Reunions

The past two Saturdays have been some of my favorites. I got to see and/or hike with my hiking companions from Georgia, Oso and Rockflipper. I haven’t seen these fellas since February when they were starting the trail. Obviously COVID restrictions impacted their hikes so these reunions were a little later than expected but well worth the wait! I met Oso in Kent as he was taking a much-needed zero, so I hit the trail for a few hours after a nice breakfast outside the Fife N’ Drum and ended up making 3 new friends on the trail, one who lives in my town. Caleb’s Peak and St. John’s ledges were the usual treats of scenery and challenge and my friend Lisa from our AMC chapter picked me up to save me the road walk so I could make lunch with Oso in time. It was great catching up with him and It was nice to see her too! I will try and catch Oso farther north.

I managed to catch Rockflipper in Cornwall Bridge, who had skipped this 12-mile section to visit a doctor and had planned to come back on this day to do it. I was luckily off from work this day and met him at 9am at the trailhead. His wife was slack-packing him for a few days so she gave us a ride up to the trailhead.  My tracker wasn’t getting a signal so I gave up on it for the time being as Overboard and Blueberry who he had been hiking with were at the same spot and ready to go. With everything being so dry lately, Guinea Brook was low and easily crossable. It wasn’t until the top of Breadloaf Mountain that I got a signal on my tracker. We met another hiker he knew, Dirtyjobz, as well as some trail magic on the way up. I didn’t take any trail magic as I was just day hiking and wanted to save it for the thrus. We all hiked together for a while until Dirtyjobz went ahead. Rockflipper and I stopped about halfway at Pine Swamp shelter for a snack and as the rain was kicking in. I surveyed the campsite and we headed out into the rain which did not stop and only got heavier. It rained on us the whole way and most of our views were obscured and my phone (and camera) hidden away in my pack. This is fine though because it gave us more time to focus on conversation and the moment and I have probably 10,000 photos of the CT A.T! We did get a lot of good ones before the rain.

The race track at Lime Rock was alive with the sounds of a car test driving for about an hour. For some reason, I haven’t ever been on Sharon Mountain when it wasn’t a torrential downpour all day long (or in one case, 2-foot snowdrifts I had to post-hole!). Maybe its the location of the mountain in relation to the weather systems. Don’t know, but I embrace the rain these days, especially when it’s 75 degrees, I am going back to my car later and not to camp, I don’t have much or any slick steep technical terrain, and its been hot and humid as heck the last two weeks! I didn’t bother with any protection other than the pack cover to protect my electronics.

My longest day was 11.8 in Georgia (with Oso and Rockflipper) and today was 12.1! Though my tracker didn’t get that first .3, I know I did it and it felt great. I am still getting used to my zero drop trail runners and definitely feeling it today but I love those shoes and I know they are better for you in the long run once used to them. It was awesome to hit a new milestone with one of the guys I hit the last one with 4 months ago.

I also got to meet several other hikers and do my trail patrol survey which includes checking out campsites and cleaning trash from bearboxes, noting water source levels, giving hikers important information on resources and answering their questions, explaining our section policies and leave no trace reasons behind them, picking up trail litter, clearing waterbars, and addressing or reporting any blowdowns. The work was light this day luckily so I could focus on hiking with Rockflipper.  I hope to join him up trail again too, or back down the trail when he flips back from Maine to finish where he skipped ahead after getting off trail for COVID for several months. Photos below.

miles day 1: 5.2

miles day 2: 12.1

wildlife: many frogs splashing about in the trail puddles, a salamander and a few garter snakes

