Nina Baxley: Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker

Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), Wesser, NC

Date: December 11, 2000
Location: Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), Wesser, NC
Miles Hiked: 2,033
Miles Remaining: 134.1

In my Harpers Ferry update, I wrote about how I woke up that last morning of the ALDHA Gathering to cold and snow. There, I had an experience that I don't often have in Louisiana: NUMB FINGERS. For people who live in colder climates, this is no big deal. Not for me! I sat in the back of Landslide and FurTrapper's car, thinking to myself,"I won't make it to Springer if my hands are going to have to be this cold!"

Well, my hands—and feet—have been that cold—and colder—numerous times since then. I got COLD in the Smokies! Indeed, the cold weather has been my biggest challenge yet.

My first morning in the Smokies, I woke up at Tri-Corner Knob Shelter after a relatively sleepless night—I hadn't slept because I was shivering all night. Even with a fleece liner, my 20-degree bag wasn't warm enough to keep me comfortable.

That morning, my water, which I had kept in the stuff sack I use as a pillow, was frozen. My boots, too, were frozen solid, despite my having kept them wrapped in a plastic bag at the bottom of my sleeping bag all night. Even my shoelaces were frozen! It took me 30 minutes just to get my boots on, and I couldn't tie them until after I'd hiked several hours, when the shoelaces thawed out and became more malleable.

But my fingers and toes felt the most frozen of all! I couldn't feel either, and that made walking around and packing up a bit difficult. In fact, it took me more than two hours to get ready that morning.

It was 13 degrees on my thermometer. Not the ideal weather situation for a Louisiana girl! [MORE. . .]


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »