Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 13, James River (and done)

July 11th, 2012 No comments

7/11, 14.6 miles today

Ok, done for the year. It’s kind of sad now that legs are in great shape we can’t go on but a good shower will be nice.

As we were approaching Matts Creek shelter I came around a big tree as the trail turned a bit and looked down and something did not seem correct. It took a moment but I then jumped back and yelled, OK screamed like a girl. It was a 4′ rattler! Since it was stretched out at full length, it was not ready to strike so it kind of looked like an odd stick on the trail. Once it saw us it coiled up and started to rattle. We took a lot of cool photos and detoured off the trail around it. We told Sleeping Bear, who we found napping at the shelter about it and he thought he might go back and get it to eat!

The trail after Matt Creek flattened out as we approached the James River. Funny how we could see the foot bridge across the river but it seemed to take forever to get there. This is the longest foot bridge along the AT at 1000′. Oddly it is dedicated to “William Foot”.

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 12, Thunder Hill Shelter

July 10th, 2012 No comments

7/10, 10.2 miles today

We had planned to get an early start this morning but it was raining so we kind of hunkered in a waited. We finally got on the trail by 10am as the rain mostly cleared. Today: 2500′ up, 500′ down, 1000′ up. Need I say more!

We stopped at Cornelius Creek Shelter for a break. We came across a series of FAA towers with radar dish covered in a big ball. We asked a guy walking out if we could get a tour but he turned us down. We walked under the famous “Guillotine”. This is where the trail runs under a 4′ rock that is wedged between two rock walls. It looks kind of like a guillotine blade ready to drop.

Water filter seems to be not working as well. It is allowing the water to flow backwards. I with only one more day of hiking, I’m not too worried. Sleeping Bear is here tonight and it is our last night so we have a good fire going. With extra food, we decided to have a “second” dinner. No rain today but it looks like it might get a bit cool tonight. I might put my silk liner in the bag tonight.

15 miles and out tomorrow!


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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 11, Bryant Ridge Shelter

July 9th, 2012 No comments

7/9, 13.5 miles today

Got a late start (9:30). Feet are sore from yesterday (and today). We stopped at Cove Mtn. Shelter for a break. It was overall a boring hike until we got to Jennings Creek. There, we went for a swim. As we packed up to go, we could hear thunder. A ½ mile up the trail (and I mean UP), it started to pour. The trails was taking us to a long ridge and we decided that hanging out on the side of a hill was better than along the top during a storm so I pulled out my tent fly for a little shelter and we sat with the thunder and lightning around us for 20 minutes.

We got to the shelter and found a fellow hiker, “Comeback Kid”. He had passed a while back so we thought we would not see him again but he took a detour into Buchanan. “Sleeping Bear” is here too. We had been following him in the shelter log books so it fun to catch up and meet him. We saw a 5′ long “Rat” snake near the shelter. This is a good sign that the shelter will not have mice. Also saw a boxer turtle along a ridge after it rained. Not sure what the turtle was up on the ridge. It just seemed odd. There is a giant 5′ diameter spider web near the shelter. We took photos but I’m not sure how they will come out. This shelter is real nice. One of best I have ever seen. It’s clean, dry, 2 stories/3 levels and right next to a creek. On a rainy day you could fit 20+ hikers here. Sleeping Bear has set up his tent inside the shelter.

It looks, based on current miles/day that we will be off the trail one day early.



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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 10, Bobblets Gap Shelter

July 8th, 2012 No comments

7/8, 18.5 miles today

Wow, 18.5 mile hike today! Coming out of Daleville we had fresh legs and full tummies. We stopped at Fulhardt Shelter. Water there was from a cistern and stunk so we avoided it. We got to Wilson Creek Shelter and decided to push on to Bobblets (another 7.3 miles!). We found some time to soak our feet in a small creek (aah). The fish would nibble at ones toes. We crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) a number of times. I told Lexi to look “tired, pathetic and sad” hoping that someone would stop and offer us a drink or something. No such luck. About 4 miles before Bobblets, we started hearing thunder. Lexi was being sluggish so took the lead and turned it into high gear. We made good time but we still got rained on. We did to get to the shelter before the real heavy stuff.

