Sunday, May 1, 2016
Oct 10-11 Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap
Oct 28-Nov 1 Appalachian Trail
Nov 15-16 Long Hunter
Dec 12-16 Appalachian Trail
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(All hikes are subject to change at any time)
Benton MacKaye Trail
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Day One: 13.5 Outcasts Total Miles: 1953.93
Road walk 11
Long Branch, No Business, to Kentucky trail 2.5
Day Two: 7.5
Burkes Branch to Big South Fork river
Day Three: 9.4
Big South Fork to Three West Hollow
Day Four: 1.5
Three West Hollow to Blue Heron Overlook
Total Miles: 31.9
The 22.2 mile Kentucky trail is a beautiful hike through the upper section of the Big South Fork Recreation Area. It runs from the old community of No Business to the Yamacraw bridge. It is labeled on the BSF map and in the 100 Trails of the BSF, but is not labeled anywhere on the actual trail. Mainly they post the next creek or trailhead, but never call it by any other name but "Hiking Trail" on the signs. So you need to know at all times where you are and where you are going.
The trail has three markers: the old red arrow head on the white background, the green square, and a biker marker. Luckily, none are consistent and you don't have to worry about having any of them where you really need markers.
If you are a bike rider and plan on doing this trail on a bike, I make the following suggestions: Get the lightest frame possible, remove the seat as you won't be using it, remove the tires as you will break them, remove peddles and chains since you don't have tires, get a good piece of webbing and strap it to your back. You will be carrying the bike more than riding the bike!
Now for the Outcasts, anyone can do this trail in good weather. I suggest late fall, winter, and early spring since I am sure this trail grows over rather fast. As for us, we wait until a good freezing rain and snow before we head out.
When we get to Blue Heron we are met with a barricade, a ranger, and snow plow. We tell him of our plan to hike the Kentucky trail and we need to leave a car. Of course he is not familiar with the Kentucky trail and there is no way we can go to the Blue Heron parking area because of trees and ice on the road. He said that we could park at the Overlook if we can make it up there. So this is what we do. What is one extra mile?
By the time we get back to the lower part of the park it is pouring down freezing rain and the road is getting slick. Divide road, which we need to take to Terry Cemetery is covered with ice and snow. We head to Pickett State Park and rented a cabin. The Ranger there has never heard of the Kentucky trail, but knows where Terry Cemetery is. We have to hike to No Business Creek to start the trail. Rain turns to snow.
The next morning we head out and get a few hundred yards down Divide road before we get stuck. We back out to the main road and think, and think, and think....
Heading back towards Pickett we found a ranger at the Forestry garage and stop. We tell him that we cannot make it down Divide road and need to find a place to park. He has not heard of the Kentucky trail but knew where Terry Cemetery was and Blue Heron was. He said that four wheel drive vehicles cannot make it down Divide road when it is like this. He let us park by the fire tower, but wasn't really sure that he would ever see us again. What is adding 11 miles to the hike?
So we hike down 154 to Divide road to Terry Cemetery road to Long Branch trail. It didn't take long to find out what an ice storm does to Hemlock trees. For every Hemlock standing, there were three across the trail. Only for the entire hike we went over, under, through and around trees. Our first foot washing, shins, knees, thighs was the No Business Creek. It had quite a bit of current as well. After three foot washings, we came to our first bridge at Dry Branch. This is where the Kentucky trail begins. They had signs everywhere for everything except the Kentucky trail. Made us feel good right off. Anyways, we set up camp for the night. We got to hear owls and coyotes during the night. When Marco and I hung the bear bag, we ended up with a branch on top of us. Must be too much food. Had to find another branch.
More trees down. It really slowed us down and gave us an over all body workout. We were really amazed by the bike trail markers as you could not ride a bike even without the storm damage.
When we got to Difficulty Creek a tree was down across the bridge which required another foot washing. This became our running joke as trees were down on all bridges after this and on everything else.
When we got to Troublesome Creek we found that these creeks are kind of depressing just by name alone. Troublesome Creek bridge had a hole through it about the size of a horse.
When we got to the Big South Fork River, we found us a spot to set up camp for the night. We watched the sunset over the river and settled into a night of telling lies and taking cough medicine. After Troy had gone to bed, Marco and I heard a loud cracking sound like a limb falling off a large tree and then a yell. We headed over to check out the damage, when we found Troy laying under his tarp on the ground. The tree that he had tied his hammock off to had fallen over. I don't know how, but it fell sideways instead of on top of him and fell along side my hammock without damaging anything. After making sure he was OK, the laughter began. We helped him get set up again before going back to the campfire. Troy wasn't scared, he was back asleep within minutes.
