Photo slideshow from our triphttp://www.flickr.com/photos/3154371...30382182/show/
First off thank you all for this wonderful resource(HF) which has helped me develop my DIY sleep system....!
well our trip started off on a few bad notes... first we set out every year on an annual hike in November but last year in 08 we missed our trip. This year we decided to go in February to feed our hunger after missing last year. We started off planning with four guys hiking. That changed to three due to the economy strain on one, then to two with the onset of pneumonia a week before our trip. Now 2 days before our trip a fellow fireman was killed in a motorcycle accident. We made the decision to still go and try and make the best out of our trip with just the two of us(Julio and I).
We originally planned to hike from Neel gap to Dicks creek gap in Georgia but with just one car we needed a loop trail. We've done North Carolina's standing Indian loop before and thought it would be even more fun with the chance of snow so we decided to give it a go. We left Florida on Monday morning at 6am and drove strait to the trail head parking lot at rock gap. We arrived at the parking lot at 430pm, snow on the ground! We hiked about 2 miles to glassmine gap which is were the longbranch trail intersects the Appalachian trail(AT). Following that trail there was a perfect little camp site about .2 miles from glassmine gap. We set up camp next to the creek and ate dinner with a small fire in the established pit. This was my first trip with my do it yourself (DIY) down under quilt, DIY black-cat 10'x12' tarp and my new hennessy clone; no net; water proof winter hammock. This setup did great considering my temp gage read 16deg! my backside was nice and toasty but even with booties on, my feet did get cold. I think my cold feet might have been due to my 20deg sleeping bag not being adequate. (No condensation issues at all)! the next morning we were slow getting up due to the cold air but we managed to pack up by 10am. We hiked 2 more miles down to the standing Indian campground along the longbranch creek trail and found a set of two bear prints one large about five inches across and another about three across. the prints were in the snow and melted through to the road with ice sculpting the footprint and nails. We then took the Kimsey creek trail 3.7 miles up to deep gap on the AT. If you haven't hiked this short portion of trails your missing out. It is gorgeous with many little cascades and stream crossings, you might even say that the creek becomes the trail for short portions were rock hopping is the only passage. We made it up and out of there to deep gap by 2pm and continued to press on. We made short work of the 1,160' climb up standing Indian mountain (5,500') but still were losing light while trying to find a camp site. It was hard for me to keep hiking because I could of hung my hammock anywhere up there but Julio was tenting(idiot) and the section from standing Indian to beech gap is on a steep windy ridge with no real flat areas near the trail. We did manage to make it down to Beech gap by 6pm but we put in more miles than we had planned on so we were tired (about 11 miles). We set up camp and ate dinner. Julio started to feel sick so he hit the sack early and I stayed up to listen to the owls over my head calling each other. As I finally laid back to sleep I hear Julio jump up and run towards my hammock and run into just about every thing, he then proceed to through up and burp real loud. I couldn't believe how sick he sounded and then it sounded like he started throwing things around and knocking stuff over. I started getting up to see if he was OK when I realized it wasn't him...... it was growling and snorting. I pooped my pants....! not really but I was scared. I grabbed my 2" pocket knife, opened it and RIIIIIIP! there goes my new tarp! O crud! I was scared and mad!!! so just as I start to collect my self to try and figure out how I am going to defend myself from this rampaging creature I hear a loud squeal and then a kind of Onk Onk. "Ohhh what a wimp I am", it is just a couple of wild bores heading down the ridge tearing though the leaves. They were close and some of the noises they can make are astonishingly scary. They were growling and barking at each other. I had never heard these noises come from a pig before. Anyways as they moved through I could hear Julio still snoring in the background and I thought you have got to be kidding me! hear I am pooping my pants and he gets to sleep through all of this. I wont lie I was jealous! the next morning we got up and moving pretty quick. We continued on the AT up and over Big Butt mountain (not kidding that's the name) and ran into Albert mountain. Albert mountain is a moderate hike but the last 500' of elevation gain is more like a minnie scramble with hands on rock at some points. I really enjoyed that climb. Over that hill(sarcasm) we made it another 3/4 mile to the shelter were we planned to stay the night. It was too early to stop hiking and the weather looked to be coming in on us, also it was 50deg and starting to snow! we high tailed it down out of there and made it six more miles to the car at rock gap. A long day of hiking (15 miles give or take) but well worth the effort. We headed towards blue ridge Ga. in the freezing rain to our friends cabin for the night. All in all we had a great hike and I am thankful I brought a change of underwear! jk