Another perfect day in Dolly Sods Wilderness

Another perfect day in Dolly Sods Wilderness
Taken just off the Red Creek Trail/Blackbird Knob Trail Junction

Sunday, September 26, 2010

AT Hike 2010 - Shenandoah National Park

Day 1 - Start Rockfish Gap; destination is Calf Mountain Shelter. We started at around noon with the rather steep hike up from Rockfish Gap. Packs are way too heavy since we are carrying about 3+ liters of water each as the water source at the shelter is listed as dry. Due to my own negligence at taking care of my body, I did a crash and burn at the top of McCormick Gap. Face plant on a rock! Had a hell of a bump on my forehead and drove my glasses back into my eye orbits. Still did not have enough since to eat and drink anything. STUPID! I was hitting the wall bad on the climb out of Beagle Gap, but the shelter side trail was a welcome site. Oh, and there was water in the spring! Carried 10 pounds of water that I did not have to carry. Two SoBo thrus at the shelter: Ghost pirate and Quick step.

Day 2 - Calf Mtn Shelter to BlackRock Hut. We decided that with the water situation, we would hike down to the Moormans River and take it around to the hut. This made for a 1500 foot elevation loss and gain, but it was worth it to carry lighter packs and have enough water. We missed the high ridgeline scenery, but the river side walk was nice. The Moormans river is the main supply for the city of Charlottesville, VA. The river was very low. We did about 12.5 miles today. The climb from Blackrock Gap up to the Shelter side trail sucked! We had the shelter to ourselves. Very nice evening.

Day 3 - Black rock hut to Loft Mountain Campground (about 6 miles). Low mileage day and a rather easy hike with only a few moderate climbs. We arrived at the campground around 12:30. We visited the campstore, then headed the mile down to the Wayside for FOOD! We then hiked back up to the campstore, did laundry, took showers and resupplied for the next couple of days. We then headed for the campground. The ranger dudes hooked us up with a very nice site that had a sunset view. They let us set up 3 tents on one site (limit is usually 2 tents). Awesome!

Day 4 - Loft Mtn Campground to Pinefield hut. A bit more difficult day, but still low mileage. We did carry water up from the Ivy Creek Maintainance area spring. This spring was flowing very nicely! We did see a naked hiker today. What a not so nice surprise. Kelly was not feeling well today and not sure if she could continue. She took some pain reliever (heavy duty stuff) and we continued to the hut. We pulled in at Pinefield hut around 3 pm. Thunder started around 20 after 3. We did received some much needed rain. It was a pretty good storm! We caught water off the shelter roof. I did get to meet the fabled Mother Goose (she has done 3 or 4 thruhikes and is the first woman to do a yoyo hike - Maine to Georga and the turn around and walk back to Maine). She is around 70ish and had just done a 20 mile day. Very nice woman! Wish we could have talked to her some more.

Day 5 - Pinefield Hut to Hightop Hut (8 miles). More uphill and we carried water for 5 miles from the Simmons Gap Ranger station. There was some water at the spring, but you had to dip it out without scooping up salamander larvae. We were the only 3 at the shelter. We decided to get up at 0400 and start our hike around 06oo. Nice day

Day 6 - Hightop Hut to Lewis Mountain Campground (11.5 miles) . Started our hiking day at 0550 by head lamp. Started off with about 4 miles downhill to Swifts Run Gap; we then started mostly up for the next 7 1/2 miles. Not too bad though. We are finally starting to hit our stride. Kelly fell at the South River Picnic area and banged up her knee. Bill did a break a way and started speed hiking to Lewis Mountain Campground, since it is Friday and campsites go early. Kelly and I followed. Bill arrived at the campground at 1238; Kelly and I arrived at about 2 pm. We snagged two sites. Showers, laundry and Yuengling! Some of Kelly's friends came up around 8:30 pm with burgers and more beer. I hit the sack around 10ish. I slept very well.

Day 7 - Lewis Mountain Campground to Milam Gap (6 miles). Our last day. We tagged Bear Fence Mountain very quickly. I am just now starting to feel really good physically. We hit the car around 1 pm. This was a nice day, and I just want to keep going.

Summary: Section hiking is difficult. You start with a lot of aches and pains, finally start to hit your stride and head toward decent shape, then your hike is over until next year. Just once in my life, I want to see what thruhiker condition feels like. I want to spend 4 to 6 weeks just hiking. It must feel awesome to have your body function as the Human body was meant to function.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Time to hike!

Tomorrow (9/19) is the first day of our Shenandoah N. P. finish up hike.
Decided to use my Mountainsmith Muse pack since it will handle the way too heavy load I will have to shoulder. Pretty much all natural water sources along the AT in the southern section of Shenandoah N.P. are dried up. This means carrying about 7 to 9 pounds of water weight in addition to everything else.

I decided to use the Big Agness Fly Creek UL1 tent since it does offer more more privacy. I am sure I will regret the extra pound of weight tomorrow.
If the two springs north of Calf Mtn Shelter (the spring at the shelter is dry) do not have water, we have decided to drop off the Appalachian Trail and head down the South Fork of the Moormans River fire road to then hike along the river and the Moormans River Trail and then head back up to the AT via the North Fork of the Moormans river fire road. At one time, this was the route of the AT and it is actually about 1 1/2 mile shorter than staying on the ridgeline. Of course shorter does not mean easier or faster. We will have to carry water to all of the shelters we will stay at. Day 3 will put us at the Loft Mountain Campground: FOOD!, shower, laundry and resupply. At least we do not have to carry food for the 6 days we will be hiking.

Trip report to follow.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Getting ready for AT section hike

Well, it is finally time to get my gear ready for the hike I wait for all year, Drum roll please: The Section Connection Annual AT Hike! My GG Mariposa + is slowly getting packed. I really like this pack. It has enough pockets to stay organized on trail and it is still very light. Food is pretty much packed except for cheese and tortillas. Food bag will be around 3.5 to 4 pounds. Probably have too much food, but It is nice to have emergency rations if needed. We do plan to resupply at Loft Mtn Campstore and will probably get a little food at Lewis Mtn Campstore.

I have yet to decide on which shelter I will take, but it will be either my GG One or the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1. I am leaning towards the One because it is about a pound lighter. The One is lighter, but the Fly Creek might block wind better if it is cold and it does offer a bit more privacy for campgrounds. This is important since we will be carrying a lot of water at times. Day one is 7 dry miles, day 2 is 12 dry miles. I am gonna go on faith that the springs at Calf Mtn Shelter and Black Rock Hut are not dry. If they are, we gonna get thirsty! I will follow up with a trip report in late September.