Editor’s Note: Blue Ridge Outdoors contributor Chris Gallaway is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. He will be periodically checking in with BRO and sharing the story of his hike. This is his first dispatch from the A.T. Read his first entry from the trail, A Cold Start, and second entry, Trail Magic.

It’s been pretty crazy out here, folks. Two weeks into the Trail I had fairly cemented my trail name for the journey, “Frost.” It was meant to be an homage to one of my favorite writers, but it began to feel like tempting fate. What had been a fairly mild winter here in the southeast gave way to some brutal winter storms in February and March, the worst of the weather hitting just as I hiked into Great Smoky Mountains Park with my friend Mot (not the place you want to be tangling with winter weather!).

Now, several weeks after hobbling out of the Smokies, with my pride whipped and my knuckles slightly frost bit I’m cautiously hoping that the worst of the winter weather is behind us, but I know better than to bank on it. I’ve had several good friends leave the trail due to the difficult conditions. Last Chance got a severe case of frostbite on his hands while hiking the Smokies crest, Steven (“Cash”) slipped on a patch of ice up there and badly sprained his ankle, necessitating four weeks of rest. It just goes to show that nothing can be taken for granted on this “simple” walk in the woods.

My thoughts and best wishes are with my friends as they heal up and try to get ready to return to the Trail. In the meantime, here are some more images of the past weeks of heavy weather and beautiful hiking. If you think you’re getting tired of winter scenery, imagine how we feel!

Photography by Chris Gallaway and Spencer Cooke (www.effort.tv)