Saturday, July 1, 2017

Future Trails

Oct 14-18 Appalachian Trail
Nov 13-17 Appalachian Trail
Dec  10-14 Appalachian Trail

You may have to open our picture links in a new window by right clicking the picture link.  I don't know why I am having this issue.

(All hikes are subject to change at any time)
Benton MacKaye Trail
Pinhoti Trail
Bartram Trail

Thursday, April 6, 2017

AT - Newfound Gap to I-40 Make up hike

Day One:10.2                                                                      Outcasts Total Miles: 2098.3
Newfound Gap to Pecks Corner
Day Two: 4.9
Pecks Corner to Tri Corner
Day three: 7.7
Tri Corner to Cosby
Day Four: 7.5
Cosby to Davenport

Day Five: 2.8
Davenport to I-40
Total Miles: 33.1

We rehiked this part of the AT for Troy who could not make it before. We had the large batch of Thru-hikers to deal with this time.

Starting on a clear sunny Sunday put us in competition for a parking space at Newfound Gap. It worked out that a car was pulling out as we came through. Off to a good start.

There were ALOT of people on the trail between Newfound and Charlies Bunion. We got an earlier start on the trail than last time and more daylight which led us to getting into our shelter just after dark.

Lots of good views and for the first time in twenty years, we had our permit checked by a law enforcement ranger on the trail. He also notified us that there was a ranger staying at our shelter tonight.

We stopped and ate our dinner on the trail and got into camp around 9 local time. There were many tents set up with Thru-hikers, but room in the shelter.

Day Two:
We got up this morning listening to the ranger bragging about how we came in quietly last night. Then his radio went off saying a major thunderstorm was heading our way. Up we got, collecting food bags and getting water. The ranger stopped long enough to check our permit and then headed out to get off the trail.

With just light rain coming down, we headed out. We had a short distance to go today, but a mile out we got hit hard. Standing in about six inches of water on the trail and lighting hitting all around us. The shelter was full of drowned hikers. Wet clothes hanging everywhere. We ended up with a head count of 18 for the night and a dozen clothes lines. Rained all night.

Day Three:
The sun was out and a great day ahead. We enjoyed the sunshine for a while before it just got hot. As all of the hikers we stayed with passed us by, we started getting new hikers that were heading to our next shelter. When we got to Cosby we were met by a Trailrunner who again checked our permit. Numerous Thru-hikers. Some stopped to eat, some set up camp and then broke it down and headed on, and some stayed. Another night with a full shelter and campground.

That evening we got to hear a couple of owls talking and then in the middle of the night one sounded off in camp.

Day Four:
Once again they were calling for storms. We headed out and had another great day on the trail. When we stopped for lunch we were just a couple of miles from the shelter. Marco and I were making sandwiches when Troy came in asking if we saw the lightening. We dove into our wet weather gear as the rain started. We had rain, but not the rain that the other hikers behind us got into. Made it to the shelter and then the rain stopped for the evening. Lots of visiting with other hikers through the afternoon.

Day Five:
A short hike to a waiting Dad. He had treats from Mom and drove us back to our car at Newfound Gap. We drove into snow and 29 degrees. Our car had about two inches on top of it. There were two snow plows waiting in the parking area to start clearing roads. Off we went.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

AT I-40 to Hot Springs NC

Day One: 2.8                                                                      Outcasts Total Miles: 2065.2
I-40 to Painter Branch
Day Two: 7.8
Painter Branch to Brown Gap
Day three: 10.2
Brown Gap to Walnut Mt. Shelter
Day Four: 9.9
Walnut Mt. Shelter to Deer Park Mt. Shelter
Day Five: 3.2
Deer Park Mt. Shelter to Hot Springs
Total Miles: 33.9

Well, we made it to our first trail town on the Appalachian Trail. Hot Springs, NC, 273.7 miles from Springer Mt., GA, where we started on the AT.

We dropped off our car in Hot Springs and got a shuttle from Dan at Bluff Mountain Outfitter back to I-40. It was uphill all the way to our campsite at Painter Branch. When we got there we found a group of first time backpackers from Florida. We had a good night of visiting with them and exchanging stories.

Day Two:
Today we finished climbing Snowbird Mountain where we got some great views of the surrounding mountains. From there we continued on to Brown Gap visiting with many Thru Hikers along the way.

Brown Gap has a small campsite along a gravel road with a spring. Not the best place to stay, but it worked. The rain kicked in just after we got our tarps set up. In between the rain showers we filtered water and hung bear bags.

Day Three:
We got up and ate breakfast. While we were eating the ground froze and our tarps froze. It was kinda weird watching the ice form on everything. We broke down camp and headed off.

We climbed Max Patch. There was a gentle Gail Force Arctic wind blowing. One Thru Hiker came back down and put on his rain gear before attempting the summit. After some quick views we went down the other side and had lunch.

We stopped at Roaring Fork shelter to air out our equipment from last night. There was still ice on our tarps as we hung them out to dry.

From there we continued on to Walnut Mt. shelter. This shelter is on top with the campsites behind it. Not a good place to be in during a storm. We had one Thru Hiker camping with us tonight. We had a good campfire and listened to the owls.

Day Four:
Today starts off with the climbing of Bluff Mountain. From there we continued on to Deer Park Mt. shelter. We camped down by the stream for the shelter. That night we had a strong thunderstorm after we got in bed.

Day Five:
Today we head into town. Our first trail town on the AT. We stopped at the Smoky Mountain Diner and had us a Hungry Hiker Burger. Life is good!