As we got near the shelter, we could hear singing and yelling down the hill. We turn down the blue blazed trail to the shelter and found two college girls dancing and singing. I think they were a little embarrassed as we walked into camp. Their trail names were “Firefly” and “Frankin Foot” and heading south bound. Cleary Frankin Foot was named after her duck taped up, falling apart, boots that she need to replace when they got down to Daleville. Lexi seemed to enjoy chatting with the girls. It’s been raining since we got here so I hope it clears by morning.


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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 9, Daleville

July 7th, 2012 No comments

(This day is missing from by handwritten blog so it has been recreated from memory)

Off to a good day today. We knew we would be spending the night in a real bed, have real food and be able to take a shower so our spirits were high. We keep looking for “Hay Rock”, thinking we found it only to be outdone by bigger rock outcrop farther down the trail. But, when we got to the one sticking up 40 or so feet, we knew we found it.

It was really HOT today. Even on flat ground I had to often just find a rock and sit for a bit. I was really pumping the water but it did not help as much as would have expected.

When we got to Daleville by midafternoon the sign on the bank said it was 102°. We checked into our room and just sat for a bit. We cooled off, took showers put on some clean clothes and headed off to the store. We got some food, junk food, drinks and yes, Lexi got a ½ watermelon. We headed back to our room to enjoy it. When it cooled off we went back out and pigged out for dinner at the Three Li’l Pigs Barbeque joint!

Cleaned all our dirty clothes and are in real beds tonight. Night-Night!

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 8, Lambert Meadow Shelter

July 6th, 2012 No comments

7/6, 8.4 miles today

(This day is missing from by handwritten blog so it has been recreated from memory)

We slept well last night and got an early start. With the sun rising we wanted to be sure to get to McAfee Knob before any rain moved it. We got there about 9. What a great place to get views and take lots of photos! Beside the famous “out over the edge” cliff, there are also cliffs around the back side so you can get a 270° range of views. What a great place but after 30 or so minutes, we had to move on.

We took a break (like we do a most shelters) at Campbell shelter and moseyed on to Tinker Cliffs. Tinker Cliffs is about 180° from McAfee and in fact if you look hard you can see one from the other. There are nice views there as the trial follows the cliff edge for a ¼ mile or so.

Again, it was HOT today. Next year I’ll have to bring more electrolyte based powder mix to help.

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 7, Catawba Mountain Shelter

July 5th, 2012 No comments

7/5, 14.6 miles today

(This day is missing from by handwritten blog so it has been recreated from memory)

Ok, this is a day to remember. We got off to a good start even haven been beaten a lot by the heat yesterday. We got to Dragons Tooth by 10:30. The views were great and the rock outcrop was spectacular. However, I was starting to feel the same exhausted feeling of yesterday but this time, it was only 10:30 in the morning.

The climb down from Dragon Tooth is like going down a cliff. Often you are only on a 6″ ledge. Often you have to use the provided steel ladder rungs in the rock face. It was real slow and real hot. I could not get enough water to keep me cool. I really was feeling not tired but empty.

We got to the bottom, exhausted, at about noon. There is a local convenience store just down the road. We dragged ourselves there. By the time I got to the cash register to check out I had already consumed a hotdog and 16oz Gatorade. We sat outside and continued to eat (I had a burger and Fresca too). Al was looking a bit beat so as we sat and talked he decided that he was just took warn out to continue. We discussed staying the night at the hostel up the road but he felt that just one night would not get him back on track so he was going to call a taxi, get back to his car and head home. Sadly Lexi and I left him at the store and head on. At the trail head, we met some other hikers who were discussing plans and we found out that the forecast was for real bad storms. Should we be heading up to the ridge tops with a storm coming? After careful thought, we decided to move on. We had rested about 2 hours and after filing up with LOTS of Gatorade my electrolytes were back in check and I was ready to move on.