— Linus

Linus and Oso

Linus and Oso

Hitting the trail

Hitting the trail

Rocky scenes

Rocky scenes

View from Caleb's Peak

View from Caleb’s Peak

Linus at overlook at St. John's Ledges

Linus at overlook at St. John’s Ledges

My new friends on St. John's Ledges

My new friends on St. John’s Ledges

Garter snake on St. John's Ledges

Salamander on St. John’s Ledges

Garter snake at St. John's Ledges

Garter snake at St. John’s Ledges

Linus and Rock Flipper

Linus and Rock Flipper

At Guinea Brook

At Guinea Brook

Hatch Brook

Hatch Brook

Linus and Rock Flipper at Pine Knob

Linus and Rock Flipper at Pine Knob

Linus in Rodger's Ramp

Linus in Rodger’s Ramp

Rock Flipper at Rodger's Ramp

Rock Flipper at Rodger’s Ramp

Rainy view

Rainy view

Carse Brook crossing

Carse Brook crossing

 

 

Trout Brook Valley Preserve

Last weekend my wife and I got a hike in together at a new spot for us. Trout Brook Valley Preserve is located just next to several parks including Devil’s Glen, Devil’s Den and Huntington State Park, with which it shares some common trail. Rugged and steep in places, and mixed with wide carriage roads perfect for biking and running, we were wonderfully surprised. It just reopened from the pandemic closure, though there is no parking on weekends and it is a very small lot to begin with. It seems the neighbors are not all that happy about it and there are signs at the entrance that police will be called on anyone picking anything in the forest from flowers to wild edibles like mushrooms. There was also a bear warning sign and we could see several spots on our hike that were bear-friendly.

We also saw a bunch of wild turkeys, and I was startled by a duck at the beginning of the hike, as he flew out of the brush alongside the causeway as I walked by. A lot of beautiful wildflowers could be seen in the same meadow, and there is a bench and birdhouse for bird watching. I also thought the fish causeway was really interesting.

Our short hike was full of interesting terrain and some nice views, and we will be back. Mid-week is the time to go… Photos below.

Miles: 3.5

— Linus

Trout Brook Valley Preserve Entrance

Trout Brook Valley Preserve Entrance

A rope for help when wet

A rope for help when wet

Fielden Stream at the top of a rope climb

Fielden Stream at the top of a rope climb

Linus at the top of the ridge

Linus at the top of the ridge

 

 

Another Harriman Overnight

Last Thursday I did another spontaneous short overnight between work shifts. In the current situation, it seems like the short midweek overnights are the way to get my fix. I will be going back to field work this month, so this may change things in the future. But for now this mid-week thing is definitely working. And it helps with parking too, though in these times the lots are mostly just as crowded as weekends. This time I went with my friend Whoops!, who you may recall hiked with me in January. This was her first backpacking trip, and it was great. The distance was short, but the rewards lasted the whole time. Perfect conditions and an even more perfect sunrise made for a great first experience for her. We may go again next week. I really can’t wait until my wife Fielden Stream can come along. That should be soon. In the meantime it’s really fun taking new friends along and showing them how amazing backpacking is. You don’t have to kill yourself with a 60lb pack and 20 mile days of 5,000ft elevations to feel like a champion out there. Do what’s comfortable and attainable. From there your abilities and confidence will grow with you. The mistake most new backpackers make is pushing yourself too hard and expecting too much the first time. This was a 2.2 mile hike each way. While it was uphill the whole time, it was moderate and gradual except for one spot. It was a perfect hike, and it’s so nice not to be obsessing over miles, just the smiles. You don’t have to do all 48 4,000-footers in New Hampshire, or climb Everest to enjoy the outdoors and identify with it. Go out and enjoy!

Photos below, and of course, a video which has a lot more of the experience. Watch the video here:.

Miles total: ~5

— Linus

Linus at the start

Linus at the start

Bridge on the long path

Bridge on the long path

Rays

Rays

Brook crossing

Brook crossing

Whoops! at the cairns

Whoops! at the cairns

Whoops! on the rocks

Whoops! on the rocks

Linus by the shelter

Linus by the shelter

Camp

Camp

Big Hill shelter

Big Hill shelter

Linus and Whoops! at Big Hill

Linus and Whoops! at Big Hill

Warmth

Warmth

Sunset

Sunset

Linus at sunrise

Linus at sunrise

Whoops! at sunrise

Whoops! at sunrise

Whoops! on Big Hill

Whoops! on Big Hill

Whoops! on the trail

Whoops! on the trail

Linus at the brook crossing

Linus at the brook crossing

Whoops! at the reservoir

Whoops! at the reservoir

Reservoir views

Reservoir views

Linus on the Dam

Linus on the Dam

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

 

