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!