Tag Archives: adventure

The First Hundred Miles (Part 2)

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I continued to hike through Georgia I thought I would never make it to the boarder. I was slowly making head way. I could feel my legs had gain some strength from when I started out. I wouldn’t tire as easily as before. I was really curious as to how different the woods were going to change. I couldn’t wait to see the trees in full bloom too. Many hours later I finally made it across the boarder. I finally made it further than the 20% of the people who try this. In my opinion this is one of the many great accomplishments along the AT. Hiking this far with all the difficulties I had to deal with and encounter. It definitely changed the way I tackle things and my approach to challenges the trail gives you.

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Photo 04.03.18, 12 58 53 (1)

I continued on hiking as the evening started to come near. I few hikers that were hiking along with me ended up staying at Muskrat Creek Shelter. I decided to goto the next shelter up. I got about halfway there when I passed some hikers coming the opposite way. I asked them if they knew how much further the shelter was. They said it was up a ways but it was going to be crowded. I thought nothing of it. I have my tent after all. I proceeded forward. About an hour later I was almost to the shelter but I was getting tired not to mention the sun was starting to setting. So, I found a camp site a mile outside of the shelter I was figured on staying at. I heard people talking about solo camping and I was about to get a taste of it. 

I set my tent up on the flattest spot I could find. While I was setting up my tent I noticed a chipmunk on a dead tree about 15ft/4.5m checking me out as to what I was doing. I paid no attention to the little guy. I got everything set up and I crawled in the tent and sat there, thinking. What do I do now? Normally there are people to talk to but there is no one. I quickly got in my sleeping bag before my mind started playing tricks on me which I was already too late. I laid there waiting to goto sleep. Knowing I couldn’t goto sleep because my guard was up and I was getting stressed out. I smoked some weed hoping that would help me relax. One thing I have learned in my meditation is that deep breathing can relax you very quickly. I guess that’s why they tell people with high anxiety to breath deep so they can calm down. So I started deep breathing. I slowly started to feel by body relax. I heard the wind outside blowing and the leaves rustling. I tried to block it from my mind but I couldn’t seem to. I was getting more relaxed yet I kept hearing noises outside the tent. Paranoia starting to toy with me. Thinking that there was a large animal outside my tent. I kept hearing the leaves move around quickly then stop then go again then stop. I didn’t know what was out there but I kept my eyes closed and tried to focus on my breathing. I had the childlike mentality, out of site out of mind. The leaves got louder and louder. I knew something was coming up to my tent and fast. I just laid there frozen not knowing what I should do. Then all of a sudden something hit the tent behind my head. I quickly hit the tent wall behind my head and stayed there. Frozen with paranoia. My blood started pumping and my heart started racing. I started to try and rationalize what happened and what the hell hit the tent wall. Was my mind making it all up?  As I laid there thinking as to what it could have been I started doing some deep breathing to calm me down and get me to think clearer. In my amazement I ended up thinking it was that chipmunk that was checking me out. Not sure what to make of the tent he was probably cautiously coming to the tent. When he his the tent I scared him by hitting the wall back. I didn’t hear any more noises other than what the wind was doing to the leaves. 

I woke up with the shining of a somewhat full moon. I wasn’t sure what time it was since it was cold and my phone wasn’t working right. Lithium batteries hate cold wether. I laid there for a few minutes mentally preparing myself for the day. I was going to get my first 100m/160km and there was going to be a really steep incline I would have to overcome too, Mt. Albert. I got out of my sleeping bag and made some oatmeal. I quickly ate that and started packing everything up. I got out of the tent and the woods looked tremendous. The moon was bright enough to cast a shadow over the trees. I heard an owl hooting as I started getting my tent all packed away. I got back on the path and then a funny thought came to my mind. What if I only slept a few hours and because of the situation the few hours prior to sleeping, I woke up because of nerves or if it was a few hours before sunrise. I stood there thinking. Was my mind making that all up or is the sun really about to come up? I said they hell with it. If it is 22:00 and only got a few hours sleep then I guess this is going to be one long day. I started hiking again and trying to figure out the time cause it was really messing with my mind. After about an hour of hiking I started seeing some light in the distance. I was glad to see the sun. I was looking forward to warmer weather. 

