Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The "Ironman Hiker" and Poor Planning

Before starting our trek Straight Leg and I felt we had done a good job planning, we knew there were things that we had not thought of but for the most part we felt that we had things covered. We were carrying enough--but not too much--food, we had our gear portioned out between the two of us, and we knew where we were going (in other words we knew to follow the white blazes and we had our maps--not rocket science). These seemed like pretty standard planning items to us until we met the "Ironman Hiker".

In the parking lot at Springer Mountain we met a guy getting ready to start off on a stage hike of his own. His plan: to hike to the Georgia - North Carolina border and back in 7 days. I am sure he did not notice my jaw hit the ground--not because I felt it could not be done, not because it was approximately 150 miles round trip, and not because (for those of you who are simple math challenged like me) that would mean hiking almost 21.5 miles per day (keep in mind it is already noon on day 1).

Nope, I had my doubts for two main reasons...the first was that he was carrying a military style ruck sack that must have weighed in at more than 70 lbs (it must have felt like carrying a small elephant on his back). He commented that he did not know what to bring...so he brought everything!

What?!? Really, everything!?!

The second reason was that his opening question to us was "hey, do you know which way I am supposed to head on the Appalachian Trail?"
Ok, a little explanation:
The Springer Mountain parking lot is located on Forest Service Road 42 about 0.9 miles North of the Springer Mountain summit and the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. So to begin the hike you must hike South on the AT 0.9 miles to the Springer Mountian summit, then turn around and begin hiking North. The trail instructions/ directions at the parking lot are clearly marked.

If you want to hike to the North (he was planning on skipping Springer Mountain) and there is a white blazed trail heading North and a white blazed trail heading South...it seemed pretty clear to us which one to take.

We did not see the "Ironman Hiker" for the rest of the trip, we did however talk to someone who had seen him on day 3 at the Gooch Mountain Shelter (mile 15), heading South back to Springer Mountain...

He must have made better time than he thought...

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