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Trip Reports The Trip Reports forum is for backpackers to share their actual (not links to) trip reports and/or journal entries for their wilderness backpacking and day-hiking trips. Please include photos and information regarding what worked (e.g. gear) and what didn't.


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  #1  
Old 03-16-2017, 03:45 AM
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tonto tonto is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 471
2013 AT Section Hike - Allen Gap to Hot Springs, NC

NEW A.T. START DATE, AND A TRAIL TALE

A few days ago I decided to get back on the AT again where I got off on my attempted thru-hike back in 2013. At that time I had been having knee troubles since Franklin and by the time I reached Bobblets Gap in Virginia I couldn't walk at all and had a shuttle guy pick me up on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Peaks of Otter Overlook and he took me into Roanoke to a motel. The next day I was on the Greyhound bus for home. After a visit to the doctor and an x-ray I was told I had a sever stress fracture in my right knee and would have to hang up my hiking poles for six months to a year.

Fast forward to yesterday and I received a call from my younger brother Mark who wants to get in on my AT adventure. We decided to move my start date forward three days to Friday, May 5th. He asked why I had planned leaving on a Tuesday. Having written and published the only comprehensive guide on public transportation to the Appalachian Trail, I told him the trick of how to get a rock bottom price on Greyhound tickets which I'll pass on to you... always purchase on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, at least 21 days ahead, with departure time before 10 am, and a bus ticket is discounted as much as 60% less than just walking up to the counter and purchasing a ticket the day you want to ride.

Anyways, when I hike a section of the AT with family members I always take them to the most scenic sections of the Trail. Seeing as Mark only has a long weekend available and the Roanoke area is where I intended to start, we will be hiking a section I've already done twice that's been dubbed the Triple Crown of Virginia, the three most scenic viewpoints from the Trail in the state. In a 28 mile stretch of the Trail along the ridge of Catawba Mountain north of Roanoke are Dragon's Tooth, a 35 foot stone monolith that spikes into the sky; McAfee Knob, a rock ledge which is probably the most photographed spot on the whole AT; and Tinker's Cliffs, a half mile of boulders and drop-offs with commanding views of the Catawba Valley. We'll end our adventure near the town of Daleville, where there is a local outfitter at a shopping mall that can shuttle us back to Mark's car. From there Mark will drive me to where I intended to start my hike at the Peaks of Otter overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Perhaps this trip will be another AT adventure to match the one we had back when we hiked a section of the AT north of the trail town of Hot Springs, NC during my attempted thru-hike in 2013. On that hike Mark had a close encounter with some wildlife. The manager of the hiker hostel in town, whose trail name is Chuck Norris, shuttled us north to Allen Gap in the early afternoon and Mark and I intended a leisurely 15 mile hike south interrupted by an overnight at Spring Mountain shelter on the way back to town. We made good time for two old farts hiking 1,300 feet uphill and reached the summit of Spring Mtn and it's name sake shelter about 2 in the afternoon, way too early to set up camp. The guidebook I was carrying showed a campsite near the summit of Rich Mountain near a fire tower 2.7 miles up the Trail and we decided to press on.

In the late afternoon, about 5, we reached our destination and took the short side trail to the campsite, and soon after other hikers arrived that included two young guys who where memorable because it took both of them nearly an hour of fumbling to hang a bear bag in a tree near the creek, which was entertainment for Mark and I during supper; a girl whose trail name I remember as Butterfly because she said a butterfly landed on her shoulder camping at a shelter; and a deaf guy from Roanoke I'd been hiking off and on with over the past two weeks whose trail name was Southern Gold. Nearly deaf from birth it was easy to communicate with him if you where facing him so he could read your lips. The last I saw of him was the trail town of Erwin, TN at Uncle Johnny's hiker hostel.

After setting up camp, collecting water at the nearby creek and having an early supper, Mark and I took the half mile side trail to the Fire-tower and took in the sunset and quickly returned to camp. As I hunkered down under my tarp in the open Mark prepared to do the same in his nearby backpacking tent. Just before getting into the tent Mark asked with mild concern if I worried about being bothered by wild animals sleeping out in the open. I responded I'd been doing it just about one weekend a month with the Boy Scouts for about 15 years and never had a problem, so it was likely my luck would continue.

In the middle of the night I was awakened by a noisy disturbance accompanied by oaths that aren't in the Boy Scout handbook coming from Mark's tent. Things eventually quieted down and I rolled over and went back to sleep. In the morning at breakfast, Mark asked if I had been bothered by mice while I was sleeping and I said no. Mark then revealed the source of the night disturbance. In the middle of the night he had gotten out of the tent to water a tree and had left the tent door unzipped. When he got back into the tent several minutes later there was a mouse inside the the tent and he had the darnedest time expelling the unwanted furry rascal. We had a good laugh, broke camp and hiked back to Hot Spring without further incidents.

Looking forward to more adventures, sans wildlife, with Mark in a few more weeks.

Last edited by tonto : 03-16-2017 at 04:00 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-23-2017, 10:35 AM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
philman philman is offline
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Backpack: MYOG Cuben, Osprey Atmos 65 AG
Sleeping Gear: MYOG Down Quilt, Enlightened Equipment Accomplice
Shelter: SMD Deschutes CF Tarp, SMD Lunar Duo
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Alton, Illinois
Posts: 99
My buddy and I will be doing this same section in a couple of months (southbound from Allen Gap) but we're heading on to Standing Bear. We started from Erwin last spring with the intention of making it to Standing Bear but had to pull off at Allen Gap due to the fires. I've hiked a bit on and near Max Patch so I'm familiar with that. Otherwise, how would you characterize this section (again, Allen Gap to Standing Bear...southbound) with respect to difficulty, availability of water, campsites (not so fond of shelters), etc? We've done all of the trail up to Standing Bear from Amicalola Falls, so base your assessment off of that portion.

Thanks.
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Old 03-23-2017, 06:35 PM
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tonto tonto is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 471
The A.T. Southbound from Allen Gap to Hot Springs isn't that difficult once you're up and over both Spring Mtn and Rich Mtn, and mostly rather a steep downhill from Lovers Leap into Hot Springs. There is good camping along the east bank of the French Broad River before crossing the river into town if you don't want to spend money for a room. I stayed at Laughing Heart Lodge when I was in Hot Springs, but Mountain Magnolia Inn is the most popular place to stay. Continuing south from Hot Springs you're going to find it a much tougher uphill haul practically all the way to Standing Bear, going over Dear Park Mtn, Bluff Mtn, Walnut Mtn, Max Patch, and Snowbird Mtn. It's been a few years and I have no memory of camping options, or the water situation. It's god you're not into shelters, because I do remember the Walnut Mtn shelter is one of the oldest on the Trail from the 1930s and looks like it was constructed by demented hillbillies.
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Old 03-23-2017, 07:34 PM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
philman philman is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Forums Moderator
Backpack: MYOG Cuben, Osprey Atmos 65 AG
Sleeping Gear: MYOG Down Quilt, Enlightened Equipment Accomplice
Shelter: SMD Deschutes CF Tarp, SMD Lunar Duo
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Alton, Illinois
Posts: 99
LOL!!! Alright then, i'll stick to the tarp. Stayed at Laughing Heart with the Mrs after having to bail last year. Nice place, though she and I had one of the private rooms in the hostel. The bunkroom definitely had that typical "hostel funk" smell but there were still a lot of people coming through heading north. Everyone was stuck waiting for the trail to open back up. You could see the fire from the hostel. Pretty spooky!

Thanks for the heads up!
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