March 14, 2017
Hiking as a couple is different than hiking alone. We had decided to visit Sarah’s parents for two days when we reached Newfound Gap. Those two days stretched to four days when snow hit the mountains and the road to Newfound Gap was closed. Now, more snow plus icy temperatures are pummeling the tops of the Smokies, so we are still waiting. Sarah’s parents are paying for our room at their retirement center, and we are helping them sort their storage unit. The arrangement gives us a work-for-stay status until temperatures in the Smoky Mountains climb back into the double digits.
It was hard for me to stay off the trail. I felt compelled to test our skills against the cold, to continue hiking no matter what. But Sarah and her parents helped me agree to the right decision. Margins for error are slim when temperatures dive to near zero. If we were to slip on snow-covered ice, or be hit by an ice-covered tree limb dislodged by the wind, it would be hard to stay warm until help arrived. It would be foolish to risk the safety of us and our potential rescuers.
When we decided to start our thru-hike in February, I assured Sarah that we would wait out the storms in towns, and hike during milder weather. Now it is time to keep that promise and to remember how lucky I am to have someone to love and to share this adventure.