Archives for August 2008

Great Weekend or Day Hike!

People often ask me where is a good place to go for a weekend trip? So I thought I would write about a good weekend trip that is a little out of town but not so far that you feel like you spent more time in the car than in the woods. This trip can be done as an over night trip or a day trip. This weekend hike takes us to north Georgia to a mountain called Blood Mountain. Don’t let the name scare you. Some believe the name of the mountain comes from the bloody battle between the Cherokee and Creek Indians while others believe that the name is based on the color of the lichen and rhododendron that grow on the mountain’s summit. Blood Mountain’s summit is 4,461 feet and is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. There is a historic stone shelter at the top of Blood Mountain and some of the best views on the Appalachian Trail. The hike south to the mountain is the shorter and more popular route for day hikers but is also steeper. You should also know that there is no water on the mountain so you will need to carry water or you will get dehydrated. The hike to the summit is 2 miles from the parking area. The last mile to the summit is spectacular and has amazing views of the valleys. The trail head is on highway 19/129, there is a historic stone building that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934-37, this building is an outdoor store called Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi, and is a great place to hang out, buy a snack and drink after your hike up and back from Blood Mountain. Their is a view from the side of the store that is worth checking out and a great place to take a few pictures. As a day hike it is a little over 4-mile hike so be sure you are prepared to take you time and enjoy it. Don’t get in a hurry and take water and snacks. The top is a great spot for lunch if you time it right. If you plan to make this an overnight trip then you may want to take 2 cars and drop one off at the parking area at the Walasi-Yi then drive to the trail head at Woody Gap on highway. This hike is a total off 11.5 miles so it is wise to break it up into 2 days and 1 night. The first day start early enough to take you time to hike the strenuous 8.3 miles and set up camp at Slaughter Gap. There are plenty of good, flat spots to put up your tent and there is water a short hike back south on the Appalachian Trail. Slaughter Gap is situated at the bottom of Blood Mountain. Day two is a shorter hike with spectacular views and you end the hike at the Walasi-Yi store.  Also keep in mind the weather. It can get very cold in the winter and snows often at elevation. Be prepared for weather changes as it can change fast. This is a popular area so be aware of those around you and don’t hike alone, safety first. This is one of my favorite hikes, I hope you like it.

Father Son Campouts!

Every year for my birthday my dad and I would go on a weekend backpacking trip. He would always ask me where “I would like to go this year?” The place we went the most often is one charliesbunionof my favorite places on the planet to go. It is a section of the Appalachian Trail, from Newfound gap to Charlie’s Bunion. This section is very well traveled in the summer but in March, which is when we went it is too cold for most people so it was not too crowded. The hike itself is not very difficult as it mostly runs the ridges. We would make reservation to stay at the Ice Water Springs shelter. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park required a backcountry reservation so you will need to call the park 30 days in advance of your trip. These trips were learning experiences and fun times that I will always cherish. We would leave as soon after school as dad could get home from work. We would drive up that night and find a church with a light on. Dad would ask the folks in the church if we could put up a tent behind the church and spend the night talking and getting very little sleep for the anticipation of the next days hike. We would rise early and drive to Gatlinburg and have breakfast, usually pancakes at the Old fashion Pancake House. We would park the car at the Newfound Gap parking lot and hike the 1.9 miles to the Ice Water Springs shelter stopping to have lunch at a precipice overlooking the Oconaluftee valley. Then after a short rest we would leave our stuff in the shelter and hike 1.5 miles to Charlie’s Bunion. We would enjoy the views at Charlie’s Bunion, have a snack and take amazing photos that would make my mom nervous then hike back to the shelter in time for dinner. The weather was always unpredictable in March. I have seen it sunny and clear to over a foot of snow windy. In March you can usually count on it being cold.

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