Harriman Overnight Backpacking Trip (NY)

Last Thursday I decided to finally realize my multiple threats (or should I say requests!) for a mid-week overnight backpacking trip between work shifts. I don’t know yet when I will be able to go back out in the field for work, and since there’s not really any open A.T. sections in my area that I haven’t done yet, I decided to find another great hike nearby. I have been tossing around the idea of Harriman State Park in New York since my previous two hikes on Connecticut’s Regicides Trail. This is mainly because they are very reminiscent of each other in ways.  I did research some other overnight sites in Connecticut but most were in state forests or parks that were not open. There were some options, but Harriman was at that point just calling me back. I did a solo overnight there in 2015 over the Timp and West Mountains. That was a scorcher! Well of course I became so pre-occupied since then with the A.T. and my various trail jobs on it as well as local Connecticut trails that this park just fell off my list.

But as I began to ponder and plan something there, I began to recall all the fantastic scenery that is to be enjoyed. Having done all of the A.T. in New York, we were also treated to another long section of trail in the park, including the famous “Lemon Squeezer.” This loop would take me within less than a mile of that feature, and was extremely reminiscent of the bear-troubled Fingerboard shelter and mountain, just north of where I camped. While this shelter did have a bear activity sign, being OFF the A.T. means a LOT less traffic and use, so I wasn’t too worried and didn’t have any issues. I am experienced in these matters and practice proper food storage and preparation guidelines and i know that helped. In fact I had the place to myself which was just what I needed out of this hike.  I did encounter many people day hiking, even a couple backpacking, but no one but myself stayed here.

Wow, was I right in my recollection of the scenery here. And I’ve only explored a tiny fraction of this park to date. I had some issues with one of my trekking poles on this hike, and my tent is trekking-pole supported. So when I got back I ordered some new poles which are on the way, and also a book of 35 circuit hikes in Harriman. Happy to give money to a great organization like NYNJTC (New York New Jersey Trails Conference) and I spend so much time on the computer, sometimes Its just nice having a book. I would print out maps for the hike and not bring the whole book along, but it’s also easier than scouring 100,000 web page reviews of best hike options for an overnight.

Mountainhopper helped me at the last minute decide which of several loops to do, as he had been doing this one (or a slightly longer version) the last few days and knew which roads and lots were still open from the Covid closures. The weather was glorious, even the rain overnight was no big deal. Though I’m much more tolerant of and accustomed to rain now! All part of the fun, embracing the suck.

Amyway, I made a video. Pictures are of course below, but if you want to see the video click here. I liked it so much it’s now my header image (using the panorama feature on my phone).

Miles total: 7

— Linus

Rules

Rules

I don't think we're in NYC anymore Toto

I don’t think we’re in NYC anymore Toto

Starting the climb up Hogencamp Mountain

Starting the climb up Hogencamp Mountain

Lone tree on Hogencamp Mtn

Lone tree on Hogencamp Mtn

Plenty of scrambles

Plenty of scrambles

Rock and vapor trails

Rock and vapor trails

Using Peakvisor

Using Peakvisor

Bald Rocks shelter

Bald Rocks shelter

Hey there Boo boo!

Hey there Boo boo!

