Archive for June, 2008

Appalachian Trail – Day 14

June 25th, 2008 No comments

We got up around 8am. I had a Pop Tart breakfast and re-taped my knee up the best I could.

Most the day was downhill. My knee felt OK till about ½ way at Sassafras Gap shelter. After a break there, it started to get worse and I struggled with it most the day. I tried all sorts of things to help it but nothing seem to make it feel better. I was also short on Advil and only had two left for the entire day.

Needless to say, I did manage to make it to Fontana Dam around 3PM and my journey came to an end. We hiked down to the shelter first. NICE shelter? I see why they call it the “Fontana Hilton”. We then hiked to the Dam where my car was.

At the Dam, we took showers and hopped in my car to go find something to eat. We tried to find a greasy spoon were I could get a burger but only had modest success.

We hit the local Post here and Joe picked up his drop box. We also stopped at the small store next to it. I got food for the trip home and Joe picked up some snacks.

We headed back down the Dam and walked around a bit talking to a few other hikers that seemed to be hanging there. There we met “Wonderwoman”. She was also hiking northbound but at much slower pace. She statied that she was 100lbs overweight but she may have been overstating it a bit. I guess she would hike from town to town. And when she got to a town, she would stay for a few days. Needless to say, she we not making good progress on the trail but then again, I think she was enjoying herself. She also would “slackpack” a bit getting a ride up the trail, drop here pack off, get a ride back and then hike the trail without a pack. Again nothing wrong with this but it does slow things down a bit.

We left Wonderwoman as she slackpacked backwards to get the last 3 miles. After some last photos I dropped Joe off at the Fontana Hilton and said farewell.

I was sad to be leaving Joe. He was a great trail companion and I can not say enough how glad I was able to hike with him. I am sure that I would not have hiked at the pace we did if it were not for him. Not that we ever directly pushed each other but in a way I think we both wanted a little push. I wish him the best of luck and I am planning on sending him a surprise package of a few treats.

As the sun set, I drove across the dam and took a photo of the trail as it heads into the Smokies. That will be next year!

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Appalachian Trail – Day 13

June 24th, 2008 No comments

Again off early. 8 miles uphill. Day started good but my legs were a bit tight. The hill was not as bad as we had thought it might be but as I got to the top, my left knee was feeling a bit sore. We stopped at Cheoah Bald where I found some wild strawberries. YUM. As continued to hike downhill, my knee really started to hurt. By the time I got to Stecoah Gap, I was not sure if I could continue and was thinking of quitting.

After a rest and some discussion with Joe, we decided I have what amounts to “runners’ knee”. Lacking any sort of elastic bandage, I took out my handy gaffers tape (duck tape) and proceeded to shave my knee and wrap it up the best I could.

It was 3 miles to the shelter (Brown Fork) and the taping seemed to help but it was not easy. We got there about 6pm and the shelter was full of a bunch of kids from a local camp. Two of them were nice enough to stay in their tent so we could use the shelter.

The kids set up a big fire which was OK till bed time when the wind drifted the smoke into the shelter…

I hope my knee will be better in the morning as I have just 12 miles to go.

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Appalachian Trail – Day 12

June 23rd, 2008 No comments

We woke up early and quickly made our way down toward NOC stopping at “Jump Off” for a photo or two. We checked into the hostel and headed right to breakfast. Blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, juice.

After taking a shower and doing laundry, we just hung out all day. We ate lunch and dinner at the same restaurant. I had a raspberry beer with lunch and pizza and another beer for dinner.

It was a great day to just relax as we have a big 8 mile uphill day tomorrow.

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Appalachian Trail – Day 11

June 22nd, 2008 No comments

Turns out Marshall is not as much of true hiker as he tossed some garbage in to the fire pit rather then pack it out. I snuck it back into his pack before we left!

Rain sucks. Boots are still wet from yesterday. We hiked back up to Wayah Bald. It was kind of foggy/hazy so we hung around for the sun to burn a little of it off and took some photos. We could see Siler Bald where we had been yesterday.

Hiked lots of PUDs today (Pointless up and downs). Marshal had mention the he would be following us by we don’t think he will. A) he was still sleeping when we left and B) hiked in thunder storm which seems to freak him out. We figure he left the trail.

Like yesterday, it got cloudy in the afternoon and we had hoped to get to the shelter before it rained. And again, we did not make it and got soaked again. It started to rain at Tellico Gap. There is something odd about going uphill during a thunderstorm. The sun finally came out as we got to shelter. And unlike other shelters, the sun seemed to find its way through the trees and we were able to dry out wet clothes/boots out. We are planning a short hike back up to Wesser Bald to take in the sunset.

