Okay so it was 4, and we did come down. We just haven’t made it back up again. This picture was from 2010 – one of the hardest hikes of my life. I was anemic at the time, but didn’t know it. We’ve tried to go back, but I’m starting to reckon we never will.
In the years since, we tried another trip to Rocky Top/Thunderhead via Spence Field, but failed miserably. We took a wrong turn at a trail intersection and didn’t realize it until most of our day was eaten up. Once we corrected our course, it was too late to continue on to the top.
Over the Presidents day weekend, 3 of the 4 of the original crew decided to make the attempt again. The days before had brought us snow in the foothills, so it was no surprise to find the trail covered in the mountain elevations.
About 2 miles in, our fearless guide started questioning our path. Why we let her lead after the wrong turn last time, I’m not sure. Laziness? Blind trust? Grace and forgiveness? Yeah, we’ll go with that.
About 3 miles in, she again started questioning the path. “We’re good.” I assured her. “We’re encountering all the landmarks the trail description listed.” But around mile 4, my confidence started to waiver. We pulled out the trusty cell phone and reread the description.
Okay so maybe we didn’t notice the intersection because of all the snow, but the second description matched. We were on the right trail. Or were we? Agreeing not to make any further judgments until the 5.1 mile mark as described. We pressed on until…
OOH – the shelter!!!
Crap – the wrong shelter!
Somehow we’d missed the original turn and wound up at the Russell Field Shelter instead of Spence field. Kelly had remarked how the hike up was the toughest she’d ever done. Odd, given we’d done the trail before. Only we never had.
We ate our lunch, attempted a fake smile, and pressed on toward the goal. At first it was difficult, knowing the 3 extra snowy miles were because of a mistake. Soon we got lost in our alphabet game (movies, music, books) and enjoyed our little stroll through Narnia.
Of course by the time we arrived, we needed another snack, but unfortunately the clock and our wet feet weren’t on our side. We didn’t get the opportunity to head up to Rocky Top or Thunderhead.
As we traveled up, the trail was snow covered. We were watching our feet and didn’t see the sign. The warmth of the day melted the snow while we were up top, so the mistake seemed foolish.