Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

Blood Mountain

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

I awoke at 7am on Friday 6, to the threat of rain. I quickly made coffee, packed my tent, and headed up Blood Mountain just as it began to rain. It’s a long gradual climb – 1300 ft. – to the top at 4450 ft. Usually the views are spectacular, but today all we could see was a swirling, dense fog, accompanied by light rain. Even though it was a long climb the path was more gentle with switchbacks. There were a lot of day hikers out – this being Friday.

Right now I’m at Blood Mountain Cabins, a nice place with a special rate for hikers. There is room in each cabin for four to six people, but when I told the owners I snore, they granted me a cabin of my own, with the exception I help someone coming in late in the rain.

I’ve dried my gear, they even washed my clothes for free, and tomorrow I will resupply and buy a new air mattress. The weather is supposed to turn cold which will be good for hiking but bad in my tent.

Gouch Shelter

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Day three. 4/5/12. You may see a lot of errors – more than usual – because I’m typing on my phone. My battery drains faster than my iPhone did and I hurry to write a blog.

The hiking was better today because of a good nights rest and gentle terrain for several miles. I’m starting to see more hikers but there are long stretches where I’m alone for hours. The woods are beautiful with giant mature oaks, hickory, and popular. Sometimes I will hike through tunnels of rhododendron, and the path is lined with beautiful wildflowers.

Tomorrow I will hike over Blood Mountain, the highest mountain in Georgia and stop at the hostle there. We had more rain and lightning before I reached camp, but the sun is now out and I am still dry.

Sassafras Mountain

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Day two was a killer. I had Sassafras Mountain to navigate, along with several steep peaks and gaps all day long. The AT in Georgia likes to visit every mountain top it passes, and the trail builders never heard of switch-backs. By the time I hiked 11 miles to a place called Justin Creek, it felt like I had walked 20. I can see why novice backpackers quit after just a few days. These mountains are hard!

My feet are doing good – no blisters yet – just a couple of sore toenails. My knee feels good and I only feel it if I go too fast on the descents. I still don’t have much appetite and I know I’m not drinking enough. It’s supposed to get cooler next week so that should help.

I’m starting to meet a lot of thru-hikers now. One interesting man is 89 years old, attempting to hike to Maine. Another, is carrying a 90 pound pack – the one leaving stuff beside the trail.

I am pretty tired tonight. I should sleep pretty well except for an air mattress that has a slow leak and leaves my hip touching the ground. I may replace it at the outfitters in Mountain Crossing.

Springer

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

I started up Springer approach trail at 7:30 am. It didn’t take long before my zip-off pants came off and I was sweating profusely. Even early in the morning the temperature was close to seventy. I only passed a couple of day hikers on the way and met one young thru-hiker while I was resting at a shelter.

I’ve heard of hikers throwing away gear on the mountain, but never thought it was true. About two-thirds of the way up, I came to a campsite with gear scattered by the trail. At first I thought someone was camped there but no one was about and I realized it was discarded from someone’s pack. There was hi-tech clothes, assorted camping items, and eight expensive Mountain House dinners. I wanted to pack the food out but I had all I could carry as it was.

When I reached Springer and the start of the AT, it was still early so I decided to move ahead to the next shelter. And besides, it looked like a storm was moving in, prompting me to get to lower ground for the night.

The walk down the mountain was exciting. Lighting crashed all around, hail prattled my head, and the rain came in torrents. I was full of adrenaline, propelling me faster than I should have walked on slippery rocks, until eventually the sun came out again. By the time I reached Stover Creek shelter, I was almost dry.

I visited with a couple hikers and enjoyed good conversation until darkness and bugs drove us to our tents. I slept well but woke early in the morning.

Amicalola Falls

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

I left Pittsburgh shortly before noon on Sunday, April 1st. It was only 650 miles to my destination in Georgia so I decided to take two easy days for the drive. Even though my job for the last year has been driving 200 miles every day, it still seemed like a long, tiring trip. I never realized how far it is from the top of West Virginia to the boarder of North Carolina. Interstate 77 intersects the fattest part of the state and also cuts through the Appalachian Mountains for half its length. My old van got tired from going up and down the mountains, but it faithfully chugged on like a true workhorse.

I stayed overnight at a motel just outside of Charlotte, NC, and in the morning drove the rest of the way to Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. As I continually made my way south, the weather seemed to change from spring to summer. Everything is lush with deep green color (even I can see it) and the trees are filling the sky with thick canopies of leaves. Someone said the temperature reached 85 today. It’s not going to be easy hiking with heat like that.

I signed in at the Visitor Center as thru-hiker (that’s how they spell it) number 702. I flipped back through the pages and counted 45 hikers signed in yesterday alone. Everyone plays the game of saying they are hiking all the way to Maine even though the odds are stacked 90 % against them. It’s funny to see the youthful, exuberance these young people overflow with. I guess it’s good that they are so positive and energetic. What surprises me the most is that I can’t believe how young they look. I think I have underwear older than some of them. At any rate, I sure won’t be hiking alone.

I talked with a Ranger about parking my van for a while and filled out more paperwork. Before I left, she told me about a side road that leads to the National Forest, just over the boundary of the Start Park, where I could park and camp free. So that’s where I am. In the morning I will park in the extended lot and begin the hike to Springer Mountain and the start of the AT. I weighed my pack earlier and found it weighs 31 lbs., more than I like but less than a lot of others.

This unusual, warm weather will be nice for sleeping, but it will also cause some problems. For one thing, I’ll need to carry a lot more water. Dehydration is not only uncomfortable but also dangerous for a person with kidneys like mine. Warm temperatures also bring out surly snakes and excitable, biting insects, and – probably the thing I fear the most – vivid lightning storms. All sorts of things can happen out there, but the most dangerous part is over – the drive down here.

I may not be able to update for a while. If I can get a signal, I’ll try to check my phone each day for email. Other than that I will turn it off to save battery life. Thanks for reading.

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Anonymous