Looking west over camp

Looking west over camp

RIding the mountain's spine

RIding the mountain’s spine

Approaching sunset

Approaching sunset

More sunset

More sunset

A bit more sunset

A bit more sunset

Gourmet

Gourmet

Sunrise from camp

Sunrise from camp

Hiking out on a soggy morning

Hiking out on a soggy morning just past sunrise

Rock runways

Rock runways

"Bowling rocks" just after sunrise

“Bowling rocks” just after sunrise

Laurel tunnels

Laurel tunnels

Morning fog over a lake

Morning fog over a lake

An old entrance to the Hogencamp Mine

An old entrance to the Hogencamp Mine

Hogencamp Mine. This is zoomed, Stay far away, if you fall in you are probably not getting out alive

Hogencamp Mine. This is zoomed, Stay far away, if you fall in you are probably not getting out alive, seriously.  This is the main shaft and VERY deep with walls as slick as slime

 

Hike on the Regicides and Connecting Trails, Connecticut

Happy 50th Birthday to Earth Day! We have this fantastic day to thank for so many of the laws in place to protect our natural and wild places and species. Make a few minutes in your day to make an impact however you can, whether its use less electricity, or water, or food, planting, cleaning up a trail or park or your backyard or even just spreading the word to others. Together we can make an impact. The planet needs more than ever!

While my contributions today don’t include a hike, here’s one I did a week ago in the New Haven, Connecticut area. Curious about the name and history? Watch the video. It’s in the beginning so don’t worry you don’t have to watch all 45 minutes. But hopefully you will enjoy more of it than that. I did. This does put me over my 200 miles of Connecticut blue-blazed trails, and 1,300 total miles since I started tracking my hikes in late 2013. So that’s kinda neat. I hope to be on a trail again later this week.  Thanks in advance for coming along on some of the walk. The video covers it all, go check it out here!  There’s a few spots where the wind makes it a little harder to hear, but maybe only 2 minutes of all of it, so don’t let that scare you off! If the 45-minute length does, well then I understand!

Miles: 6.4

— Linus

Linus the man behind the mask

Linus the man behind the mask-parking lot safety!

Starting out along the rocky ledges

Starting out along the rocky ledges

Reinding me of the southern A.T.

Reinding me of the southern A.T.

Round the bend

Round the bend of rocks

Plateaus

Plateaus

Another Eagle beak?

Another Eagle beak?

Up the plateau

Up the plateau

Powerlines

Powerlines

a trail's dropdown menu

a trail’s dropdown menu

More dropdowns

More dropdowns

Love beds of pine needles

Love beds of pine needles

Strange places in the woods

Strange places in the woods

Thru the lookout

Thru the lookout

Pillars and pathways

Pillars and pathways

In view

In view

follow the yellow blaze road

follow the yellow blaze road

Always a joy to find yellow trout lily

Always a joy to find yellow trout lily

Will have to come back in June for the Laurels in Bloom

Will have to come back in June for the Laurels in Bloom

Carriage roads

Carriage roads

 

Birthday and Anniversary Hike at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation (NY)

Just one week later we decided to go for another hike at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation to celebrate Whoops!’s birthday and my and Fielden Stream’s 10 year anniversary. Parks are still open to encourage fresh air, sunshine and healthy distancing, so long as that is able to be maintained. Whoops!’s brother was visiting her and came along as well. We met several years ago at a BBQ and so it was nice to see him again, from a distance! We took separate cars, for starters.

This time we headed for the Leatherman’s cave and the vista above as our adventure, with a detour back to the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp to show Whoops! and her brother, and to see the bits we didn’t catch last week (see the entry below this one). For a little info on the Leatherman, check out the infographic plaque in the photos below.

Most of the trail we did was a wide carriage road except the one up to the cave and over the hill the cave was on, so the miles were easy except for those two climbs. I don’t know of a name for that hill, but the one just southwest is called Joe’s Hill and its about 70ft higher. You get a nice view of it from both vistas on the cave hill, as well as a wide view of the Cross River Reservoir and mountains and valleys to the west and north. I believe I spotted the hills along the Connecticut New York border which the Appalachian Trail straddles in the Kent area. But I did not pull out Peakvisor this time to confirm!

There was a good number of folks out enjoying the park again this time, and the park was free, i imagine to limit human exposure to each other, and to the attendant at the gate. Photos below.

