Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Future Trails


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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Iron Mt. Gap to Hughes Gap

Day One: 4.1                                                                           Outcasts Total Miles: 2229.9
Iron Mt. Gap to Greasy Creek Gap

Day Two: 5.3
Greasy Creek Gap to Hughes Gap

Total Miles: 9.4

This time we used the shuttle service from Mountain Harbour in Roan Mt. Tennessee. As we drove into the mountains we could see the snow at the tops. They were calling for flurries with an additional inch of snow possible. We started out in 3-6 inches of snow heading our way to Greasy Creek Gap. 

We set up camp and gathered firewood as the snow began to fall. It was supposed to get down to 19 degrees tonight. We got our campfire going and ate dinner as the snow continued to fall. By bed time we had to knock the snow off our tarps. Through the night the snow kept falling. Every time we got up to use the bathroom there was more snow. Finally by morning we had an additional 12 inches of snow. It was still snowing.

We got on the trail and started plowing our way through two foot drifts and knocking the snow off branches as they hung across our trail. There was 6-8 inches of snow on the branches. It was a powdery snow so that did help. We stopped at the Clyde Smith Shelter to have a snack and thaw out our bladder hoses.

From the shelter we had 6.4 miles to go to get to our next camp at Ash Gap. It wasn't looking good for time. As we continued to battle the snow we were making slower and slower progress as well as getting more tired. Knowing the snow was not going anywhere and a good possibility that it would get worse as we climbed Roan Mt. we decided to call it at Hughes Gap Road. We called for the shuttle and they came and got us. Luckily they had plowed the road on the side he was coming from.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

AT - Spivey Gap to Iron Mt. Gap

Day One: 4.9                                                        Outcasts Total Miles: 2220.5
Spivey Gap to No Business Knob Shelter
Day Two: 10.5
No Business Knob Shelter to Curley Maple Gap Shelter
Day Three: 7.9
Curley Maple Gap Shelter to Deep Gap
Day Four: 8.0
Deep Gap to Iron Mt. Gap
Total Miles: 31.3

As usual, we like to start out with a little excitement. When we got to Iron Mountain Gap there was no AT signs like we have had at all the other Gaps. There was snow and ice. We drove just a little further to make sure we were at the top, then turned around in a driveway. Well, when we backed back into the road an eighteen wheeler tanker truck come around the corner above us heading our way fast. Marco and I both hit the accelerator of the truck trying to get out of his way. Actually he was the driver, but it was a tight minute for sure.

We used hikershuttles.com and had Tom meet us at Iron Mountain Gap to take us back to Spivey Gap to begin the hike. We started out at Spivey Gap which is 331 miles from Springer Mt., the start of the Appalachian Trail.  It didn't take us long to hike into the snow. This time it was only about 3 inches deep and no drifts. We hiked on to No Business Knob Shelter for the night. Of course we did not stay in the shelter, but swung in our hammocks near by.

Day Two:
We decided to get an early start today and try to make it to the next shelter before the storm came in which was supposed to be around noon. We stopped in Erwin at Uncle Johnny's for lunch at his picnic table out side under cover. From there we crossed the Nolichucky River and headed on to the Curley Maple Gap Shelter. It had still not started raining. Lora gave us an update that the weather was still coming. Marco entertained us with trying to hang the bear bag inside the shelter. We did stay in this shelter. It started raining around 2:30am. 

Day Three:
It decided to rain on us on and off all day today. It gave us the chance to try out some new gear. Troy had some water proof mittens and a Frog Tog rain hat. We also had our Frog Tog coats and pants. The new equipment worked OK. 

We could see nothing at the Beauty Spot which is a large bald on top of the mountain. When we got to Deep Gap the wind was blowing so hard it almost took us off the trail. Unfortunately, this was also our camping spot for the night. There was no way we could stay here which later we found out was over 50 mile an hour wind. We hiked back South until we found us a place to make camp. We ended up camping in a cloud which later did a quick freeze and dropped down in the twenties. We did get to see a deer as we found a spring down the hill from us.

