Sunday, December 13, 2015

AT - Albert Mtn. to Nantahala Outdoor Center

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.

Day Two:

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.

Day Three:

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.

Day Four:

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.

Day Five:

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

AT- Dick's Creek Gap to Albert Mountain

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.

Day two:
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.

Day Three:
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.

Day Four:
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.

Day Five:
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

Long Hunter X

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

Bear Den / Walls of Jericho

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!


Friday, January 30, 2015

Cummings Falls / Standing Stone State Parks

Cummings Falls 1.35 Miles                                           Outcast Total Miles: 1794.93
Lake Trail 5.2 Miles
Total 6.55

We tried to knock out a couple of parks on this hike.  We started at Cummings Falls State Park. They have done a lot of work for a new park.  They have an extremely large gravel parking area and a nice looking bathroom built.  The trails are clear and trash free.

At the parking lot we met a guy and he was asking if we had any information on this park.  After telling him that we did not he headed out.  We hiked the Overlook trail, Shortcut, and Downstream Trail to the creek.  The map shows that it stops there, but I guess you can walk all the way to the falls?  We walked down the rocks along the side of the creek to another small fall on the other side of the creek. After that we turned around.  We met the guy again and this time he told us that he had hiked this area before when they first opened it. OK? We went back up and to the falls on the top. Beautiful falls!  We walked to the top of the falls and explored the area before taking the Upstream trail back to the parking area.

After this hike we headed to Standing Stone State Park.  We checked in for the campground and then hiked the Lake Trail around Kelly lake. It is a well used trail and in good condition. There is one area that they have some wires down on the trail.  Being firefighters, we treated them as hot and moved around them. We passed another hiker that said the wires have been there for a couple of weeks and that they were working on them.

They obviously have beavers who like to cut down trees.  We saw lots of places where they have worked and a large dam they built on the South side of the lake on Morgan Creek.

There is maintenance being done on the main dam at this time.  They have scaffolding up along it.

There is an 8 mile loop "Cooper Trail" off of the Lake trail that is on State Forest land.  The lady at the office said that it is not marked well or maintained and that people have gotten lost on this trail. She recommended that we did not hike that trail. The closest trail head is at the Overton Lodge for this loop.

We stayed the night in the campground. We were the only ones there for some reason? In the morning we woke up to some light sprinkling rain.  Troy said a storm was moving in, there was a national weather service warning and the schools were running late / closing due to weather. We did a quick pack up and headed home.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cedars of Lebanon / Long Hunter

Bryant Grove Trail 8 miles                                                Outcasts Total Miles: 1788.38

Hidden Springs Trail 5 miles
Campsite to trailhead 1.2 miles
Total Miles: 14.5 miles

Trying to hit up some State Parks that do not have overnight backcountry sites, we took Marco's camper out.  The weather did as usual and dropped down to 4 degrees for us.  We went to Cedars of Lebanon State Park and set up the camper. After we got it set up we headed to Long Hunter State Park and hiked the Bryant Grove trail.  We have not done any of the trails on the South side of the park.
The Bryant Grove trail is four miles long one way. It goes along the shore of Percy Priest lake.  It is a flat trail that goes through different Eco systems along the lake.  We stopped for lunch along the way.  For some reason we only saw one other person on the trail and he was running it.

When we got back we headed to Cedars of Lebanon again for the night.  This time instead of a fire, we had two small heaters in the camper.  We didn't have a 50amp adapter for the trailer and they only had one plug with a 20amp fuse. So we had to take turns using a heater, or the oven, or the skillet.  Anyways, we had a Troy's Famous Fried Chicken dinner with potatoes and corn on the cob. Life was good!

The next morning we got up and after a great breakfast of bacon, eggs, and biscuits, we hiked to the Hidden Springs trailhead.  This trial goes through many Eco systems with the highlights being the caves and underground springs. Marco showed me on my own daypack that I have a built in whistle. I have had this pack for a couple of years now and never noticed it. Then Lora looked and we have them on our backpacks as well.  Pretty slick!

We headed back to camp and started getting the trailer ready to leave.  When we went to lower the top nothing happened.  Not good! We ended up having to take a couple of panels off from under the camper to gain access to the cranking mechanism to lower the camper.  Anything for entertainment.