Thursday, March 15, 2012

Appalachian Trail

Last week I spent a few days up in North Georgia hiking the beginning of the Appalachian Trail.  It begins on the top of Springer Mountain.  I drove up to Amicalola Falls State Park.  AT hikers can register at the visitor's center there and take the Approach Trail up to Springer and the beginning of the AT, about a 9-mile hike.  There were about 215 people that had registered there and began their AT thru-hike already this year.

There's about 600 stairs to climb to get to the top of the falls.

There are a couple plaques at the top of Springer Mt and a slot in the rock that holds a trail register.

The weather was pretty overcast for most of the trip.  I hiked a couple miles past Springer Mt and camped for the night.  The next morning was very foggy and light rain.  It gave me a chance to try out my pack cover.  It kept my pack nice and dry.  This picture should have a pretty good view of a valley and the rolling hills stretching out in the distance.  But all you can see is fog.

Here's my tent set up for the second night.  I'm camped less than a mile from a shelter, one of many spread all along the trail.  Since I didn't end up sleeping in one this trip I didn't think to take a picture of one.  The ones I saw were one-roomed, three-walled structures.  I think some hikers use them quite frequently while hiking.  They're just first come, first serve.  They can probably sleep several people comfortably.

This was a nice looking spot near a creek that many people had used before.  It had a fire ring and several logs to sit on.  I set up, had dinner and went to bed a bit early.  Around 9pm it started raining and didn't stop until around 7am.  I hadn't gotten around to sealing the seams on my tent yet so there were a couple spots where water started dripping through.  But considering how much it rained that night I stayed very dry.  There was a small puddle near my feet and a couple damp spots on the top of my sleeping bag.

Here's my cooking setup.  I decided to drop the pop can alcohol stove I made after looking at this stove at REI a couple times.  For an all in one setup it's pretty compact and lightweight.  The butane canister, stand and burner all stack up inside the pot.  And it boils water super fast.

For a water filter I decided to get one that connects to a hydration pack I got from Laura.  It's just spliced into the hose.  My backpack has an internal sleeve to hold the pack with a hole to run the hose out of.  I put the filter in a spot that will allow it to just sit on top of the rest of the gear in my backpack with enough hose so I can drink from it while hiking.  Here I've got it hung on a tree letting gravity filter some water from the creek into a jug.  This should be a good setup because I can just fill the hydration pack with whatever water I can find and have it ready to drink.  The filter is a bit lighter and small than the pump filters I considered.  Cheaper too and supposedly lasts forever since you can backwash it to clean it out.

Here's a view similar to the foggy picture above, only without the fog.  No leaves on the trees yet.  I think that once the leaves come out you're pretty much walking in their shade for the entire length of the trail.  I think it has a nickname of "The Green Tunnel" or something similar.

Here's a nice falls that was a few hundred yards off the approach trail.

I hiked about 10 miles the first day and almost 13 the second.  So Friday morning after all the rain I was about 23 miles from my truck.  I slept in until about 9 since the rain had finally stopped beating down on me and I hoped that if I just waited I wouldn't have to fold up a wet tent.  I eventually got around to it though.  My initial plan was to stay 3 nights but at that point I was determined to try to hike all the way out that day.  After about 17 miles I had a couple hours of light left and may have been able to make it, but my feet were completely done for the day.

The approaching cold front that had brought in all the rain pushed through and the sky cleared up around the time it got dark.  It had been fairly cool most of the day and was now getting cold.  I had to pull out my warm hat and gloves while I at dinner and actually kept my sleeping bag zipped all the way up all night.  I think it was about 40 when I went to bed and pretty windy.  The wind stopped during the night and the sun finally came out the next morning!  Going out I passed a bunch of day-hikers coming up from the falls heading to Springer.  One guy I talked to was training for a hike up Mt Rainier later this year and hopes to do the PCT someday.

Overall a fun and successful trip to test out my gear.  My pack was great, I think it was around 40 pounds at most including food and water.  I think I was probably on the lighter/smaller side as far as packs went among the other hikers I saw out there.  There was one guy who looked like he was carrying at least 70 pounds in a big rucksack.  The couple times I passed him he was moving pretty slowly.

For my to-do list prior to hitting the PCT I've got to seam-seal my tent, settle on some shoes (I just wore my old running shoes for this hike) and hammer out an itinerary.  I'm confident the gear I've got will get me through a long distance hike.  I didn't test my rain coat, but my pack cover and tent ( minus the seams) did wonderfully in the rain.  My jacket and hat were plenty warm enough in the low 40's.  My sleeping bag may be a bit too warm, but that's better than too cold.  Loved the new JetBoil stove.  I made some oatmeal, pasta and rice in it.  And the water filter setup worked great.  Though, thanks to the clouds, the one thing I didn't end up using was my solar panel.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your pictures. Practice run sounds like it went well. Beautiful weather that last day. Changing stoves - but the pop can alcohol stoves were so cute!