Day Four:
We got up and had to pack frozen solid gear up. We were breaking ice as we put our tarps in our backpacks. We started out with the steep climb up Unaka Mountain. The snow was frozen over and we walked mostly on top of it. There is a Christmas tree decorated at the top in memory of a young boy. Probably died of cancer. The top of the mountain is covered in a large thick pine forest which is beautiful in ice and snow. On the way down the mountain we saw our first hiker of the trip. 

We stopped at Cherry Gap shelter for lunch and then we saw a mouse playing at a campsite before the next mountain. On the way up the next mountain we saw two more backpackers that had just started out on a backpack going South. 

We got to the truck and headed to our traditional breakfast at Waffle House.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

AT- Devil Fork Gap to Spivey Gap

Day One: 3.3                                                        Outcasts Total Miles: 2189.2
Devil Fork Gap to Frozen Knob
Day Two: 5.9
Frozen Knob to Spring
Day Three: 7.4
Spring to Campsite
Day Four: 5.3
Campsite to Spivey Gap
Total Miles: 21.9

Well we brought on the weather again! We called our shuttle at Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel & Outfitter in Ewrin, TN and they had gotten three inches of snow on the ground. We said that we are on the way. When we got dropped off at Devil Fork Gap there was six inches of snow on the ground. Soon we found drifts ranging between knee and crotch high. Needless to say we didn't make the miles that we normally would make.

We made it to Frozen knob and found a place out of the wind to make camp. We got wood collected and camp set up before dark. It was a pleasant night on the mountain.

Day Two:
Long and hard day today. Lots of drift busting. We had problems at two places where they did a double blaze and nothing else within site. Both places were at intersections of trails. Normally the trail is a worn out cow trail, but when you cover it with a few feet of snow it is hard to find. We split up and went blaze hunting in both directions until someone found one.

We stopped at Hogback Ridge Shelter for lunch. There were bear tracks just in front of shelter. The cool thing about snow is you see what else walks through the woods. We ended up seeing many bear, deer, and smaller critter tracks over the days. It is a long walk to the spring at this shelter.

We saw our first people between High Rock and Sams Gap which is a popular day hike. They had packed the snow down so now we were hiking on a sheet of ice. We were grabbing everything we could to stay on the trail. From the road we hiked up to the first spring and then made camp at the bottom of the draw. We met a trail runner here that had made it to the Big Bald.

We got a fire going and enjoyed the evening. Looked at the map and tried to figure how far we would make it this trip with all the snow. Not to Erwin!

Day Three:
Today was windy day. We got to check out our new lightweight Froggtoggs jacket. It worked great for stopping the crazy wind that we walked in all day. We saw our first Southbound thru hiker today. We had seen him at Uncle Johnny's on day one. He told us that it was getting down to 12 degrees in the valley tonight and heavy wind. He was getting off the trail tonight for sure.

Who would have thought that after over 300 miles on the AT, they would put a Nature Trail off to the side? Really?? There really is one and I got a picture of the sign.

When we got to the Big Bald we ended up taking the bypass trail which the thru hiker had recommended because of the weather. The wind was quite strong now as we crossed Big Stamp. We made it to the campsite beyond Bald Mountain Shelter and set up for the night. Another good evening around the campfire.

By the time we went to bed the temps had dropped below 10 and the wind was bellowing. It blew all night long. We made the call to Johnny's and arranged a pick up at Spivey Gap. Last possible pick up point of our trip.

Day Four:
We woke up to a mild wind compared to the night. EVERYTHING was frozen. Water that was in our packs, boots, and we had to use our hiking poles to chip out our tarp stakes. It was bloody cold. We got a fire going and started thawing everything out.

We saw one backpacker today who thanked us for busting up the drifts for him over the miles. We called and verified our pick up time with Johnny's when we got to Trail to High Rocks. On the way down to Spivey Gap we actually found some dirt under the ice to walk on. 

