Thursday, December 20, 2012

Long Branch Shelter replaces the old Big Springs Gap Shelter

Out with the old ... and in with the new:  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Nantahala Hiking Club, and a local company - Goshen Timber Frames - teamed up for the construction of Long Branch Shelter near Glassmine Gap.  The new structure is located north of Standing Indian on the Appalachian Trail and about 17 miles from Franklin, N.C.


The new two-story Long Branch Shelter replaces the old Big Springs Gap Shelter (shown below), which was built just north of Albert Mountain.  

The Big Springs Gap Shelter is reportedly in a state of disrepair and is scheduled to be dismantled.  It is a short walk from a parking area, so the new site for the Long Branch Shelter will offer backpackers more solitude and safety.   


The new shelter can also be accessed via Standing Indian Campground where the Long Branch Trail follows Long Branch Creek up 800 feet up to the A.T. at Glassmine Gap.  The trail is roughly 2.0 miles long and starts just across the road from the parking area.





Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thorton v's Boone, Round One

You'd think after hiking for 2.2 miles that the dogs would be tired, but here they are romping on a beach beside the Chattooga River. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lake Winfield Scott Hike To The Appalachian Trail


This is the trailhead for The Jarrard Gap Trail that leads from Lake Winfield Scott to the Appalachain Trail.


The Jarrard Gap Trail starts with a hike through a forest and across a small stream, but quickly hits a forest road for about 0.3 miles. 


Boone was enjoying the hike.


After 1.2 miles I reach the Appalachian Trail at Jarrard Gap.  I camped here back in 1994 during my thru-hike - so it was cool to see this area again.  It looked a lot different with leaves on the trees.  


I think my 1994 campsite was in the same spot as this 2012 campsite.  The A.T. heads northbound toward Blood Mountain from here (and to the upper right in this photo).

Lake Winfield Scott in a recreation area (with a nearby campground) that is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Letting Rebel Go: Saying Goodbye To Man's Best Friend

I miss my dog – not that I don’t have a new one, but I can’t forget my old one.  It was 18 months ago, when Rebel sat outside the door watching me pack for a hike to The Perch in North Georgia.  He died within ten days of that trip, and I vividly recall (and photographed) him sitting by my shop door – barking as if to join me.  Arthritis kept him from the trail in his later years, but he never gave up hope that I might take him along.


I have a new dog now, and he too has taken to the trail - as all dogs do.  Boone made the hike to the Perch last fall much as Rebel did five years earlier.  He had a great time, and I enjoyed having Boone with me.  But Rebel is never far from my mind.  He’s still with me in spirit.  He still hikes with me every trip.  Gone – but not forgotten as they say.

We all must move on at some point, and I decided the time had come.  So on what would have been Rebel’s 14th birthday, my wife, kids and I scattered his ashes on a grave site that we set-up in the backyard.  Beneath it were buried some of his possesions: a personalized water dish (made by my wife in pottery class), his tennis balls, a blue bottle of old arthritis medicine, his toothbrush, an old stuffed toy, etc.  I put them there one year after he died in November 2011. Boone and the kids stood nearby, but my wife and I were the only ones to fully appreciate the moment. 

It has always been our plan to scatter Rebel’s ashes on the trail.  So, I saved some for the second anniversary of his death.  I have a photo of Rebel taken on the trail in November 2002 where he appears to descend from the sky.  That is the spot for his final resting place. This November my wife and I will scatter his remaining ashes for the last time – and I will finally let him go.  Farewell my friend.  


Friday, March 30, 2012

Whitley Gap Shelter Photos - March 23, 2012

Here's some photos from the 
Whitley Gap Shelter on the evening of  March 23, 2012.  There were lots of thru-hikers in the house - and the weather cleared in time for a great sunset.  Best wishes Class of 2012!


A stormy start to the day.  It rained all morning and in to the afternoon.  The forecast was for it to continue in to the night - but fortunately that didn't pan out.


Zip and WalkAndEats at the Whitley Gap Shelter.  Zip is joined by his two dogs Skye and Mojo.  So I guess there really is Mojo on the trail (as I wrote in a previous article). 


KC (aka 30 Pack) watching the sun set over Cow Rock Mountain and the Appalachian Trail.  He hiked this ridge line only hours earlier.  


30 Pack after the sunset - looking southwest.  The storm clouds that lingered from the morning/afternoon made for some great photos this evening. 


2012 thru-hikers gathered around an evening campfire.  Despite the rain today, the wood went up easily and burned well in to the night.  


Atlas leads some jams around the campfire.  He earned the trail name for carrying both a guitar and a ukulele.   


Sunrise at Whitley Gap Shelter which sits 1.2 miles off the Appalachian Trail near Hogpen Gap.


Bear bags on bear cables at Whitley Gap Shelter.  Bears have been active south of here on the A.T. around Blood Mountain - but no issues last night.


2012 thru-hikers at Whitley Gap Shelter.  Only 2000 miles to go to Maine!


Scott "Zip" Willits continues the march northward the next morning.  You can follow his blog by clicking here.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

There Is Magic On The Appalachian Trail

Spring is a special time on the Appalachian Trail.   Every year, 2000+

people show up at Springer Mountain (the official start of the A.T. in

Georgia) to head north.  In 1994, I was one of those people - and ever since

I pause for a moment to think about the next group to head North.




This year, I had a friend making the annual pilgrimage and drove across town

to meet Scott "Zip" Willits on 3/16/12.  We met up at his sister's house in

metro-Atlanta, and it was a beautiful spring day - the kind that makes you

want to skip work.  We had some beers, worked on reducing his pack weight,

then talked of the adventures to come.  The Mojo was strong, so I met him

five days later at Whitley Gap Shelter in North Georgia.


There is magic on the trail and it is hard to explain.  If you are lucky

enough to experience it, then you know what I am saying.  Yet some things

are more easily understood through photos and video ...  so I'll let them

do the talking.  Best wishes 2012 thru-hikers!