After leaving Friday night at about 7 pm, Mike Schantz, Tamar Melman, Erica Spiritos, Nate, and I ended up taking an (unintentional) detour along the wrong interstate for half and hour, but ended up getting to the Dolly Sods wilderness area around 12:30- 1 am. We arrived to an utterly alien area: Dolly Sods, already known for its tundra/alpine like landscape because of the plateau it is on, was pitch black with sustained winds of up to about 30-50 mph or so. Without the thermometer our car told us it was around 20 F, so it was probably around zero with the wind. We set up tents in absolutely freezing weather but had a fantastic view of the stars. We had a cold first night.
It was still around 20-25 F when we woke up and ate some quick and delicious hot oatmeal, but it warmed up to above freezing probably around noon or so. We had a gorgeous hike and were well prepared with our use of layers and constant activity to keep us warm. We sort of got a little lost on the trail but at no harm, as we already knew where the loop would take us back to anyway (it turns out we were just going the wrong direction). The trail often followed a tiny stream bed so we were often hiking on ice- kind of neat! We ended up, by pure coincidence, running into a group of 4 from the University of Maryland and ended up making camp with them on Saturday at a gorgeous stream junction. It was much warmer on Saturday night (probably a low a little bit below freezing) and we were much more comfortable- especially with a well-made campfire, hot chocolate, and a couple packs of Ramon and (not-so-delicious) mac and cheese. We ended up going to bed around 7:30 pm after hiking 8-9 miles or so.
We woke up a little bit before 7 am to try and avoid a potential snow fall. Fortunately, the change in warmer weather meant we were not snowed in that day, and did not even get the freezing rain we expected as well until around 10:30 or so, at which point we were eating lunch at an overlook a bit from the "parking lot" on the forest road we had parked on. We ended up heading home in cold rainy weather around 11 and got back to Pittsburgh around 3:15 pm.