Archive for March, 2011

Day 17

Sassafras Gap to Cody Gap. 12 miles. Wanted to go a little further and have a nice short day into Fontana tomorrow, but the weather was kind of lousy all day and there are friends stopped here too. No shelter just tenting. Will still make Fontana no problem, just on a normal day rather than a short one. Hoping I can get a room one way or another, but options may be limited.

Everything is dirty, starting to look like a real thru-hiker now! The things that matter are all dry though, doing fine in that regard. Most of the dirt came from last night’s dusty dirty shelter anyway, not so much the hiking parts.

One guy I started on the same day with might be getting off soon. He was really miserable today and on top of lousy weather and low morale, he lost his glasses. I have I think a great picture of him next time I’m posting people pictures. Hope things turn around for him and he sticks with it. There are people I haven’t seen for a while who might or might not still be hiking, but so far I don’t know of anyone who for sure has quit.

Location:Appalachian Trail,Robbinsville,United States

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Day 16

Started from A. Rufus Morgan shelter, made it about 8 miles to Sassafras Gap shelter. The last 7 of those were uphill. This is the fourth Sassafras Gap the trail has crossed, but the first with a shelter.

Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) was about a mile in today. It’s an interesting place, kind of a mall for outdoor activities in the middle of nowhere (but on a highway, so not really nowhere). I had a cheeseburger and fries and electricity for my phone. Dave and Christy (no trail names yet) had lunch with me too.

Shadow and Country Mouse were there, had gotten there last night and were taking a zero today, CM’s sister was out there going on a kayaking trip. Didn’t meet her, but I saw her in the crazy little kayaks they had. Some other hikers too, like Leap who I hadn’t seen since day 3.

Location:Appalachian Trail,Robbinsville,United States

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Days 14 & 15: Thump!

Yesterday was Winding Stair Gap to Wayah Bald, 11ish miles. Today was a huge day, all the way to A Rufus Morgan Shelter, 15.5 mikes! Tomorrow should be shorter but almost all uphill.

Someone at camp tonight asked “Have any of you heard that weird thumping noise?”. Yes, most of us have, and we all thought we were going crazy. It’s kind of like a helicopter but starts out wirh one thump then several more getting faster and faster until it stops. It only lasts a few seconds, and it’s not very loud. We’ve all been hearing it for the last several days.

Weird, right? Glad someone asked!

Update: googled it while I have electricity. It is probably the sound of a ruffed grouse taking off: http://sectionhiker.com/close-encounters-with-spruce-grouse/

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Faces

Some people from the trail.


Me! At the NC border.


Angie and Mike, who were there when I got there.


Flute Walker and Country Mouse.


Shadow and me.


Coaster and Warbler.

Location:Sloan St,Franklin,United States

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Day 13: Franklin

Hiked just under 4 miles to get to Franklin, NC today. Actually to Winding Stair gap, where Ron Haven, a trail celebrity of sorts, drove up in his shuttle and picked a bunch of us up. It was raining all morning, and still is, leading to me not wanting to do my resupply, which might mean I’ll take a zero tomorrow, or another “nearo” but I wasn’t expecting to get here till tomorrow anyway! Ron runs the shuttle out to groceries etc too, but at the moment I’m enjoying this instead:


At the Blue Ridge Roadhouse right by my motel. (Said motel is owned by Ron Haven)

I’ll try to get more pictures up later, didn’t think to bring my camera down here, just my phone. Oh well!

Location:Sloan St,Franklin,United States

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Day 12: A Hundred Miles

Carter Gap shelter to Rock Gap shelter. Crossed 100 miles today! I have a picture at about the 100 mile point, but the location is not marked at all.

Feeling pretty good, yesterday and today were both pretty tame except for one super hard but short stretch up Albert Hill.

Should make Franklin tomorrow morning.

Location:Sloan St,Franklin,United States

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Days 10 & 11: North Carolina

Yesterday I left Hiawasee and got back on the trail at Dick’s Creek Gap. My plan was to stop just across the North Carolina state line at Bly Gap. There had been afternoon thunderstorms predicted. I got there around 4, my first state line! Hurray! But then I pressed on to Muskrat Creek Shelter instead. That was 3 more miles, and just about the toughest 3 miles yet. It’s like NC decided it needed to one-up Georgia right out of the gate.

