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 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.


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.