Monday, November 11, 2013

4-Nighter In A New Hammock

I think the third shower I took got the trail out of my hair -what little hair I have left.

We had a blast. From the time all four of us (Sadly Mike was not able to make it) were in the truck the fun started. We were all excited about getting back onto the trail. Two of us, "Shortcut" and myself,  have health issues, but that was not going to stop us. We NEEDED to get outside and into the mountains her in GA.

"Shortcut" has a torn Rotator Cuff in his left shoulder, I think, and I have two herniated disks in my neck. But, with pain pills and muscle relaxers in tow we set first foot print onto the trail around lunch time Monday the 4th.

We parked on the parking deck at Springer Mountain and headed south (approx. 1 mile) up to Springer Mountain shelter. We took a little break there eating SPAM singles, trail mix and other assorted snacks and sucked down some water. We then filled our water bags to filter into our camel backs and other bottles and headed south down the Approach trail to Black gap shelter.

These shelters we stayed at are not new to our group. we originally decided to go to NC and be dropped off there and hike south to springer and cover the 80+ mile of the Georgia section in a week, but with our ailments, we decided it would be more responsible if we simply parked at Springer and bounce around the AT and just enjoy a few miles of hiking and a whole lot of God's creation. The colors really popped out there this week with the winter cold rolling in changing the leaves to an orangish, redish brownish color.

So down at Black Gap shelter Justin (no trail name yet) and I Trudged down the steep hill to the water source which was but a trickle. We spent a few minutes there collecting water for the entire group and headed back up hill to the camp site.

We all hung in hammocks about thirty yards from the shelter in case some more needy hikers stopped by and required the shelter. To our surprise, a pleasant surprise, no other hikers came into camp and we had the place to our self.

We pillaged the area of as much wood as we could find as this is a very popular spot and dry wood is hard to come by. We were able to have enough to last the evening and on through till morning. We were even able to save a few twigs and larger for a nice little fire in the morning for morning coffee.

Monday night was the first time I used my new Clark Hammock and I got to say WOW. It is the warmest hammock I have had the pleasure to use. With the built in "Weather Shield" the heat from your body is trapped within the hammock keeping you warmer. At times during the night I had to open the shield at a couple of locations to create a cross-wind just to cool me off.

You also sleep straight in the hammock and not diagonally as in a standard gathered-end hammock like a DIY or an ENO.

The Clark is also lighter than my current ENO setup since I don’t have to carry as much bug net material. The other bug nets I have used cocoon the whole hammock and with the Clark, you only have as much bug net as you need. It is sewn into the top portion of the hammock.

Tuesday morning started with our ritual of waking up, with a small fire and breakfast. We took our time as we were not in any hurry because we planned to go north, back over Springer and up to Stover Creek Shelter. We headed back up the Approach Trail, heading North to Springer Mtn. Shelter (about two miles) and back down to the parking deck and on to Stover Creek Shelter.

At Stover Creek Shelter, our routine kicked in again and we set up our hammocks first thing and gathered wood for the fire at night. We were able to enjoy a fire until the wind blew in and caused problems. We turned in around ten O’clock or so and the rain started dancing on our rain flys around two O’clock AM. The rain lasted all night and we were able to finally emerge from our bear burritos around ten or so.

We had breakfast and started gathering more wood for that night. We planned on hiking farther north but the weather was predicted to take a turn for the worse again later that day so we opted to stay put.

We managed to get enough dry wood, and store some wet wood in the shelter for later that night and then we had some visitors. A couple of guy from Texas came through doing a week of training, and another one from Mississippi.  (did I spell that one right?) We also had a guy name Tommy (name changed) he was chasing Daemons.

So after another day at Stover Creek, we hiked further north to Three Forks and took a little breather there. This was Thursday, I think. Monday night at Big Gap, Tuesday and Wednesday night at Stover Creek, and here we are on Thursday resting at Three Forks.
After a little break at Three Forks, we headed back South down the AT towards Stover Creek and came to an intersection of the AT and the Benton Mackaye Trail. “Shortcut” had an AT map on his phone and suggested we take the Benton Mackaye trail back since it “looked like a short cut.” Well it was NOT a shortcut and this is how he got his trail name. it was also a WHOLE LOT STEEPER.  It was brutal. But once we got to the top of what ever mountain we were on, they told us what the name was, I just forgot, the scenery was spectacular!
Once over the top and back on the AT heading south to the parking deck, we decided we would car camp the last night and head home Friday morning.

All in all it was a great trip for us to just get away and spend some time outside without all the hustle and bustle of living in Atlanta.
We are already planning another tip for March. This will just be a couple of nights at Springer meeting the folks that are starting a journey to the other end of the AT some 2200 miles north in Main.
Look forward to seeing you there.
                                                                                                                              -Steve


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