Saturday, February 18, 2017

AT - Newfound Gap to I-40

Day One:10.2                                                                      Outcasts Total Miles: 2031.03
Newfound Gap to Pecks Corner
Day Two: 4.9
Pecks Corner to Tri Corner
Day three: 7.7
Tri Corner to Cosby
Day Four: 8.7
Cosby to Davenport

Side trip to Mt. Cammerer
Day Five: 2.8
Davenport to I-40
Total Miles: 34.3

Troy couldn't join us this time. Marco and I headed up to Newfound Gap to start our hike. We got on the trail a little later than planned. We met the thru hiker Lazarus at Charlies Bunion and then again at Pecks Corner Shelter. We arrived after dark but enjoyed some great views while it was light out. The stars were wonderful and the moon bright when it came out. We set up camp for the night and went to bed.

We got up and headed out. Another great day of hiking. We got into Tri Corner early and collected some firewood. Our two hikers tonight were doing a 30 day hike. Hunter runs a Wilderness initiative program out of Georgia. They brought in the weather report so we got our fire going early. Rain was heading our way. It rained heavy all night long. We had our mouse going through packs and checking everyone out.

We woke up to two inches of snow. It was a windy day of hiking and the temps were dropping. Talked to some more thru hikers today. Lots of good views. Had some issues with ice blowing off the trees and hitting us. When we got to Cosby Shelter the wind was blowing too strong to enjoy a fire. We hung out in the shelter for the evening and called it an early night.

Another cold and windy day of hiking. We took the side trail out to Mt. Cammerer. The windows and walkway around the tower were all frozen over. We did get the views in anyway. Then we started the long descent down to Davenport. The weather was warming up all the way down. When we got to Davenport Gap shelter, there was a stack of wood, cardboard, lent, and a lantern. This was going to have to be a trap. Not normal at all.

We got camp set up and then a couple of thru hikers came in. We had heard about the group of seven firefighters from Virginia Beach behind us and now they caught up with us as well. Lots of visiting tonight around the fire.

We got up early and then everyone else got up. After saying our goodbyes we headed down to I-40 where Mom and Dad picked us up. Another great hike.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

AT - Fontana Dam to Clingman's Dome

Day One: 5.8                                                                      Outcasts Total Miles: 1996.73
Fontana Dam to Campsite 113
Day Two: 8.3
Campsite 113 to Russell Field
Day three: 8.9
Russell Field to Derrick Knob
Day Four: 7.4
Derrick Knob to Double Springs
Day Five: 3.2
Double Springs to Clingman's Dome
Total Miles: 33.6

Our little buddy Marco could not make this hike. Troy and I arrived at the Fontana Dam at lunch time. We ate, crossed the dam, and then started the steep and steady climb up to Shuckstack Mountain. We met a lot of Southbound Thru-hikers all five days of this hike.

It was getting dark and shortly after passing the Lost Cove trail, we went to headlamps. When we got to campsite 113 a fire was already burning with a couple of guys setting next to it. Campsite 113 used to be a rock shelter which was removed and now there are six leveled areas for tents with a group fire site at the old shelter location. We visited with the three other campers until everyone called it a night. We heard from two Screech owls and one Baird owl.

Day Two:
We got up and found the spring which was not flowing at the pipe, but lower down the draw. After breakfast we said goodbye to our friends and headed out. Today's big topic on the trail was water. Everyone was saying there was a lack of water on the trail, but we had no problems. Everyone had a different story. No water at this shelter, no water at that one, water here, and water there.

We got into the Russell Field shelter where five others were already getting their dinners together. Two more joined us later in the evening. We had lots of topics discussed around the fire.

Day Three:
Today was our tough day. Lot's of ups and downs. We got some great views from Rocky Top and visited with a lot more hikers. We got into the Derrick Knob shelter late with the use of headlamps. Plenty of water here and no other hikers. It was a peaceful night.

Day Four:
Another great day on the trail. Lot's of views as we headed over Silers Bald and walked the ridge over to Double Springs Shelter. We met our two thru hikers dressed for Holloween. One had a fern leaf attached to his pack and he was itching "Fernicher" the other had two tree roots sticking up from his pack "GPS". When asked where you were going he would hand you the root.

We got in to Double Springs early and gathered wood. We had this shelter to ourselves as well.

Day Five:
This was our out day. We hiked up to the Clingman's Dome tower and then down to the parking lot where Dad and Mom were waiting for us.

Another great hike completed.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

AT - Clingmans Dome to NewFound Gap

Day One: 4.5                                                    Outcasts Total Miles: 1963.13
Trail to tower 0.5
AT 3.5
Sugarland Trail 0.5
Day Two: 4.7
Sugarland Trail 0.5
AT 4.2
Total Miles: 9.2 

We headed up to the Smoky's and left a car at Newfound Gap on our way to Clingman's Dome. The traffic was horrendous so it took us an hour to drive from Newfound Gap to Clingman's Dome parking area.

Once we got a parking spot, we headed the half mile paved trail up to the tower. Lot's of people everywhere. Finally, when we got on the AT, we were alone and didn't see anyone until we got to the Sugerland trail sign. When we got to the Mt. Collins shelter there were two couples in tents and four others in the shelter.

We had a night of visiting around a fire in the fireplace as they had removed the outside fire ring due to people cutting live trees.

The next day we got up and hiked out to Newfound Gap.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Kentucky Trail - No Business Creek to Blue Heron

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.

Day Two:
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.

Day Three:
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.

Day Four:
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.