10-18-09 day 138
start: Mountaineer Shelter, TN
end: Overmountain Shelter, TN/NC
daily mileage: 18.0
total mileage: 1799.3
It was a super cold night again... we seriously need to get some gloves, and Sea Monster really wants some tights. Sea Monster used the tarp over his sleeping bag to keep him warm. We're putting in 18 miles today (on the 18th) to get to Overmountain shelter, which is at 1,800 miles! It was cold hiking, but we could see beautiful snowy peaks all day. We had several moments where it seemed like autumn ended and winter began, which was really incredible. Looking around, the leaves were all the beautiful autumn colors but the trees were now totally coated in ice and frost. It was very beautiful.
Sea Monster and I had taken longer than the rest of the group to cook lunch (as before, they're eating only cold lunches) so they waited for us and we all regrouped just below treeline for the epic climb over Hump Mountain. It was freaking cool... windchill must have been 10 degrees or so, it was FREEZING and we were in blizzard-like conditions with the high winds and snowfall. We sang christmas carols as we crossed it and got some really magnificient views. When we got to the top of the mountain, we met a wizard there... seriously, he must have been a kindly wizard. He was just standing up there waiting for us as we climbed, and then chatted with us for a while, told us the state of the shelter a mile further on, and accepted our thanks as we left him atop his icy mountain fortress.
When we got to the shelter we met about a dozen college kids who had (thankfully) already started a fire, and so we thawed out. Fortunately for us, the shelter is one of the best on the AT (it's on the cover of one of the guidebooks). A converted barn, it has an upper loft area that is totally enclosed and kept us out of the wind. We chilled with the college students for a while, and they gave us hot dogs (woot!). They say it will warm up a bit tomorrow, though tonight should be our coldest night yet.