Miles: 4.2

— Linus

A pleasant brook

A pleasant brook

About the Leatherman

About the Leatherman

Climbing up to the cave

Climbing up to the cave

Whoops! and her brother

Whoops! and her brother

Linus and Fielden Stream

Linus and Fielden Stream

Linus in front of the cave

Linus in front of the cave

Looking down the hill from the cave

Looking down the hill from the cave

Linus the Bear Man

Linus the Bear Man

View to Joe's Hill

View to Joe’s Hill

Linus Pointing to a distant peak

Linus Pointing to a distant peak

Linus on the hill

Linus on the hill

View from the vista

View from the vista

Whoops! and brother at Cross River vista

Whoops! and brother at Cross River vista

Linus looking over the expanse

Linus looking over the expanse

Wittling

Wittling

Linus breaking for the view

Linus breaking for the view

Site of old CCC camp mess hall

Site of old CCC camp mess hall

 

 

Family Hike at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation (NY)

On Sunday we decided some fresh air and sunshine would be good for us so we took our dog Jojo and my son Jiffy Pop (trail name of course) to New York’s Ward Pound Ridge reservation (park), a mere 30 minutes away and Westchester County’s largest park at almost 5,000 acres.  I had been to this beautiful park in the past for a hike to one of the famed Leatherman’s caves, but it’s been many years.  This park contains many stone shelters built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during FDR’s new deal, and there was a CCC camp here as well for the workers while they built the shelters and other stone works. The park has 35 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, campsites, fishing, several picnic areas and a trailside nature museum. More info at: https://parks.westchestergov.com/ward-pound-ridge-reservation

In my new role at the Westchester Parks Foundation, this is one of the parks I will be at often to do volunteer park improvement events. So I was eager to get back there and re-aquaint myself with it. Of course, we only hiked 2.5 miles out of the 35 but it did serve the purpose at a basic level. I will get to know it quite well I am sure.  I did identify a few trail features I want to go back and address as a future project.

I was excited to get our dog Jojo back out on another hill, and my son Jiffy Pop as well, on this beautiful day. We did the Fox Hill trail, and a little bit of a walk through the Marsh. There were a lot of people it turns out, but given all the space and fresh air I’m not too worried it was a bad decision in this time of social distancing.  Photos below.

— Linus

Jiffy Pop and Jojo

Jiffy Pop and Jojo

Linus, Fielden Stream and Jojo

Linus, Fielden Stream and Jojo

View of Fox Hill

View of Fox Hill

Linus and Jojo on the Fox Hill trail

Linus and Jojo on the Fox Hill trail

Jiffy Pop stream crossing

Jiffy Pop stream crossing

Skunk Cabbage coming up

Skunk Cabbage coming up

Phenology Trail

Phenology Trail

Fielden Stream and Jiffy Pop and Jojo

Fielden Stream and Jiffy Pop and Jojo

CCC Camp was here

CCC Camp was here

A CCC-built shelter (one of many here)

A CCC-built shelter (one of many here)

 

Jojo’s first real hike, Topstone Park

We’ve been treated to some very spring-like and beautiful days in the last week and change. So we took advantage on Monday and I took Fielden Stream and our dog Jojo for their first hike at Redding, Connecticut’s Topstone Park. This was Jojo’s first real trail hike . She’s gone on some nice walks in the woods with us but those were more like rail trails and are manicured, graded and wheelchair accessible. So this was her first real hiking trail, and with quite a steep grade to start with.

Overall it’s only about 300ft but most of it is in the first quarter mile of the Chase Long View Trail. It rises steeply with little in the way of switchbacks, for about .2 miles and then levels out and is otherwise easy everywhere else we walked. The two views up there are great reward, though even in winter foliage and a bluebird day, I couldn’t see Long Island sound like they say you should.

We did see 3 juvenile bald eagles enjoying riding the wind updrafts.  I also really enjoy the base trail which follows the bottoms of the large rock outcrops the summit trails traverse. So we took that trail back, and visited the beach shortly on our walk back to the parking lot. This time of year the gate is closed so it’s about a third of a mile up the road to the pond and beach and start of the trail up the mountain. There is one long trail from outside the gate around to the end of the pond which I did last time. Not knowing how Jojo would do, I didn’t want to make her do too many hills.  She did great though and loved it. It did make her quite tired though!

