Rather on a whim we decided on an overnight hike. We were planning a long day up into the Smokies to the high point of Tennessee, but then changed it to a long night instead. Good for testing out light systems for the Barkley. We parked near a ranger station at the base of the mountains in North Carolina and started up the long climb.
The first section was a constant uphill, then a middle section of flat/downhill and a couple interesting short ridge crossings. The last third was back to an uphill grind, with the added bonus of a couple inches of snow. Close to the top my legs were finally tired, so I guess it was an appropriate amount of training over the last couple days.
We popped out on the summit road (closed to cars for the winter) and had another mile or so up the road to reach the parking lot and the sidewalk to the top. Along the way we noticed this awesome ice formation that appears to have a face in it:
John walking ahead of my shadow:
The top was quite the experience on a cold windy night! Here is what the place looks like on a nice day with other people on it:
We wound up along the spiral walkway and found a little shelter behind the pole that supports the "flying saucer":
Summit photos on the fly and in a bit of a hurry:
I almost got a decent back-lit photo but forgot to turn off my headlamp, and my camera battery was really complaining about the cold so we were lucky to get as many pictures as we did:
We were certainly the only ones around at that time of night, although we saw plenty of tracks on other trails and along the AT that comes along over the top.
Our tracks from coming up, as we were starting down:
Our highpoint page for #22:
It was dawn when we reached the truck at the bottom - time for breakfast!