Last couple of months in the SE mountains

8:46 a.m. on February 20, 2018 (EST)
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It's been a crazy end and beginning of the year for life (moving cities), work deadlines, etc so I haven't managed any full trip reports but did keep squeezing in trips here and there.  A quick summary in photos mostly:

December was crazy busy so I mostly put in long day hikes about 30 minutes from the house - Pilot Mountain State Park (NC) - this monadnock (for all you geologists or at least something to google!) rises a couple of thousand feet out of the piedmont hills and is a distinctive feature of our foothills even from a distance:


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My trips were from pleasant (not too warm in the 50s) down to cold (teens and snow).The big peak below, can't climb it though.


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There is some decent climbing elsewhere (based on the number of folks hanging off these rocks in better weather).


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But few folks were out this weekend (10-20 degrees and windy!).


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January and February I managed a couple of trips to my new "back yard" of Grayson Highlands/Mount Rogers VA to do some weekend trips in foul weather - testing gear and training/narrowing my kit down for the upcoming trip across Scotland.

First trip I rushed up there with a forecast of 3-6 inches of snowfall.  There was already a decent amount on the ground.


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Views were hit and miss as the fog rolled in.
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Had a great trip - started out around 10 degrees but actually got warmer.  The snow forecast was off (as usual) so ended up with a foot or so.  Some before and after shots of the highland ponies...


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And my snow storm camp site - found a wind blown clear area to set up and test the Tarptent Stratospire 1 - a foot of powdery snow with gusts up to 40 mph.


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A great test of my gear and the TT.  But Scotland is much more likely to rain, so last weekend I went back out for 2 days of rain, sleet, and wind.

Trail or stream?  Let's say both this weekend as this was a common sight:
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Lots of white-out conditions up top but most of the snow was gone.  There's a Trailspace Cap under there somewhere - works perfect to keep my hood where I want it.


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Temps weren't bad - went into the low 20s but the wind sustained around 20 and gusted up to 30 mph.  Lots of ice falling off the trees.


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I camped in a pretty open spot the last night - the Stratospire's 2 giant vestibules came in handy as the wind did an about-face in the night so I cooked on one side at dinner and the other in the morning.


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After 2 days of rain, Sunday was a nice hike out.  Decided to switch socks as these didn't look that warm or comforting first thing in the morning at about 20 deg F.


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I almost prefer the half-shrouded views...just something about them.


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A weekend off the trail coming up (but a trip to a BnB with my wife!) then I'll be back on the trail after finishing up a couple of gear reviews.  Hope you all get some good winter trips in before they are gone - it's unseasonably warm today down here so I hope that wasn't it for winter!

1:33 p.m. on February 20, 2018 (EST)
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Beautiful stuff Phil. Nice views for training hikes ;)

4:59 p.m. on February 20, 2018 (EST)
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Cool Phil, sorry we missed on that last trip, but it was helpful to me to stay closer to home. I thought I was going to have better weather than you did in Grayson but last Saturday turned into all-day rain in the Smokies.

I'm not planning a Scotland trip but never lack opportunities to test out the rain gear. :)

10:51 p.m. on February 20, 2018 (EST)
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I was wondering if you had better weather on the other side of the hills. We'll catch up sometime!

4:36 p.m. on February 21, 2018 (EST)
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Great pictures and overview, Phil! Very pretty.

I like your monadnock picture and reference too.

5:00 p.m. on February 27, 2018 (EST)
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The sock picture makes me laugh. Last year I had to put on frozen socks just like that several times (was not willing to sacrifice my dry pair on a couple longer trips). I wound up using my stove to thaw them enough to get my feet into them; and I had to do the same thing with my mostly fabric shoes. I somehow let them freeze in odd shapes and the toe box was too scrunched up to fit my foot. always learning what not to do it seems......

8:11 p.m. on February 27, 2018 (EST)
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Yeah - I wear frozen socks several times a year, but love putting on the camp pair on the last day!  I need to dig back through trip photos the last 20 years - I am sure I have other frozen sock photos and could add to my alphabet starting with the M from this trip.

August 21, 2019
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