But I made it. The shelter was full, so I started setting my tent up right away since it was looking more and more like rain, though it was evening by then. As I was setting up, the rain finally started. I only got a few drops on me and my stuff before I got my tent up and everything thrown inside, including myself. Good thing, it was pouring within minutes and went on for half an hour, plus more later that night. After that climb, I slept almost right away and for 12 hours.

Also, my boots were literally steaming when I took them off. No joke!

Today though was bright and sunny all day, and the climb up Standing Indian Mountain was not hard at all even though it’s the highest point between the trail’s start and the Smokies. It’s COLD and windy, but dry and my sleeping bag will be plenty warm. A good day, and so far I haven’t really had to hike in the rain at all, just one drizzly day on day 2. We’ve been very lucky weatherwise so far, let’s hope that holds!

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iPhone-Fu

Today, using just my phone, I managed to download GPSBabel source code, build it, use it to convert a GPX track into waypoints, and load the waypoints version into the Topo Maps app. It’s a fantastic app, it lets you download high res scans of USGS quads and do all sorts of things with them. Including overlaying GPX waypoints. But it doesn’t work well with GPX tracks yet, only waypoints. The distinction is not really clear to me either.

There are readily available downloads of the entire AT as GPX tracks. But not as waypoints. That’s why I had to go through all that.

The other app that let me do all that was iSSH, which I blogged about before. I didn’t really do all that “on my phone” of course, it was on a remote Linux box. But I did it all from my phone.

So anyway, I can now view the entire trail clearly labelled, with shelters marked, on top of high res topo maps. It’s much better than the dedicated GPS unit I sent home today.

Also, you don’t need any maps to hike the AT. It is very clearly marked everywhere and a guide book is really all you need. But I do still love gadgets even on my restricted electronics diet, so this was a fun exercise. I’ve looked at the maps on my phone and the GPS while out hiking to update my time estimates during the day, but at no point has it ever actually mattered!

Also also, I probably could have gotten putty running on the guest windows machine in the motel lobby and done all of this a hell of a lot faster, but what fun would that be?

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Day 9: Zero Day

Today was a zero day, meaning I didn’t hike at all. I did walk a couple of miles total around town, but without a pack on my back it doesn’t really count! Hung out with Shadow and Country mouse some more, who I ran into on my way into “ingles” supermarket (someday I hope to open a store next door named “spanish”). It was good to see them, I knew we were on about the same pace, but I hadn’t run into them for a few days. Also Flute Walker, Caveman and Ramblin’ Man.

Here are some random pictures while I’ve got wifi.


That’s basically everything that goes in my pack in about the order it goes in. The bottom of the pack is on the right. Most of it compresses way down.


That’s a random view from the trail. There are lots of random views like that. It’s beautiful. But…


This is what I’m actually looking at most of the time, lest I trip on a rock or a root. That’s my awesome Tilley hat at the top of the frame.


Finally there’s Lake Chatuge, on which Hiawasee sits, since I promised pictures of it yesterday. There are much better views driving into town, but I never wound up walking out that direction. It’s a lot bigger than this picture would have you believe, this is just one little finger of it.

Location:Sunnyside Rd,Hiawassee,United States

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Day 8: Hiawasee

Left Tray Mtn Shelter at 9AM, got to Dick’s Creek Gap around 4:15. No cell signal so started walking and tried to hitch a ride or get a signal, whichever came first. Finally got a signal about a mile later (only about 6 cars went by and didn’t stop) and got a shuttle to the motel here in Hiawasee ($10, thanks Gene!)

Planning on taking an extra day here. I don’t need it for resupplying or anything, but I took a poll of my body parts and they unanimously voted that they need a day off. I don’t feel bad really, just sore everywhere. My right leg is worse than my left and I sometimes have some back pain on that side too. I don’t know why, I need a sports doctor with a high tech imaging doohickey to watch me hike and tell me what I’m doing wrong. I was trying to adjust my pack today to where i feel like there’s more load on my left side, on the theory that when it feels balanced to me its actually heavier on the right. That might have been helping. Really though it still seems like normal aches and pains for walking with a pack all day, I’m not worried about it.

Dinner tonight was at the China Grill AYCE buffet, my first AYCE of I’m sure many. I only ate two plates though, what a noob! But then we got ice cream at DQ next door too. We being Ramblin’ Man, Walking Wally, and Angie and Mike who don’t have trail names yet. Fargo and Caveman were at dinner too but didn’t go for DQ.

Hiawasee is a nice little town on a lake, I’ll get some pictures tomorrow. There are much worse places to spend a day.

Location:Sunnyside Rd,Hiawassee,United States

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