Today was a 17.9 mile hike from Derrick Knob to Newfound Gap.
The temperature really dropped again last night in the mountains and the cold wind picked up. While a thick fog also settled in making things damp. My wet hiking shoes froze darn near solid over night. I put on a pair of dry socks and kept my feet in them a little while to soften them up. As soon as I broke camp, I had to hike to stay warm.
Had some pretty nice views during parts of the day. Clouds and fog came and went a few times during the day.
By the time I made it to Clingmans Dome (the highest point on the AT at 6658 feet), clouds blocked any views. The hike up and down Clingmans Dome was very icy and slow going. There were only 5 people at Clingmans Dome when I was there, in the most visited National Park in the Country. I later learned the road up to it does not open for another week or so.
Saw lots of different types of moss and fungi today, especially in a cedar forest at higher elevations.
I needed to get into Gatlinburg, Tennessee to get a new pair of rain pants. This morning I realized I lost them somehow, two days prior perhaps. With the cold, wind, potential for rain and my next resupply a week away, I felt I could not risk being without them with the real risk of hypothermia present in these conditions. So I will find a pair tomorrow. Not what I planned on doing, but I feel good about the decision.
In this area of the trail it goes over the Tennessee and North Carolina border a few times. It is hard to know what State I am in sometimes.
I hitchhiked 15 miles into town (Gatlinburg). It was actually my first time hitchhiking. Trail Magic! A super nice couple from Richmond, Virginia picked me up. They were on their 21st wedding anniversary. Each year they come to the Smokys for their anniversary. Had a good back a forth conversation with them.