No it's not as cold as it gets in Alaska but the Smokies are really feeling the arctic blast the blew in here 2 days ago and tonight even low elevations in the Smoky mountains are expecting temperatures of 0 degrees. The next few days will see continuing brutal temperatures and more snow in the Smokies.
For hikers, this weather can present a real challenge. It's not just stream crossings that can be frozen, but even gravel roads, rocks and hiking trails and even tree roots can be slick with ice and these extreme low temperatures.
These extended low temperatures can spell disaster for anyone spending and extended time outside who is not dressed appropriately in layers or who overheats and then get chilled from cooling action of wet clothes which then lowers their body temperature.
When the weather gets more extreme, many hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains national park become deserted making a swift rescue by some kind passerby virtually impossible.
Hikers should always keep extra clothing in their pack during very cold weather in case they need more layers or if they just need to keep fresh dry clothes next to their body to properly maintain body temperatures.
Water can also be an issue as my water bottles froze today and eating snow can dangerously lower your body temperature although when you are exerting yourself heavily it may help cool you down and keep you from overheating.
In extreme weather such as this, an emergency foil blanket as well as an emergency foil "bag" is a must. Both are very cheap and weigh virtually nothing. While you may not plan on spending the night or a very long time in back country when hiking, if an injury occurs that slows you down or keep you from being able to move at all the last thing you want to add to your list of problems is hypothermia.
If you are not and experienced hiker or well equipment, stay on more traveled shorter trails and stay away from the higher elevations which exacerbate the problems of extreme temperatures and chance for injury.