We got picked up by Doug of hikershuttles.com who was very nice and on time! His number is 423-270-9775 cell and home 423-743-8126.


Friday, November 17, 2017

AT - Devil Fork Gap to Hot Springs

Day One: 5.5                                                        Outcasts Total Miles: 2167.3
Devil Fork Gap to Shelton Graves
Day Two: 7.3
Shelton Graves to Spring
Day Three: 10.1
Spring to Spring
Day Four: 7.6
Spring to Campsite
Day Five: 4.9
Campsite to Hot Springs
Total Miles: 35.4

Day one consisted of getting there. We used the same shuttle service Bluff Mountain Outfitter. After hiking to Flint Mountain Shelter we had to make the decision to hike on or not with the early sunset. We voted to go on to the next spring. Unfortunately we hiked into a cloud and which made a bad mix with the dark. With the head lamp on you could see about four feet in front of you. Without the light you could make out about six feet. We continued on until we crossed over a spring. From there we climbed up the side of the mountain until we found trees spaced to hang our hammocks on and then set up camp. Troy stayed at the campsite while we got water so we could follow his voice and light to make it back. Everything was wet so we used the Luci light to eat dinner by and visit under until bed time. We looked like a couple of bums under a street light. We had a screech owl to get our attention in the dark.

Day two:

We got up. The cloud had moved on and the wind had dried off our tarps. It looked to be another great day. At Jerry Cabin Shelter we met a couple who were Southbound thru hikers. He had on a fancy pair of waterproof mittens made by Mountain Laurel which we questioned him about.

Today we got to experience Big Firescald Knob, a mile and half section of the trail that crossed a rocky top mountain ridge. You did have to use your hands to climb part of this Knob. Lot's of great views, but you had to earn them.

We hiked past White Rock Cliffs to the next spring. Climbed the hillside and made camp for the night. We had lots of dry wood and leaves so we got a campfire going. Once again the cloud came in for the night and totally soaked everything. We heard owls and coyotes thru the night.

Day three:

Long steep downhill today. Our goal is to reach water after crossing Allen Gap. Like every other gap there is a steep climb out. We finally got to Deep Gap and had to hike Little Paint Creek trail to get to our water for the night.

The wind picked up in the gap after we got set up for dinner. While we ate the wind died down. We decided to visit under the old Luci light again tonight. No fire. It sprinkled on and off during the evening and then rained in the night.

Day four:

We got up and while eating breakfast, a big old buck walked by camp. Shortly afterwards as we were hiking another deer crossed the trail stopping in front of us. Then of course here comes the hunter looking for the deer.

Today had a lot of climbs and down hills. When we got to the fire tower they had removed the bottom steps to keep people from climbing it. We crossed US 25 on the bridge and then hiked to the pond which turned out to be a rough water source. We went back up to the spring feeding the pond and filtered our water. We carried our water to the Pump Gap trail and made camp for the night.

The weather was great and we had a good campfire with plenty of wood for the night.

Day five:

Today was a few good ups and downs before the steep climb down to Hot Springs. Lots of views on the way down followed up by another meal at the Smoky Mountain Diner.

We have now passed the 309.1 mile mark on the Appalachian Trail.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

AT - Clingman's Dome to Fontana Dam Makeup Hike

Day One: 3.2                                                        Outcasts Total Miles: 2131.9
Clingman's Dome to Double Springs
Day Two: 7.4
Double Springs to Derrick Knob
Day Three: 8.9
Derrick Knob to Russell Field
Day Four: 8.3
Russell Field to Campsite 113
Day Five: 5.8
Campsite 113 to Fontana Dam
Total Miles: 33.6

Marco missed this section of the AT so we started out our season getting him caught up. From here it will be back to Hot Springs NC. We decided to change it up and hike it backwards so it would be all down hill this time.  HA HA HA.

We dropped off the truck at Fontana dam and drove up to Clingman's dome to start our hike. Our first injury of the trip was Marco's finger. He had his hand out the window with fingers on the roof when an acorn fell and hit it while we were driving.

