Thursday, February 26, 2009

Want to hike with Croc and Straight Leg?

What is a typical day hiking with Croc and Straight Leg like?

Well first of all it is really boring, I mean so boring that it is more fun watching moss grow then hiking with Croc and Straight Leg . . . if they made a TV series about hiking with Croc and Straight Leg the cameramen and women would revolt, run, or fall asleep from boredom!

Here is a sampling of a typical conversation while hiking along the AT . . .

"hey Straight Leg"
"yeah Croc"
"look at that cool tree"

"hey Croc"
"yeah Straight Leg"
"look at that sweet rock"

See, not very after several days on the trail we begin to smell really badly. You know, the whole no place to take a bath thing.

And the views, solitude, camp fires, wildlife (especially the acorn toting squirrels), sunrises, and sunsets are quite boorish also.

So as you see hiking with Croc and Straight Leg is really boring, so what about camping with Croc and Straight Leg...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Haines, Alaska

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thoughts from Off the Trail

The most pervasive thought in my mind was that the trip was amazing, the time on the trail (and away from work) was so healing. The views were outstanding and the weather...despite the cold weather and high winds...was amazing, there was not a drop of rain the entire trip.

The trip enabled me to clear my mind and focus on something other than work.

What I learned:
  • 17 - 18 miles a day is too much for my 33 year old flatlander knees. 10 - 12 miles a day is perfect for having time to sleep in at the beginning of the day and wind down at the end of the day.
  • 1/2 pound of gorp will last 3 days.
  • Shoes make great storage for acorns.
  • 2 energy bars (I like Cliff and Odwalla) a day is good, 3 or 4 is better.
  • I can get my pack weight down to 25 lbs if I need to.
  • You can hike in Crocs, it is not preferable but it is possible.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Muskrat Creek Shelter to Deep Gap: Mile 78 - 82

This was it, the end of a wonderful hike through Georgia (and 7 miles of North Carolina). We woke up with the hunting dog still in camp ate our breakfast and headed down the trail to meet Bike, we were hopeful that we could return the dog to her owner when we got there.

Along the way we noticed a very interesting spur trail name...

We Met Bike at Deep Gap, he had brought us McDonalds bacon egg and cheese bagles, mmmmmm....

Closing thoughts from off the trail to come.

P.S. The hunting dogs owners were at Deep Gap getting ready to head out hunting for the day and we were able to return her.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Deep Gap Shelter, GA to Muskrat Creek Shelter, NC: Mile 63 - 78

We broke camp at Deep Gap Shelter, after the first night on the trail that we were actually warm...maybe too warm, but never the less we were loving the pleasant change in temperature.

On our way back to the AT I found a single croc, just the right size, and for my left foot...weird. So I put it on and put mine back in my bag.

From there we hiked down to meet Bike at Dicks Creek Gap where he joined us and hiked for about and hour or so. At Dick's Creek Gap I tried to change into my running shoes but less than a quarter mile up the trail I knew that was not going to work -- so I went back to my croc. Thus, my trail name.

After almost 6 days of hiking (technically closer to 5 and a half) we finally made it to the GA/NC state line (75 miles from Springer Mountain)...aaannddd we begin the next state.

The state line is marked on a tree along the trail with a wooden sign, Straight Leg almost walked right past without welcome to North Carolina sign? What kind of state is this?

By the way, if at any point you think, "I think Straight Leg and Croc are wearing the same outfit that they did yesterday". Just know that it is not in fact an optical illusion, we probably are wearing the same clothes.

Shortly after crossing the state line into North Carolina we found out what kind of state it was, we almost immediately started a brutal climb up Sharp Top. It was easily the steepest climb we have done on the AT to date, and if you climb Sharp Top make sure and catch your breath at the top because very shortly after completing Sharp Top you start climbing up Courthouse Bald!

On the way down Courthouse Bald heading for the Muskrat Creek Shelter, we came across a hunting dog who followed us to camp. Once at the shelter we met back up with the hiker from the Blue Mountain Shelter, ate a hardy meal, and went to bed happy knowing it was our last night on the trail.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blue Mountain Shelter to Deep Gap Shelter: Mile 48 - 63

After a good nights sleep we restarted the fire before we broke camp atop Blue Mountain, we did not want to leave but needed to get down the trail.

We made it down to Unicoi Gap where we met Bike for resupply, we decided to take our time today and not hike too fast. Straight Leg was still hurting and walking with, yep you guessed it, a straight leg.

After we met him at Unicoi Gap Bike drove some hikers into town while Straight Leg and I headed for the top of Tray Mountain. There we stopped and ate lunch, took our time, and enjoyed the views from the top. A few miles after Tray Mountain my heel could not take it any longer so I took off my left boot and put on my camp croc.

We stopped to get water at Addis Gap, the source was 0.5 miles off the trail but the water source and campsites were awesome. If you need a great place to stop and camp I highly recommend Addis Gap.

Finally at Deep Gap Shelter, Straight leg and I were very tired, two days in a row of 15 plus miles has really begun to wear on us, although this will be our last night in Georgia and we are very excited about entering North Carolina.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hogpen Gap to Blue Mountain Shelter: Mile 37 - 48

So after a hot shower, some sight seeing, a warm meal, and great conversation with Bike we headed off to dreamland in our nice warm it was nice compared to the night before. In the morning Bike cooked up some bacon and eggs with grits for breakfast, it tasted so good that it was almost the end of the hike right there -- well, not really.

Bike drove us back to Hogpen Gap where the temperature had warmed up to 27 and it was still slightly windy. Our warm breakfast was quickly becoming only a memory except for the fullness in our bellies. Straight Leg had iced down his knee really well the night before and the day started off ok with little discomfort in his knee...that would change for both of us.

For lunch we stopped along an old logging road (a section of the trail travels along an old logging road for several miles), Straight leg had been walking with one leg straight for miles. Protected from the wind the warm sunlight felt good, but it was here that I realized my heel was starting to bother me.

The remainder of the day was fairly uneventful and it was strange we had seen such little wildlife along the way so far. That is except for the acorns the squirrel so thoughtfully deposited into my shoe at Slaughter Creek.

We made it to the Blue Mountain Shelter (the shelter was very nice and well done) around 3:30 pm which gave us plenty of time to gather firewood and set up for the night. The temperatures improved greatly and the wind died down quite a bit. We built a very nice fire (our first of the hike) and ate a filling dinner. Later that evening another hiker showed up at the shelter, it was nice to have the company and conversation.

After we got in our bags for the night we heard a loud meow and a cat showed up. He evidently frequents the shelter and kept us entertained for a while.