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The more I hiked the more it seemed like I kept going up. When would this madness stop? I spoke to soon. Blood Mountain was the first difficult obstacle on the AT. Mt. Albert (5,250ft/1,600m) was the steepest incline the trail has thrown me. Forget using trekking poles. This is more hands on but a bit more difficult seeing my backpack has my balance off. Nevertheless I conquered it took a much needed break afterwards. 

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Photo 05.03.18, 12 43 44

I ended up hiking 17.2m/27.6km that day and stopped at Long Branch Shelter. I started a fire and slowly hikers started walking in. They all could smell the smoke of the fire. There was some rain coming in that didn’t hit until later that night. I didn’t care. I was dry and warm in my sleeping bag. Some hikers and I saw that the rain was going to stop around noon so we just stayed there waiting it out. When the rain stopped we were the only ones that were not wet. Everybody else had hiked in the rain. We were almost to Wallace Gap where there was a shuttle that would take us to Franklin NC. We were very much looking forward to a buffet. 

The First Hundred Miles (Part 1)

Excited about the day and my journey. I was fully rested and was fully resupplied. I started hiking up and over Rocky Mountain. Up and down the whole day went. I finished up my 17m/27km hike around 15:00 when I got to Dick’s Creek Gap. I came out to the road a few minutes after this other hiker from Czech got to the road. He said there was a hostel down the road about 1m/1.6km. I was tired and didn’t feel like hiking up hill anymore so I followed him to the hostel. I wasn’t sure what a hostel in the US much less on the Appalachian trail looked like. I’ve only seen a few hostels when I traveled overseas to Germany and France. So, part of me went cause I was tired and the other part was curious. When I got there a few ladies were inside. I was told to leave my backpack, trekking poles and shoes on the porch. When I came back inside one of the ladies when over the cost and rules around there. Most of the rules at these hostels are pretty much the same. No loud noise by 22:00. Breakfast is at this time, if they serve breakfast. Washing your clothes costs this much. Some hostels had a little resupply shop. This one I stayed at did. Seeing I already resupplied I didn’t need to even look at what they had.

I paid them the money to stay and I went to the building where I’ll be staying. When I entered there were several hikers sitting at the table eating and talking about their trip so far. Some of them knew me and we exchanged greetings. The first room to the right I took. It had three bunk beds. I took the top one in the back. They even had hooks where you could hang your backpack. I started getting a few things out and ready. I pulled out my sleeping bag and got my toiletries situated for night time. I walked back in the kitchen with my food bag where the other hikers were talking. I pulled out a few things. Realizing I had mostly junk food and nothing really substantial I started to pay attention to what other people were eating and getting when they resupplied. As I took a few mental notes I started boiling water and I started cooking a few things in my food bag. I had some chocolate peanut butter flapjacks and some brown sugar oatmeal. The flapjack’s were in a cup and you just had to add warm water. After I did that it looked pretty watery so I added some brown sugar oatmeal. What a game changer that was! It was amazing and it didn’t last for very long. After I inhaled that I was hungry for more but just snacked on a few Kind bars before I stopped. As the sun started to set I was getting tired. So I crawled in my sleeping bag and passed out.

The next morning I woke around five. It seemed everybody was still sleeping. I wanted to take a shower so I could start the day off fresh. I grabbed my contacts and the towel the hostel gave me. As I was showering I was thinking that other people would start waking up. By the time I got out of the shower it was still the same. Nothing but farting and snoring from other hikers. I crawled back in bed and started looking back at some of the pictures I took. The sun came up and slowly did the hikers. By eight I was starting to get hungry. I wanted to see what kind of cereal we had to choose from and get some coffee. I walked in and grabbed my breakfast. I sat down and started talking with the ladies that ran the hostel. Some other hikers walked in and grabbed some food. We were seeing what everybody was planning for that day. Some hikers had to stay due to injuries. I was planning on heading out that morning. My hike started later than I wanted it to but I also was wanting a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning. I was getting closer to crossing the boarder to North Carolina and getting my first 100m/160km.

