Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Appalachian Trail backpacking, Standing Indian to Dick's Creek Gap

Just back from a great hiking trip. Eleven hikers and ‘Gracie’ the border collie hit the trail at Standing Indian Campground in NC on Thursday, April 19th. The hike was a 36.3 miler through some of the most beautiful mountains that NC and GA have to offer. Here we are at the beginning, all fresh and ready to hike:
The weather was spectacular. Sunny and mild during the days and a bit chilly at night. Everyone was well protected from the cold with adequate shelter and clothing. Plenty of water along the way.

The first day, Thursday, we met up with our shuttle service from The Hiawassee Inn in GA. They shuttled the group in 3 vehicles to Standing Indian Campground in time for a 12:45pm start. A few of us took a side jaunt to see the second oldest dead poplar tree (or something like that):We hiked to Betty Creek Gap for a total of 8.5 miles and still had plenty of light left before sunset.

The second day we hiked to Standing Indian Shelter and bedded down for the night. We booked 11.5 miles on Friday. Some ups, some downs and plenty of great vistas to enjoy along the way, like this view off Standing Indian: Wildflowers were just starting to emerge. The leaves on the trees looked to be budding and getting ready to open in a week or so. Our evenings were spent around a beautiful fire having stimulating conversation.

The third day, Saturday, we hiked 9.9 miles and camped just past Rich Cove Gap. Everyone faired well except John ‘da mule’ did a number on his left ankle. It was touch and go as to whether we would shoot him or leave him to the bears. Actually, he made it out nicely with the aid of an ankle brace from Steve ‘gear man’ Miller. (post note: Nothing broken, just a sprain).

We saw plenty of northbound thru hikers while on the trip. Interestingly, when asked how they were doing, a majority responded ‘great’ but many said ‘OK’. The projection is for the ‘greats’ to make the whole 2176 miles and the O.K.’s to drop by the wayside along the way. We were hiking in the critical first 100 miles of their journey from Springer Mountain . We hope for safe travel for all of them. Sunday was our fourth and last day on the trail. We departed the campsite in clusters between 7 and 9am and made it out at Dicks Creek Gap near Hiawassee , GA. around 2pm. Here we are looking a little more ragged than at the beginning:We drove back to the Hiawassee Inn for showers and a cold one before hitting the local ‘all you can eat’ buffet. Arrived back in Raleigh around 8:30pm.

Here are links to various people's photos:
Link 1
Link 2

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