Hike a ridge that seemed to have had a forest fire with the last few years. Only older trees, anything smaller seemed to have been killed off.

My left big toe and index toe are feeling numb and tingly today. Not sure why. I thought it would go away after I took my boots off for a while but it has not. Feet in general are getting better now that I switched to thick socks. I’m still nursing a few blisters.

Tomorrow we have a 5 mile hike down to the NOC. We are planning on getting up early and make it there for breakfast (YUM). We plan on taking a ½ zero day at NOC, getting a bunkhouse, doing some laundry and taking a hot shower!

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Appalachian Trail – Day 10

June 21st, 2008 No comments

No mice last night which I found surprising and I slept great. Best night so far. I put my tent under my feet to keep them off the floor and took 3 Advil.

Hiking today was great! I switched to REI socks and my toes felt great all day. I guess the WrightSocks aren’t so right for me. Got some nice photos from the top of Siler Bald. We could see storm coming in and tried to hike fast to next shelter (Wayah Bald) before rain. No luck, we got poured on and soaked. We didn’t stop on top of bald (lightning) and proceeded on to shelter.

At the shelter we met Marshall. He was from George and had hiked a bit of the AT in NC and GA but didn’t care much for the lightning as he seems a bit distraught about it.

Great privy at shelter. Seems to have ADA approved handrails!

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Appalachian Trail – Day 9

June 20th, 2008 No comments

No mice last night but the family that stayed with us snored like truck. Ok the 12 year old boy did not snore but what I think were his grandmother and father really shook the ground. It was chilly but not as cold as last night. (still miss my fleece). We left Standing Indian early (7am) as we decided to have breakfast on top of Standing Indian Mountain. It was a nice view from there and we enjoyed our Pop Tarts.

Lots of “downhills” today and they are no longer my friends! We stopped at Carter Gap Shelter for a break and from the log book; we learned that Chris and Bryson had to abort their hike at Deep Gap. I feel sad for them.

Day was full of more ups and downs till we got to Albert Mountain. Started out with a good uphill then finished off with a ½ mile of REALLY steep uphill. I could not use my poles and resorted to pulling myself up on the rocks and a few trees. On top was an old fire tower and I took lots of photos.

Hiked 16 miles today! We are staying Big Spring Shelter. Not much of a spring however! Found some skeeters here but they are not too bad. I still have not used any DEET. If all goes well, we should be at Wesser on Monday and Fontana Dam on Wednesday.

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Appalachian Trail – Day 8

June 19th, 2008 No comments

Left Plum Orchard at 8:30. Started out downhill. It was kind of a rolly day till we got to Bly Gap. Crossed the border into NC! I took a photo of the famous tree at Bly. From Bly, it was a series of steep uphills. Got a great photo from a bluff past Sassafras. My feet were “OK” today. We got to the shelter (Standing Indian) about 4PM. Ended up being about 12 miles. We had a family staying with us as they forgot their tent for their 2 day hike. They had lived in Fishkill at one time and actually new the little town of Clinton Corners where I grew up. Small world.

The mice at Plum Orchard left some dropping around my head but I did not see or hear them. We will see if they come around with 5 in the shelter. It was cold again last night and I still miss my fleece. We heard that it was not supposed to be as cold for the following few nights.

My legs are starting to feel better everyday but still huffing and puffing on some hills.

We stopped at Muskrat Cheek Shelter today to sign and read the log. Seems Chris was having knee problems and someone had loaned him a knee brace to see if it would help.

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Appalachian Trail – Day 7

June 18th, 2008 No comments

Left Tray Mountain at 8:15. I had a good nights sleep as we went to bed before sunset (8:30). However I was a bit cold (48°) and was pissed that I sent my fleece back. I It was a nice hike downhill (But I’m starting to hate downhill. Crushes your toes into your shoes and beats on the knees.) Overall the hills today were not bad but it was a long day. We got to Plum Orchard at 5:30. A lot slower than yesterday. Got a nice photo from vista at campsite near McClure Gap. Met a bunch of folks here at shelter (staying in tents). I got a new blister on my ring toe. We are planning on only 10 miles tomorrow but my foot might be a problem. One of the couples we met had some extra trial mix and offered it to us. Being very short of trial snacks it took it. It was a great mix: Peanuts, Hazel Nuts, Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Sesame Sticks, Pretzel Sticks, M&Ms, Raisins, Dried Cherries, and I think dried cranberries. YUMMM

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Appalachian Trail – Day 6

June 17th, 2008 No comments

Woke up last night to the sounds of an (Barred) owl. Boy are they loud! Bill, who we met here on Tray Mountain, says they sound like they are saying “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”

Getting up each day is getting easier but still having trouble sleeping. My legs get aches and I have to keep moving/stretching them during the night.