To Hiawassee

The next morning I woke up and hit the alarm. I wasn’t ready to hike in the rain. Perhaps it’ll stop in an hour. An hour later the buzzing begins. I hit the alarm again and stretch. I get out of bed and get my socks and pants on. I can’t wait to have a big breakfast before my hike starts. I get in the kitchen and start cooking the bacon. About eight strips total. Later I use the bacon grease for cooking the eggs. I’m sure I’ll have this all burned off me within a day or two. As the food is cooking I’m slowly getting other things packed up and ready to go. Fifteen minutes later breakfast is served. As I eat I hear the rain outside. It’s a light rain. I didn’t mind hiking in that. I finish my food and wash the dishes. I clean up as much as possible. Packed the last bit of stuff. Got my rain jacket on and headed out the door. I went up to the main office to see the weather for the day and the next few days. Looks like I have a big rain storm coming in fast. I check my book to see how far I’m planning on hiking. Rain is going to be coming in around 11 that morning. I need to get to Low Gap shelter before then. One thing I have noticed while hiking the AT is that once I get in my head how far I’m going to go, that’s all I think about. Getting there as quickly as possible. I left the porch with the WiFi and I hit the trail. With my headlamp on and my rain jacket over top half of my body I started out into the rainy darkness.

Watching each step cause I didn’t want to slip. It takes me a second to figure out where the trail goes next but once I do it doesn’t take long to get back in the swing of things. The rain comes and goes as does the fog. My mind starts playing with me as my paranoia starts to kick in. As I’m hiking I’m thinking that there is some big animal out there just stalking me. Waiting for the best time to jump out and kill me. When in reality, there is nothing out there I really need to worry.

I come to a road that I need to cross. This road looks like your typical road in the mountains. Parking lot across the street with a sign of different paths along the way. I see a hiker in the fog waiting for a car to hitch a ride. I chat with him for a few minutes. Found out he hiked the AT before and now he just does sections. He tells me it’s not much further to the next shelter, Low Gap. The shelter I’m hurrying to get to. I check the time. It’s 10 o’clock and I have to get there quick. I try to get a good pace going but it’s hard to when the terrain keeps changing from up to down hill. Before I knew it it started raining. The first big rain storm of my hike. It’s fun but horrible at the same time. As the rain comes down so does the temperature. I try and keep a decent pace regardless of how hard the rain comes down. By 12:30 I’m drenched. I quickly get in the shelter and start finding warmer things to put on. One of the things I put on is Columbia’s Omni heat thermals . The way this works is it reflects your body heat back on you. I put on my other set of clothes. Not long after I do this then four other hikers come up seeking shelter from the rain. They do the same thing shedding the wet clothes for some dry ones and start getting ready for the night. About an hour later of talking about their hiking experience a few more hikers pile in. Then a few more and then a few more. Before I knew it we had over ten tents set up and a full shelter. The hikers than came in shortly after I did, put up a tarp at the main opening of the shelter. Since it was windy and we had wet cloths we didn’t want to freeze during the night and hoped our clothes would dry off. I knew at that moment there wasn’t going to be any time

I couldn’t dry my clothes with the cold weather we’ve been having. I looked in my AT thru hiker book and saw there was a shuttle that would take you in town, Hiawassee.

The next morning most of the people in the shelter started packing their stuff. I woke up from hearing all the commotion. Since I didn’t get much sleep that night. I decided to do the same thing. It was a lot colder than my sleeping bag was rated (40f/4.4C) plus I had my new sleeping liner in there, a Rumpl blanket and my thermals on which helped the lower part of my body. The top half kept getting cold. No need to lay here freezing. Might as well get back to hiking. At least that way I can get my blood flowing again and warm up that way. With a few wet bags of clothes and my wet backpack I started hiking to Low Gap. I knew I could make it there by noon. A town was near by so I could resupply, dry my cloths, backpack and take a shower. At this point they all sounded amazing. After about an hour of hiking the sun started to rise up in the distance. The sky had a few clouds which helped reflect the light hitting it. I wish I had an awesome view where trees weren’t blocking the sun so I could get a few pictures. It was tremendous with all the colors of orange, dark blue, light blue, red and to top it all off I saw some pretty huge lakes in the distances from where I was walking. I didn’t even know they were there. I must have gone 2-3 miles/4.83 km and started feeling a lot better. I’m not sure if it was what I was looking forward to in a few hours, the sunrise or that I was finally warming up then again it perhaps it was all three.