[post hike note: for some reason, we neglected to take any last minute photos of the store or departing Al]

The trail took us right into some long HOT (100° or so) stretches of open pasture. Perhaps I was not as ready as I thought? We pushed on to John Spring Shelter but due to lack of water there, we continued on (and up) to Catawba Shelter, spent.

Having a fresh stock of real and junk food for dinner tonight is making us feel good but I’ll be sure to take some Advil PM before hitting the sack.

It will be a short hike up to McAfee Knob tomorrow for some great photo opportunities.

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 6, Pickle Branch Shelter

July 4th, 2012 No comments

7/4, 10.1 miles today

(This day is missing from by handwritten blog so it has been recreated from memory)

Lexi got her first bee sting ever today. I was a little worried that she might have some reaction but there was not a problem.

The heat and climb today was exhausting. Al and I took the climb up Brush Mountain real slow. Not because we were being careful but because we had too. It seemed like we stopped every 100′ or so. Lexi as usually was like a rabbit. Often we would come around a corner and find her sitting relaxing waiting for us. It was not helped by all the trees down. Every tree down breaks what stride you have. Sometimes you have to climb up or down an embankment 20′ just get around it.

As we got to the top of the Brush Mtn, we found an old grass covered road and took a break. Just to stretch my legs I took a short walk down the road only to find a real road and someone camping. After being invited in, I was offered snacks and a cold drink. I accepted and carefully asked if my other hiking partners could also partake. Not a problem, I went back, got Al and Lexi. We relaxed, cooled off and chatted for a while. Want a nice trail angle.

At the top of Brush Mtn is a monument to Audie Murphy the most decorated WWII war veteran who crashed there. It seems to be hiker thing to place a rock there as there are carefully piled rocks on and round the monument. We got to Trout Creek and decided to take a swim. It was real nice to cool off. It would have been better if it was at the end of our hike as we had to load up and head back up a 1000′ hill to get up to the shelter.

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 5, Niday Shelter

July 3rd, 2012 No comments

7/3, 18.2 miles today!

(This day is missing from by handwritten blog so it has been recreated from memory)

There are still lots of downed trees on the trail. It must have been one hell of a storm. We got some great views from Kelly Knob. The trail crossed under the Keffer oak tree. This is really old tree. I would guess 6′ in diameter. I was however not as tall as I expected, perhaps 100′ tall or such. Perhaps, this and the fact that is located in a low between two hills that has allowed it to live so long.

We found large carefully constructed towers of flat rocks on the top of Sinking Creek Mountain. Each one different but all of them clearly more than just tossed in place. It is not clear what these were for. [Post hike research says these are just piles of stones from clearing the area for apple trees]

We reached to blue blaze trail to the Sarver shelter. Tired, getting late, looks like might rain, 6 more miles to next shelter, what do we do? Continue on to Niday Shelter of course. (be it mostly downhill). It follows the Eastern Continental Divide for a while.

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Appalachian Trail, 2012, Day 4, War Spur Shelter

July 2nd, 2012 No comments

7/2, 12 miles today

Ok, so much for my forecast last night. It rained like hell with thunder and lightning. Good thing I had put up the full tent anyway. We woke to a nice clear day. So, back across the river via the zip-line we go. We sent Lexi first. She chose to go over with the pack on her back (which she may have done last night). Halfway across, she manages to flip backwards, doing a full flip with her pack on. The water was only hip deep so she stood up and then fell back down again. I quickly ran in (with my boots on) and dragged her out. She was shaken and wet but the good news was that very little in her pack got wet.

So after Lexi changed and I put dry socks on, we correctly crossed the zip-line (with our packs attached to the provided hooks) and headed off at 9:30. It was an uphill climb out but I had slept well and felt good. The trail was full of loose rock which makes getting a good pace difficult. We stopped a Wind Rock for a break and real nice views making it to the shelter about 6:30.

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