeys. Waking up with a rain jacket, warm jacket, rain pants, 2 shirts and 3 pairs of socks that were so frozen they could stand up on their own was not only a shock but also yet another problem to overcome. This was one of the three major problems that faced me as I awoke in my sleeping bag a day after hiking through a rain filled day. My second problem was I had 2 meals left and no snacks for three days and my final issue was that my sleeping bag had gotten wet (damp) once again. For those unaware, a damp sleeping bag with down (feather) filling loses all of its insulation power. I was least worried about this issue as it is due to warm up, but sleeping wrapped in a wet rag is not conducive to a good nights sleep. My other two issues would be solved as I started off another day of walking. I pulled on my wet clothes and last pair of dry socks and got to hiking as quickly as I could. This warmed me up enough to tolerate the wetness and then I began the problem solving phase of my food situation. According to my guidebook, which is falling apart after getting very wet) there was a hostel about 18 miles from the tri corner shelter where I had stayed. I was hoping to get in at least one more day under 20 miles that isn’t in snow (essentially rest day) before really upping my miles and today seemed like the day to do it. The first few miles were filled with walking through slush. It was heavy water logged snow that sucked my shoes in and once again had everything below my knees wet again. With only 18 miles and little to eat there was no time for breaks so I trudged on. At about the 9 mile mark the snow finally began to fade below 5000 feet and I was soon able to log the miles I had been yearning to compile for days. With nothing between me and Standing Bear Hostel except dry trail I made quick work of the miles and soon passed under I-40 and made it to my home for the night just as more rain came in. Luckily they sold just enough food at the hostel for me to buy enough to get to Hot Springs, North Carolina. I was even lucky enough to get a shower in. Sometimes there is just nothing better than hot water.

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