View Full Version : on the trail?!

03-14-2010, 16:47
I ll be arriving shortly at the trailhead. any news from the trail? anyone else with technology out there this year? stay connected and keep us posted here. I m excited to meet you all. wishing you the best!

03-14-2010, 17:23
Just got back from a short section in GA. Trail is muddy and wet. Very wet. On the plus side, water is very plentiful.

03-18-2010, 09:16
Just finished a 2.5 day 28 Mile Shakedown from Woody Gap to Amicalola Falls. Met a lot of folks includng, Longhaul, Klarity, Grey Beard, and Long Island Ice Tea. There are bunch of new hikers out there who don't have trail names yet like Jason (from Maine), James, Robert, Joe, Douglas, ... I'll have to get out my notes as I update my trail journal. I've got lots to talk about for the I was on the trail. Tuesday 3/16/2010, was the kind of day we all get out on the trail for. It makes the rest of it worthwhile.

The bottom line is the AT is in good shape from Springer to Woody. Didn't see any serious blow downs, and saw plenty of evidence of excellent tread way maintenance. Wish I could say the same for the Approach Trail. I've lived in GA for 30+ years, and this has been one of the toughest winters I've experienced. Much of the woods along the Approach trail looks as if it had been mowed over by a Giant Lawn Mower. More about that in the Journal.

I had many, many comments on my Trekking Pole Mono-pod. It's not original with me. I learned about it from reading Trail Journals some time ago. It's really pretty simple to make. It consists of a 1/4-20x 2" Hanger Bolt (available at Home Depot or other hardware stores) Drilled and epoxied into the top of the trekking pole with a wing nut used as the lock nut.. One tip, before setting the epoxy, attach the camera to the screw, and position it so it's pointing forward on the pole. That way later whenever you attach the camera it will always be pointed in the right direction when it's completely seated on the screw. No guarantees here. Different makers use different construction techniques so I have no way of knowing if this will work with your particular brand or model of pole.

03-18-2010, 15:45
I will be hiking Fontana to NOC this weekend. I am then going to Dicks Creek Gap in Ga and hiking north to NOC. Say hello if you see me. I will be the old guy with two hiking poles. Happy hiking everyone

03-19-2010, 12:00
The following is the text of observations I sent to the GATC recapping trail conditions from my hike this week, reprinted here FYI:

I just completed a 28 mile shakedown hike from Woody Gap to Amicalola Falls Visitor Center this week, and thought I'd share my trail observations with you. In general I found the trail from Woody Gap to Springer Mountain to be in much better condition than I expected after all I'd read and heard about the winter on the trail. The approach trail is another story I'll get to later. I saw several places such as the section between Gooch Mountain Shelter and Hawk Mountain Shelter where it's obvious there has been some fine work on benching the tread, and using grade dips to manage the run off. Thank you very much and congratulations to the crews that are doing the work. There were a couple of other sections that showed the same kind of care.

The trail had been reported as muddy, but I didn't find it to be so bad. It's a bit muddy in places where there are springs and streams crossing the trail, but nothing that couldn't be walked through or around. Somebody must have been busy. There are no blow downs between Woody Gap, and Springer Mountain.

I spent the night Monday at Hawk Mountain Shelter. The shelter was full and the area around the shelter looked like "Tent City" the place was so crowded. Someone said they'd never seen a shelter area so full especially on a Monday. The site was a mess, and there wasn't much if any evidence of Leave No Trace awareness among the mob of campers. Especially offensive was the toilet paper, and sanitary waste on the ground around the Privy. I met Lois Rhodes on a day hike Tuesday Morning from Three Forks to Hawk Mountain just checking things out. We chatted a bit, and started hiking out together. That didn't last long. LOL.

I must have missed a blaze on the way up the back side of Springer because I completely missed Stover Creek Shelter. I ended up scrambling up what in retrospect must have been a closed and rerouted section where the old blazes were still in sight, and someone had placed a post with a white blaze beside a creek crossing. When I came out of the scramble I was on an obviously recently benched new tread way. Fortunately another hiker came along that was going my way so I didn't turn the wrong way.

If anyone wants to know how bad the winter was in North Georgia, They just need to hike the Approach Trail from Black Gap to Amicalola. The area looks as if it had been mowed over by a giant lawn mower. The trail to the water source at Black Gap was almost completely blocked by dead fall. I tried to move some of it but, it was getting dark, and I didn't have any tools with me.

This next piece may seem like bitching and it could be that after 3 days on the trail, and being a bit tired and sore from my training hike I was just making a mountain out of a molehill. In my defense, I originally learned my trail work with the GATC back in the early 1990's. Since that time, I have founded the Kennesaw Mountain Trail club modeled initially after the GATC, been trained and certified as a Crew Leader in the program at Gainesville College, and spent the last 8 years leading crews building and maintaining the trails at Kennesaw Mountain. All that is by way of saying I believe I know something about good trail design and maintenance.

I really, really hate the monster check dams built across the trail below Black Gap on the way to the falls. Judging from the way the trail is being trampled through the area so do many other hikers. If I wasn't committed to doing my thru-hike this year, I'd want to put together a crew and go up there and change it. First of all building drainage at 90 degrees to the tread doesn't work. Water doesn't take well to sudden sharp turns. The dams are too high and too wide for tired hikers with heavy packs to manage comfortably. Finally the damn dams are really ugly and a scar on the landscape.

There, I've said my piece, and you can take it with all the salt you care to. Over all I had a great hike, and the club is doing a great job in tough conditions to keep the trail open and hiker friendly. Thank You to everyone who has a hand in all the hard work.

Red Hat
03-19-2010, 13:05
At 67.5 miles up the trail, I have found a bit of everything. Mostly nice trail, but lots of mud, some ice on the cold side of both Blood Mtn and Tray mtn. Some blowdowns on the north side of Tray. All in all, it's great out here! Reports are that the Great Smokey Mountain National Park is heavy with snow drifts, but hopefully it will melt in the warm weather. We shall see....

03-21-2010, 17:53
At 67.5 miles up the trail, I have found a bit of everything. Mostly nice trail, but lots of mud, some ice on the cold side of both Blood Mtn and Tray mtn. Some blowdowns on the north side of Tray. All in all, it's great out here! Reports are that the Great Smokey Mountain National Park is heavy with snow drifts, but hopefully it will melt in the warm weather. We shall see....

Sorry if this has been said already as I haven't read everything. Anyway, I made it to Newfound Gap. The blowdowns between the NOC and Fontana were rediculous (but passable) and I heard crews were scheduled to go through that section. The Smokys up to Clingmans Dome were fine. The stretch after Clingmans Dome was deep snow (4-5ft on the trail) and slow going but it was definitely doable. Just be prepared to sink in every now and then. I have a feeling that snow will still be around for a while. After Newfound Gap I hear that it will be similar for a bit but I will find out tomorrow :). I have found all this stuff to just be a fun challenge and it makes me appreciate the clear dry sections :P. So far I haven't seen any need for snowshoes and haven't needed traction devices (although in some sections they would have been helpful).

03-22-2010, 11:51
the blow downs from NOC to Fontana are clear now (thanks to the crews). Lots of piles of sawdust. As hobbit said fontana to clingman's is okay but clingmans to newfound gap is pretty nasty. It is totally doable but very slow going. Also as I write this from the Gatlinburg PL it is snowing outside. So I am sure the rest of smokies will be great!