This morning we hiked down the river. If the river had been up to flood stage this trail would be impassible. We could see where it had gotten up to the last time and it was still muddy from that. When we got to the trail to go up out of the river valley, it to was covered in downed trees.
The area around Ledbetter Trailhead was gravel roads with trees across it. Not much as far as markings, but referred us to the "Hiking Trail".
I went to check out the Big Spring Falls as Troy and Marco cleared the trees off the Big Spring Hollow bridge. From here the trail follows the old Tram bed all the way to the bridge of Blue Heron. You get off it long enough to see Dick Gap falls and the Catawba Overlook. We set up camp on a level area above the trail for the night.
Just before you get to the Mine 18 tipple bridge you start finding parts of old mining carts. We crossed the bridge and headed through the "Cracks in the Rocks" which is just like it sounds. They have stairs where you go over fallen boulders. We climbed up to the Blue Heron overlook and then headed back to the car.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
Day One: 2.5 Outcasts Total Miles: 1921.03
NOC to Campsite before Grassy Gap
Day Two: 8.0
Grassy Gap to Locust Cove Gap
Day Three: 5.5
Locust Cove Gap to Brown Fork Gap Shelter
Day Four: 9.3
Brown Fork Gap Shelter to Campsite Past Walker Gap
Day Five: 3.7
Campsite to Fontana Visitor Center
Total Miles: 29
We got to the trailhead in the afternoon after dropping off a car at the Fontana Dam visitor center. We packed up and started the climb out of the Nantahala Outdoor Center. We stopped at the campsite that is before Grassy Gap. There is a large boulder rock wall on one side and a good flowing spring is on the other side of the trail down below. We had a good night of telling lies around the campfire and listening to the owls talk.
We continued the climb today with some views from the Jump-up. We stopped at the Sassafras Gap shelter for a very cold lunch break and then finished up our climb to Cheoah Bald for some wonderful views. This has been a long drawn out uphill climb.
We camped at Locust Cove Gap down by the spring to avoid the wind. Tonight was the coldest night dropping down to the single digits. Even the firewood didn't want to burn. We got our bellies full and called it an early night.
Today the temps never got up. We had the steep decent to Stecoah gap where we ate our lunch at the picnic table. The springs here were dry. After that came the long climb to Sweetwater Gap and then the extreme climb before dropping down to Brown Fork Gap shelter. During the extreme climb Troy came up and said "another life's lessons" and that was all he had to say about that.
We had our first hiker in camp tonight "Emersion" came in right at dark and visited with us around the campfire. The wind picked up and then climbed to tornatic levels by bed time. During the night I was wondering if any of us would have tarps left by morning.
We survived the night. It warmed up today where we were putting on and taking off clothes all day. Cold side of the mountain and then the warm side and back. We enjoyed the sunshine during lunch and after crossing the road at Yellow Creek Gap, made the decision to go past Cable Gap Shelter to the next campsite pass Walker Gap.
When we got to Cable Gap there were some day hikers there. One of which his Dad had a shelter named after him at Amicalola Falls State Park. We visited with them for a little while and then started the extreme climb to Black Gum Gap. It seemed like we would never start the climb down to our campsite, but we made it before dark.
That night we had a visitor. "Emersion" caught back up with us. He visited until we went to bed and then he headed on to Fontana Dam shelter.
We packed up and got on the trail by 7am. We were trying to beat the rain, but it started sleeting on us before we headed out. During the steep decent it turned into rain and set in for the day. We picked up "Emersion" at the Fontana shelter and gave him a ride back to the NOC.
This part of the AT is the toughest part in the South and we earned it.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Day One: 5.9 Outcasts Total Miles: 1892.03
Albert Mtn. to Rock Gap Shelter
Day Two: 8
Rock Gap Shelter to Siler Bald Shelter
Day Three: 8.1
Siler Bald Shelter to Lick Log Gap
Day Four: 9.3
Lick Log Gap to Wesser Bald Shelter
Day Five: 5.7
Wesser Bald Shelter to Nantahala Outdoor Center
Total Miles: 39.2
Well we started out our trip with a dead battery in the car. From there it got lots better. We drove up Albert mountain and got started on our five day backpack. Our fist stop was the Long Branch shelter for a break. When we got to the sign for the shelter, there was a turtle on the sign. Troy had remembered a hiking girl that had carried one. He picked it up and it was weighted down so he opened up the zipper and found a turtle full of weed. About that time a guy came up from the shelter and said something about finding his turtle. He was a thru hiker and had stopped for a break at the shelter. After visiting with him, he took his turtle and left. We continued to the shelter where we found lots of stuff left from other hikers. This is a new shelter built in 2012. It had mouse traps and a collection of mice piled up where someone had some fun hunting.