I prefer to go here off season as I’m not a town resident and with the beach and swimming hole I imagine it’s quite a different experience in the summer. I am wanting to take Jojo out on longer hikes down the road so this is just the first outing testing the water with her. We went for lunch at a nice cafe on the way home and Jojo got a nice big bowl of water and some of my peanut butter cookie!  Photos below.

Miles: 2.2

— Linus

Linus and Jojo on the Chase Long Point Trail

Linus and Jojo on the Chase Long View Trail

Linus and Jojo at Chase Long View

Linus and Jojo at Chase Long View

Fielden Stream and Jojo at the pond overlook

Fielden Stream and Jojo at the pond overlook

Topstone Trail

Topstone Trail

Nice treechair

Nice treechair

The cliffs along the Base Trail

The cliffs along the Base Trail

Walking the base trail at the base of the cliffs

Walking the base trail at the base of the cliffs

FIelden Stream and Jojo

FIelden Stream and Jojo

 

Trail Maintenance Hike, Schaghticoke Mountain, NY/CT Appalachian Trail

I was really missing the trail since I got back from Georgia so I thought I’d go up last Saturday on a favorite section of ours and check out trail conditions. Turns out, trail was in great shape, so there really wasn’t much to do except enjoy the hike!  My friend from our AMC chapter joined me. The weather was perfect for February hiking. Clear, sunny, warmish, and as a result there were a lot of hikers out! I made a video you can watch here, and there are photos below.

Miles: 5.8 (2.9 out and back)

— Linus

The climb up Schaghticoke Mtn

The climb up Schaghticoke Mtn

Stream crossing

Stream crossing

Glacial erratics

Glacial erratics

More Glacial erratics

More Glacial erratics

The southern view

The southern view

Linus at The southern view

Linus at The southern view

Where the trail goes back into CT for good

Where the trail goes back into CT for good

Linus on Schaghticoke mtn near dusk

Linus on Schaghticoke mtn near dusk

Georgia Appalachian Trail Section Hike Days 1-3

Last week I had the privilege of backpacking the Georgia Appalachian Trail. While I planned for up to 2 weeks, the weather was quite erratic and the cold temperatures bested my sleeping bag and all the warm gear I threw at it. I made the call after day 6 to end early as I couldn’t drop $600-800 on a zero degree bag (and wouldn’t for a section hike) and will come back to finish Georgia and make it up to Deep Gap, NC as planned when it’s warmer and the crowds have gone through. I was at the very front end of the bubble so I still found shelter space and had the honor of accompanying some new thru hikers for their first 53 miles north.

My format for this will be to copy verbatim from my trail journal that I wrote when arriving at camp or a hostel or town each day. I have already completed the video, and you can find that here, if you prefer that format. Everything in italics is an afterthought or comment I made that wasn’t in the journal itself. Photos are below the journal entries.

Miles Day 1-3:  25.7 (including the mile southbound up Springer Mountain before heading back north.

Day 1: Springer Lot to Springer Summit to Hawk Mountain shelter. 9.1 miles

Heavy rain at start, until back at the Springer lot, met Jarhead and his dog, I think they were heading into town because his dog popped his inflatable pad. Mostly downhill and flat until long climb up Hawk Mountain from Three Forks. Missed the turnoff to Long Creek Falls. Started to downpour about 2 miles before the shelter. Here with a crew of 5 and local day hiker Jamie Hiikes. We tried (or rather Paul did) to make a fire but its all wet and windy and is starting to rain again. Going to have dinner soon then sleep — was up early at Donald and Mary’s (Further Appalachian Shuttle) so I should sleep ok.

