Cold and Confused, I Survived Winter Storm Grayson

February 8, 2018

If you live in the Southeast, you probably know that January 2018 brought some record cold temperatures below the Mason-Dixon Line. The first week of 2018 was especially frigid as Winter Storm Grayson swept over the East Coast, coating a wide swath of the eastern United States in ice and snow. Talk about a rude welcome to the Appalachian Trail!

If you see episode 4 of my vlog on YouTube, it should be apparent that it was no walk in a park. The cold, wet weather would have been enough to overcome, but I unwittingly decided to play “Hike the AT” on hard mode by getting a late start. Battling subfreezing temperatures would have been unpleasant enough, but I also got to hike in the dark. As a result, I literally found myself walking in circles for more than an hour. I passed the same notice board at least twice. When it’s late, it’s cold, and you’re longing for the sight of your truck, discovering that you’re going in circles can be frustrating, and even a little scary. Luckily, I was able to correct my course and make it to the oasis known as “the parking lot,” giving me the opportunity get off the trail before the worst of the storms passed through.

Subscribe to the IntrepiDan YouTube channel

My return to the trail at Jarrard Gap a few days later was less circuitous, but I got to experience a new pastime on the trail—falling on your butt. While I chose to stay off the trail during the worst of the storm, when I returned there was plenty of ice to slip and slide on. I’m naturally a bit clumsy as is, so adding ice to the mix (and forgetting to wear your microspikes) makes for a lot of time spent on the ground cursing at frozen water. I’m just glad there was nobody around to see me taking cartoonesque pratfalls while I was filming. At least I hope there wasn’t anyone watching.

This whole ordeal taught me a couple of lessons to apply as I continue my journey.

  1. Hit the trail early so you don’t have to hike in the dark so much (I’m still working on that one)
  2. Wear your microspikes so you don’t bust your butt trying to traverse ice on the trail

In the end, I managed to do just fine, which is good, because I’m sure there will be more cold winds, ice hazards and nighttime hiking in my future.