We continued our hike and finally made camp at the Rock Gap shelter where another individual was already staying. Kokoro was good company that night. He was impressed with the amount of wood we collect for our fires, but enjoyed it with us through the night. He is hiking the trial spreading the word of God to those interested. We heard lots of owls that night.
We got up and headed down the trail. It was another beautiful day for hiking. We got to see an owl on the trail today which is always impressive. We stopped for lunch at the campsite just beyond 64 and then continued the climb up Siler mountain.
The Siler Bald Shelter is a half mile off the trail located with a field next to it. The campfire ring was sitting about three feet high on a pile of ashes. We did a little trail work and spread the ashes out and brought the fire ring back to the ground. After setting up camp we sat down at the picnic table for dinner. Halfway through Marco jumped up screaming. He did a very complicated dance as he was telling us that something had run up his pant leg. We found a mouse that kept us entertained through the evening. He kept running all around the picnic table through the night as we enjoyed the fire.
The wind picked up to tornadic levels that night. Most the night we listened to the tarps flapping hard and hitting the side of our hammocks.
We woke up today to lots of heavy fog and water dripping off the trees. It rained lightly on and off all morning. We did not do the side trip to Siler Bald as you could not see it through the fog. Rain gear was deployed.
The gravel road 69 comes close and follows the trail along side. We stopped at the spring on 69 for lunch. We had the peaceful sound of lots of gun fire coming from the firing ranch down the road. It's a good climb to Wayah Bald, but worth it as the views from the tower were amazing. We met some motorcycle riders that stopped to check out the tower. We all made calls home from the tower to give updates on our whereabouts.
We continued on the trial to Licklog Gap for the night. There is no blue blazes for the water here, but we knew it was about a half mile down to the West. The only problem was all the hunters between here and there. Finally we just had to disturb them. They were extremely friendly to us and lead us to the creek before heading to their truck. We set up camp halfway down to the water. That night after dark another hunter stopped and visited with us on his way to his truck. The wind was easier on us tonight, but we could hear it blowing up in the Gap.
I was going to send out a message to Dad, who was also our shuttle driver, about our guesstimate on getting off the trail. Turns out that my phone was dead. Troy checked his and his was dead as well. So we had Marco's phone, but no phone numbers to get a hold of my Dad. Took a few calls before we finally got his number.
The weather warmed up today to just about too high. We stopped at the Cold Spring shelter which is literally on the trail for a snack.
We had the serous climb up Wesser Bald. I heard some little girls coming down the trail. There was two of them and then two more. Finally a Dad and girl came by. She yelled out, "I see a hiker". The dad had told them about the trail and thru hikers and she was so excited about seeing us with our packs. We continued up and climbed the Wesser Bald lookout tower to enjoy the wonderful views.
From the tower we headed down to the Wesser Bald shelter for the night. Another great night telling lies and taking cough medicine around the fire.
Pretty much all downhill today. We got the views from the "jump-off" and stopped at Rufus Morgan shelter for lunch. Dad and Mom met us at the NOC and took us back to our car.
After the hike on the way home we stopped at a gas station and Troy bought himself a drink which the man charged him $2.19. Marco stepped up and the man said "so you are the Outcasts, tell me about it" after talking to him the man charged Marco $1.19 for his drink. It pays to be famous!
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Day One: 1.8 Outcast Total Miles: 1852.83
Dicks Creek Gap to Cowart Gap
Day Two: 7.2
Cowart Gap to Bly Gap
Day Three: 7.7
Bly Gap to Standing Indian Shelter
Day Four: 7.6
Standing Indian Shelter to Carter Gap shelter
Day Five: 6.2
Carter Gap shelter to Albert Mt.
Total Miles: 30.5
We headed out to meet Sam Duke 706-994-6633 our shuttle driver at Albert's Mountain parking area. Sam is always first. He meets you before you can get there. Sam took us back to Dick's Creek Gap where we started our adventure.
We got on the trail about 3:30 and with the time change, we didn't have much time to hike before dark. We made it to Cowart Gap for our first night. Had time to get camp set up and collect firewood before it got dark.
We got up and on the trail by eight. Today's goal was to enter our second state on the Appalachian Trail, North Carolina. All during the next four days we would be passing Southbounders finishing the through hike of the Appalachian trail.
The Boarder was a good milestone for us at 75.5 miles from Springer. The wind was whipping across the gap when we got there, so we headed down the side of the mountain for the night. This was our cold night for the trip. We had one of our water bags get a layer of ice around it.
Today we started with a couple of good steep climbs. Sharp Top and Courthouse took a bit of energy from us. After our climbs we had a good day and made it to Standing Indian Shelter. Standing Indian was popular with campers all around the area. We headed on past the shelter and dropped down into the woods near the stream for our camp.