Day 2: Hawk Mountain Shelter to Gooch Mountain shelter. 7.6 miles

Got out around 9, with Rockflipper – and I got ahead of him on Sassafras, which normally would kick one’s ass-afras but I felt strong and crushed it. Too bad the view of Atlanta and the Marietta owl towers was a whiteout. Got a few views before the rain. Justus was mercifully re-routed but I still had some climb up it, plus a few more, and 2 exciting creek crossings including Justus creek. I took my boots off for both, and that’s actually good as clean feet also means less blisters. The water was warmish and felt good but I did tear a sock so I’ll get another pair at Neels Gap. Beautiful hike and I saw Mary who was shuttling out the hikers I shared a bunk with the night before, as one of them got sick. People left water at Horse Gap and Cooper Gap

 Afterthoughts: (not in my journal)  … and I found out later it was two hikers that joined us at the shelter this night: Lefty and another gentleman who didn’t have a trail name yet. They had a lot of extra so they dropped it there before hitting the trail themselves.

I just got to the shelter and had lunch and rockflipper is here now. Time to hang and have fun. And roll my muscles out.

 Afterthoughts: (not in my journal) : I picked that up from Early Riser, and with that and eating banana chips daily I didn’t have a single charlie horse! I also learned later from Whittle that I could use my trekking poles to do that too — just gotta do it before I set up my tent if using my tent as they hold it up!

Day 3: Gooch Mountain Shelter to Henry Gap. 9 miles

It was torrential rain all night and thunder and lightning in the early AM. It all got wet, some rain blowing in sideways.  Lefty and his friend had came in to camp later last night as did Oso who is one of my friends now. He hikes with Sleeves and knows him well. We made a video in the AM before McGyver and Snuggles (Paul) and everyone left.  The two late arrivals headed for Neels Gap then Blairsville and Snuggles and McGyver are taking a few days in Dahlonega to switch out some gear. Rain stopped shortly after leaving camp and rockflipper and I headed up Ramrock and Big Cedar — both big climbs but we did get the views on Ramrock before it socked in at Preacher’s rock, where we met some nice local hikers. We checked out Woody Gap and took pics there too. Some pretty cascades on the trail south of Henry Gap where we got off. Mary came out to get us on the trail and we went back to get a room at the Seasons Inn in Blairsville and hang at the Grateful hiker. Then the AYCE (all you can eat) pizza buffet smash! Now we just finished organizing all our stuff for the day/slackpack to Neels Gap tomorrow and tomorrow’s resupply and stay at Mountain Crossings. Enjoying the warm room, hot shower and toilet and town food. Did laundry too and dried out our stuff in a yard sale all over the room. We leave at 10 tomorrow and hope to hit Mountain Crossings by 330. It’s 7 miles, much of it uphill. Bringing my spikes in case it’s icy but starting late so that can melt off a bit.

— Linus

The weather wasn't promising

The weather wasn’t promising

At the Atlanta airport - it's like they knew!

At the Atlanta airport – it’s like they knew!

The Further Appalachian Shuttle and Grateful hiker are awesome check them out- based out of Blairsville

The Further Appalachian Shuttle and Grateful hiker are awesome check them out- based out of Blairsville

At the Springer Mountain lot

At the Springer Mountain lot

On top of Springer

On top of Springer

A shoutout from my shuttle

A shoutout from my shuttle

Refilling my water

Refilling my water

Three forks - all the creeks were super high

Three forks – all the creeks were super high

Hawk Mountain shelter

Hawk Mountain shelter

Paul and Jamie trying to make a fire but everything was saturated

Paul and Jamie trying to make a fire but everything was saturated

Rhodendron tunnels

Rhodendron tunnels

Justus creek crossing

Justus creek crossing

Creek crossing in my water / camp shoes

Creek crossing in my water / camp shoes

Linus on Ramrock Mountain

Linus on Ramrock Mountain

Resting in Blairsville at the Seasons Inn

Resting in Blairsville at the Seasons Inn

KT tape to the rescue for hotspots that almost became blisters

KT tape to the rescue for hotspots that almost became blisters

Linus and Rockflipper at Preacher's rock, Big Cedar Mountain

Linus and Rockflipper at Preacher’s rock, Big Cedar Mountain

Linus at Henry Gap

Linus at Henry Gap