I started going down hill quite a ways before I realized that I was near the road to go into town. As I kept ascending down I noticed a old van with a guy in it just sitting there. I start to think that this is either the shuttle or someone waiting for a church group. As I crossed the street the large man came out of the van. I asked him if I could get a ride in town. The other hikers I was with decided to keep moving forward. I’d figured I would catch up with them tomorrow. For now a nice shower and food was calling my name. So I dropped my bag off in the back of the van and sat in the front. I was off to Hiawassee.

On to the next few days

**forgot to mention. While in Stover Creek one hiker mentioned that there was a big rain storm coming and it would be best to get to the first town. Heavy rains and semi high winds I was told.

About an hour after the first guy left and a group of three people left I headed out on my first fifteen mile hike. One reason I left early is cause when I got to Stover Creek shelter it was starting to get dark. So, I wanted to make sure I had enough daylight to get there plus I was lower on food than expected since I ate some the first night. I did rather well for a while. Got some good time on flat spots until I got to Blood Mountain.

Blood Mountain the first hard mountain to conquer on the Appalachian trail. I’m not sure if going up was harder than going down. Some of the angles going up we’re about 60-70° with stairs that some were as high as 1ft/30cm. Going down was a little different. Some spots the angle was the same

however the drops were much more. Some were from 1ft/30cm to 2ft/61cm.

After getting over this monstrosity and I saw the first shop we came to I was excited. More or less because I could take my backpack off and give my shoulders and back a nice break. I heard there were some mountain rentals available and filling fast so someone let me use their phone so I could call and reserve before I lost out. Once I got the reservation, I decided to go down there so I could drop my things and rest.

When I walked up to where the office was at I noticed it was the basement of this mountain house and it looked a lot like an old country store. A lot like the country stores in the mountains of North Carolina. The people who ran the place lived above the office.

I told the lady at the counter that I was there for two nights. Since that storm was coming I didn’t mind taking a zero day (zero day meaning no hiking) after all I was so sore from Blood Mountain. Got the keys, some pizza they made there and some eggs and bacon for breakfast the following day. Walking back to the cabin I was hurting. However I was excited. I had a whole pizza and cabin. The pain didn’t feel like it was there.

The cabins were small. When you walked in the stairs were close to the front door and to the left was a bedroom. A very small bedroom with barely enough room for a queen sized bed, night stand and dresser. In fact looking at it from the family room they just added the wall and roof to make the room. The upstairs had the same stuff but looked like it had a bit more room. The rest of the house had plenty of room to move around. It looks like a nice little get-away house.

I put the pizza down, took my shoes off and sat on the couch. I started devouring it. Two slices down and my body is still highly stressed out from the backpack so I decide to take a shower. There is something about taking a shower and afterwards feeling like a million dollars. Boy oh boy did I feel like a million dollars. I went and ate three more slices. I started to feel full and also realized I didn’t have anything to eat for my zero day other than breakfast so I saved the rest.

The Journey begins

A few days ago I started my hike across the Appalachian Trail. I had a late start than I originally wanted.

This was taken the first full day I hiked on top of Springer Mountain. I’ve hiked in the woods before but never have I hiked with 35 lbs on my back. I’ll post more later. I’m still pretty tried from hiking Blood mountain which was this toughest hike so far.

Back at it with more thru hiking tips

When hiking you need a great backpack. You can get lots of great information online but  getting your hands on it and feeling the material is always a plus for me not to mention pictures can be tricky at times. Believe me I know. I do a lot of photography. Once you get something that fits you right here are a few tips you’ll need to know on your backpack plus a few other tips.