Today was a good day for hiking. No rain! We did 16 miles that started by following an old road, up and over Blue Mountain, way down to Unicoi Gap, over Rocky Mountain and ended with an uphill climb to the top of Tray Mountain at about 5:30. I’m starting to “pace” better on the hills. Only broke out in complete sweat a few times.

It very windy on top of Tray but the wind seems to blowing at the back of the shelter. We met Bill from Atlanta. I’m guessing he is 85 and a retired IBM employee. He was very nice and full of information about the trail ahead.

As I got to the Blue Mountain Shelter, I found some trail workings doing some work on the shelter. They were bringing in supplies by helicopter. I got some photos…

Saw a bear on the way up to Tray. Didn’t get photo has it ran away quickly. I tried to call home but despite being on top of a tall mountain, I could not make a connection.

I got a good scare today. As I came around a corner I saw a big black think on the trail. I jumped, it barked. I took about 5 seconds before I also saw it had a green backpack and put it all together. It was a big black dog and its owner soon followed behind.

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Appalachian Trail – Day 5

June 16th, 2008 No comments

Chris and Bryson took off at 7AM this morning. Joe and I waited for the store to open at 8:30. We resupplied and paid for our Hostel stay. We decided to pack up for 7 days till we get to the NOC. I decided to shave a few pounds and sent my fleece, GPS and rain pants home. Only after we got on the trail did it occur to me that I should have tossed into the same box some gifts for the kids (darn-it).

My feet were sore this morning. I popped a blister or two and applied my best first-aid. The Tincture of Benzoin worked well to adhere the mole skin. I tried to put mole skin on the pinky blister but it just added too much pressure to my already too tight boots.

The trail out of Neels gap in a good uphill climb. My stomach started to feel odd so I slowed down and had a bit of trial snack. That seemed to make it feel a bit better. Meanwhile Joe keeps his pace so for the first time in a while I was hiking alone. I stopped on a rock cliff and did some more repair on my feet. Sun was out and it felt good. A short distance later I came to a rock vista and stopped to take in the view. Just then, it started to pour! I tossed on my pack cover and rain gear and ran. I looked up for the white blaze, it took a moment but I found one. Something did not seem right but getting off the mountain as the thunder started seemed too important to stop and think about it so I proceeded to run down the trail. I got perhaps as far as a mile down the trail when I ran in to a man and his grandson. He asked how far it was to the road. I explained to him that Neels Gap was perhaps 5 mile back. He then surprised me by saying that he had come from Neels Gap which meant that in my haste to get off the mountain, I had headed down the trail in the wrong direction. Coming down (the wrong way) I don’t think I ever looked up once. I had been too busy trying to avoid the 6” deep river on the trail (with little success). Now pissed off at myself, I said thanks to the man and headed back up the hill at nearly a running pace. I was so pissed….I got back to the rock vista and noted the mistake I made and headed down the hill the correct way. I lost perhaps an hour. The good news is that the rain was starting to let up and the river running down the trail was clearing so I could see ground again.

The day had one more larger hill just after Tensatee Gap. I was running low on water but managed to get to Hog Pen gap and got a refill. The sun had come back out and I had 4.5 miles left for the day. Looking at the topo maps, I decided that the rest of the day was generally flatter and I would try and see if I could pick up some time. Not that time really mattered but my feet were hurting and I wanted to came and dry them out. So I after a short stop I put the petal to the metal and used my higher speed “across the top” pace for both up and down hills. It took me about an hour and forty minutes to reach Low Gap Shelter. This turns out to be about 2.7 MPH. A real good pace. Perhaps this was a bad idea; I’ll see how I feel in the morning. Joe said that he had been there only about 30 minutes. He mentioned that he had seen a bear about ½ miles away….

My feet were soaked. All wrinkled up and the blisters had not gotten better. And to make it worse, the shelter get little sun so nothing was going to dry. So, we decided to try and get a fire started. After a bit of scavenging we found just enough wood, mostly wet twigs, to attempt to get a fire started. It took a bit but we finally got it going and started to at least partially dry out boots out. Wood didn’t last long but it was better than nothing.

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