On the way up the mountain we passed a guy and asked him about the lows for tonight. He told us it was supposed to be in the teens. This was not good as we were expecting thirty. It turned out to be warmer than last night.
We started out with the easy climb up Standing Indian Mountain. Another beautiful day on the trail led us to Carter Gap. We set up camp at the site of the old shelter.
We had an older guy with long white hair pass us at lunch time on day two. On day three we passed his campsite by Muskrat Creek shelter. As we ate lunch near the shelter we saw him carrying a five gallon bucket and a shovel over towards his campsite from the privy. We didn't see him carrying a bucket the day before so we figured he was doing maintenance on the shelter area. Well tonight he hiked into Carter Gap and went to the shelter. Later in the evening after we got our fire going he came down to our site. He asked if we were the people that he has been seeing on the trail and of course yep we were. He said that he had hiked the Continental Divide trail. Sooo I said OK?! He wanted to know if we had seen a couple that were hiking together as they were supposed to be back at their car and were over due. I told him about one that I had seen at the Standing Indian Shelter, but they had a dog and his couple did not. They were supposed to be using hammocks and he noticed that we had them too. OK?! Then he was done. I asked if he was doing maintenance on the trail and he said that he takes limbs out while he was hiking. I said that we had seen him with the bucket at the shelter. He said that he borrowed the bucket to shovel out his fire pit, but that it was frozen so he used the bucket to sit on. Then he turned around and left. That was different and left us with a lot of questions.
That night we had a campfire that airplanes were calling in. Thanks Troy! We had another evening telling lies and drinking cough medicine.
Heading out today with the major climb of Albert mountain today. Lots of good views of the mountains and Albert didn't let us down. It was a view that you had to work for! The tower was locked today so we only got the views from the stairs.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Day One; 6.9 miles Outcast Total Miles: 1822.33
Day Two: 5.7
Total Miles: 12.6
Well we started our hiking season with a rain delay. We were on the trail before lunch and all went well. Our wildlife consisted of a turtle, and lots and lots of deer. We heard owls and coyotes during the evening hours.
It turned out to be a great day for hiking after the rain left. We had the trail to ourselves for the day other than the fishermen on the lake and the one barge working on the underwater gas lines. This year we stayed at campsite #2.
We got camp set up and collected firewood. We all went to the lake shore to see the sunset across the lake. Afterwards we ate and spent the evening telling lies around the campfire and taking cough medicine. We got a few sprinkles overnight, just enough for me to put my tarp up and then it stopped.
The next morning we hiked out and saw our only other hiker, an older gentlemen that was getting in shape to hike the Continental Divide trail in a couple of years when he turns 80 years old. We had a nice visit with him and then headed out.
A good start to a new season.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Day One: 8.8 Miles Outcast Total Miles: 1809.73
Bear Den Point Loop 4.7
Walls Of Jericho AL to camp 2.5
South Rim Trail 1.6
Day Two: 6.0
Walls of Jericho 1.6
Walls of Jericho TN 2.0
Mill Creek Loop 2.4
Total Miles 14.8
Marco and I headed out for our multi-state hike. We dropped a car at the Tennessee trailhead and headed to Alabama for the Walls of Jericho trailhead. Troy could not make this hike and we missed him.
We started out on the Bear Den Point Loop. This trailhead is on the North side of the parking area and the trail crosses Hwy 64 and does a loop on the East side of the road. There are some good rock formations and a water fall on this trail.
From here we headed down to the Walls of Jericho campsite. All down hill! After getting to camp, we decided to go ahead and do the South Rim Trail. We found out that this is not a loop trail. It follows the rim with no good views and then ends before you get to the falls. Not much of a trail, so we headed back to camp.
We had to search like looking for Easter Eggs to find firewood for the night. It is obvious that this is a popular campsite. After we got camp set up we saw the only people that we saw on this trip. A man, woman, and dog were heading to the Walls. Just before dark we heard a loud noise. It sounded like a flock of geese and then died down.
As the darkness fell, so did the temps and the fire grew. We had a good warm fire and took a couple of breaks to hike out in the field to see the stars. Awesome! We told lies and took our cough medicine.
The next morning we woke to the same loud noise and found it to be a flock of turkeys. We got up, had breakfast, and broke down camp. We headed to the Walls along the creek. You cross over the lower falls and then climb into the large rock amphitheater. There a couple of levels you can climb before you get to where the largest of falls would go underground. It is a wonderful place of beauty.
We hiked back through camp and then climbed the Tennessee side of the trail. When we got to the Mill Creek Loop we went West by the Blow Hole. We had an owl talk to us in this area. We did not go to the Blow Hole but continued up back to the overlook and parking area.
Another great hike!