  1. The hip belt carries about 70-80% of the pack weight (wish this was on my backpack when I was going to school). Have this tighter than any belt on your backpack. If not then you’ll have more weight pulling down on your shoulders and back thus resulting in a painful hike. You might quit before you get a good start.
  2. The hip belt should be about three fingers below the belly button.
  3. If you notice on your backpack you have a check strap. It has a whistle on it. Three blows from this and it will indicate to nearby hikers that you need help.
  4. When you stop for the night be sure to do some leg stretching. This will help you prevent from getting leg cramps while you sleep.
  5. People have a few ways of cooking food along the trail. I’m going to be taking the pocket rocket and with that you’ll need some fuel. A medium gas canister (230g) will last you about 2-3 weeks. Depending on your usage.
  6. Some people will use denatured alcohol and a tuna can instead to cook their food. You can use alcohol rubbing strips as well. Here is more information on that here. Remember to know what your doing before you do it. You don’t want to burn yourself, others or the woods.
  7. When your hiking with your water reservoir, use a three liter bag but fill it only with two liters. This way it will evenly flatten out the water in the bag so you won’t have a huge bulge in your backpack.
  8. It the last list I mentioned hanging your food in a tree from bears. This video will show you how. This method can also be used on the AT as well as other hiking trails as long as there are trees around.

I hope both these lists help you in your future hiking adventure.

A few Appalachian Trail hiking tips

As I’ve been reading I’ve been learning lots of different tips before I hit the trails that will defiantly help out. I also am writing this down because I know later on I’ll come back because I can’t find my notes. I try to disconnect myself from technology when possible so I do things the old school way and write things down on paper vs the computer.

  1. When getting shoes/boots get a half to full size bigger than you normally get. This will help your toes from hitting the front of your shoes/boots when hiking (especially down hill)
  2. Trekking poles will help with your balance and stability. I have asked lots of hikers (past and present) on if they used trekking poles and they all said it helped them greatly from falling and/or eased the pressure on their knees.
  3. Before you cross a river make sure you unbuckle your waste strap and chest strap.  If you happen to fall in the water you can easily take your pack off without going with your pack. Some water currents can get pretty brutal so watch out.
  4. Never get shoes that are stiff from the toe to heel. The trail isn’t fast and it will result in more foot injuries and issues which can slow your progress.
  5. Hang your food bag each night in a tree away from where you sleep incase bears come in your camp site. Keeping your food in a bag helps with looking for it and keeps it all together. Also remember to take your rope about twenty five feet should be enough.
  6. Using Permethrin helps repelling ticks and other critters up to forty two days and is for gear only. Use products with deet only on yourself to get the mosquito’s and other flies away from you.
  7. When washing your sleeping bag, down sleeping bags need to be washed in a front loader only. Top loaders with the center agitator can tear the baffles that hold the compartments that hold the feathers.
  8. Nikwax is used when washing to retain the oils in the feathers in any clothing/sleeping bag.
  9. When it comes to drying your down sleeping bag, use two tennis balls on delicate heat. The tennis balls prevent the feathers from clumping which can cause a loss in loft. I’m not sure if this is the same for down clothing. Please send comments if this is the same.
  10. If you feel the need to rest then rest. It’s not a race so enjoy your time with nature. It has much to teach you.
  11. Don’t multi task while hiking. You can easily stub your toe on a rock or walk off the ledge if your fiddling with your phone or trying to get something out of one of your side pockets in your backpack.
  12. It will rain on you, a lot so prepare for the rain. It’s best to keep things in separate bags. Food bag, Sleeping bag bag (last thing you want to do is sleep in a wet sleeping bag), tent bag, ect..

As I continue to read I’ll make and post more tips to help future hikers.

For the sponsors that responded I greatly appreciate it. Every little bit helps plus I get to try different things that I never heard of before. Which will aid me in future backpacking adventures. I do plan to have many, many more.