On arrival at Atlanta I bought a pretty fancy cell phone that can take pics as well as make cell phone calls and much else besides but learning all about how to use this as i go along is hampered by 2 things …
1/ Cell phone signal is very patchy and sometimes one can go far with out finding signal.
I keep this expensive item in a well padded protected location and access has to be by taking off my rucksack … not just shoved casually in my pocket … so some effort is required to stop and access it just to see IF a certain place may have signal…Amazingly at the summits of two over 5000 feet high mountains… (Standing Indian mountain and near by Albert Mountain both in NC) no signal; Very peculiar me thinks
2/ One has to be VERY careful to preserve battery power especially when out in the woods and hills for 4 or 5 days where there is no electricity of course . I’ve addressed this issue by being able to borrow from Dannielle Griegers father a small solar charger.
I am staying with the Griegers just now.
I am staying with the Griegers just now.
Mostly I’ve been hiking from shelter hut to shelter hut and have met a right mixed bag of pretty amazing folk en rout ..all good souls and interesting… two that I get on with quite well with are pretty laid back characters named Conor and Ken who sleep in very sophisticated hammocks slung between 2 trees complete with an awning …relatively few women out hiking all alone but one that I’ve met described herself as a ”frail flower”…but my goodness could she hike ..and has long since disappeared over the horizon ahead of me !
The greatest distance walked in a day so far has been 12 miles with two other days in double figures and I am hoping to build up to 15 or 16 a day. I started out on the 24 April and reached Franklin by 7 May with just one non hiking day during this time at Hiawassee .
As I’ve progressed I’ve had to lighten my rucksack … splurged on a decent down S bag which was much lighter of course and smaller than the one Id bought from Nevis and that was money well spent ….Had to send my treasured Collins page a day diary to Dave Robinsons daughter…. Ive been writing such a diary since aged about 14 !…. but for continue on note paper….I believe Ive got the rucksack weight down to about 28 or 30 lbs …must remember to weigh it before I leave the Griegers this weekend.
I cook on an alcohol stove… fueled by denatured fuel one buys by the oz. and kept in a glass ex honey jar and dispensed from jar to stove with a spoon used for no other purpose …I ve yet to burn down a shelter and hope I never do .Many hikers use tiny gas cylinders.
Shelters are simple rustic 3 sided affairs with a broad wooden shelf that can accomodate up to about 7 or 8 sleeping hikers 1st come 1st space available ….some shelters are better than others ….all have a place to lay a communal fire…and so far all have a mouldering privy near by ….some roofless and none with lockable doors; these luxuries are maintained by hiking clubs of different areas through which one walks ….shelters are free to stay in.
Of course there are many hikers who are not ”thru AT hikers like myself ….just good folk out for day or weekend hikes ….some spending a night out overnight … occasionally one comes across groups of Scouts…plus leaders …all friendly and helpful.
AT itself is well maintained though actual walking conditions can vary …sometimes rocky sometimes stony … specially designed steps in places occasionally ….I find it hard climbing steeply …feel like an old gravel truck grinding up through they Gingerland hills and definitely no faster !! Near high summits large expanses of exposed sloping rock face have to be negotiated with care. Descending Blood Mountain to Neels Gap in heavy rain over this kind of rockface was pretty treacherous and steep especially has my rucksack was over weight at the time and the wetter it got the heavier it got too…but as you can see I survived.
Actually the weather has been terrific and the above mentioned wet descent is really the only super wet experience Ive encountered ….one day I found myself hiking with thunder and lightening all around and witnessed this brilliant flash forking down through the trees at me …I just ducked and hurried on…/
All along the trail …about every 100 yards or so trees or occasionally large rocks are marked with white blazes …and these are there to guide you ..to ensure you never stray from the AT … its very useful and indeed reassuring to see these white blazes…at a major turn in the trail there are double white blazes to forewarn you ….
Tomorrow early 11May I am off to Patrick Johnsons Graduation at/ from Clemson…hope to see Nikki too as well as Patrick and maybe some of Jim Johnsons relatives who live in the Clemson area.Looking forward to getting back on the Trail this weekend very much indeed.