When we got to Clingman's of course the traffic was backed up for a couple of miles. When we finally got somewhat close to the parking area, we did a U turn and parked on the side of the road. That gave us the chance to warm up before we started hiking. After fielding all the usual questions by the hundreds of people, we finally got on the trail to join the Southbound thru hikers.

We stayed at Double Springs shelter. They had a fire going before we got there which was a blessing for once. We had two thru hikers, two older men (anal and A** hole), Light Red and his three friends for a total of eleven. The lady thru hiker was looking for a place to hang her pack when Troy said that he could move his pack to make room for her friend. She let him know that "I don't have any friends". That of course left her wide open so I had to follow up with "I just got here and she already said that she don't like me! That's my quickest record  with a woman yet!" Lot's of laughter. Later she asked who had the pink water bottle of the four colors of bottles. The one guy said "it's not pink, it's light red". "If you say so", said the the lady. That's how he got his name. We got lots of laughs in that night around the fire.

Day Two:

Started out the day right. Troy had made some dehydrated hash browns to go with my eggs. Another success. Today was lots of up and downs as we headed to Derrick Knob shelter. We had gotten there early enough to gather firewood for the night. A hike came through and asked if we were the Outcasts. He had read our blog. We met Texas and Brother-in-law as they came in to spend the night. Had some more good visiting and time around the fire. Then the rain came in an sent us to bed for the night. It rained hard all night long. I think there were eight in the shelter tonight.

Day Three:

Texas and Brother-in-law said they were staying with us tonight as well at Russell Field shelter. We hiked off into the fog today climbing Thunderhead and Rocky top. We had the same views I had with my Dad and Brother years ago....NOTHING! After we dropped down from the peaks, the clouds cleared and we got to see mountains again.

Troy figured that it was mathematically impossible to go uphill this far and still be going down. He came up with a new song to the music of "99 bottles of beer on the wall." It went "9 miles of hurt to go, 9 miles of hurt, you take a break study the map, nine miles of hurt to go."

Again we arrived at the shelter just before Brother-in-law. The Canadian was already there. He had seen a mother and two cubs back a couple of few miles back, eh? I assume a couple means two, a few is three or more, so around six miles and eh is +/-. Any way, we some more good visiting tonight as the temperature dropped. I got to try Troy's dehydrated bandanna pudding, awesome! No fire because of the 90+ miles and hour wind blowing.

Shortly after we got to bed, Norm stopped by for a visit. Marco tapped my shoulder and told me someone was running down the trail toward the shelter. He came in and while sitting he was opening a pack of tuna. Two seconds later he opened a bag of chips, turned it up and emptied it. He asked about water and was off to get it as soon as we told him where. He almost passed himself on the way back. We asked if he was staying and he said no. He had left Newfound Gap this morning and was heading to Fontana tonight. Getting 41 miles today. I asked if felt like he was missing anything hiking at night and he replied he had already hiked the trail once. He had walked Northbound and turned around and headed back while he had the time to do it.

The wind blew most of the night. At some time when I got up for a bathroom break, I scared off some big animal as I heard it running out through the woods.

Day Four:

Today we hiked up and down. Troy got to do to me what I do to Lora often. I got up from lunch and started following Marco. Shortly I noticed that I didn't have anything in my hands. I turned to go back for my hiking sticks when I noticed Troy carrying four poles with a big grin on his face.

We played tag with Texas and Brother-in-law. They got to campsite 119 first and scared off a mother and three cubs from the campsite. Texas and Brother-in-law headed on to the dam. After getting camp set up Troy and I saw them again down at the bottom of the creek bed. We had another group of five guys that came in later in the evening. One of them yelled on the way in "There's the three stooges." We knew they had talked to Brother-in-law on the trail! Another good campfire night! It sure felt great to be back in our hammocks after all those shelters.

Day Five:

We climbed Shuckstack and the tower for some great views, then made the steep steady hike down to the dam.


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.