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Appalachian Trail... photos and journal

Spring of 2002... In the deep south...


(Page 2 of 10 pages)

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Getting up Blood Mountain was a really nice climb and this is the stone shelter that has graced the top of this mountain for many many years. Unfortunately, there is no water source at the shelter so if you plan on staying here you'd better haul up what you need from the little spring way back down at the base of the mountain like I did on my '94 thru-hike, or you can just keep on hiking to Neel's Gap like I did this year.


A short stop at Neels Gap!


Neel's Gap and the Walasi-Yi Center is the first major stop on the hike if you didn't hitch into the town of Suches a few miles back. Only about 30 miles into the hike the Center makes the trail very forgiving since the less experienced hikers will find a very well stocked outdoor supply store with most anything you'd need for a long distance hike, including a very knowledgeable staff. There is also a hiker's hostel on the lower floor and a hiker's grocery section good enough for resupply.

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Notice the white blaze just to the left of the breezeway in the Center which indicates the direction of the AT and the only place on the entire trail where the trail actually goes through a building.

As I said earlier, this had been an unusually warm spring which brought out many of those cold-blooded creatures including this beautiful garter snake.

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WOW! This picture certainly speaks for itself as the mountains unfold right before my eyes with no end in sight! This was a special moment as seen from atop Cowrock Mountain and is a typical example of the beauty that abounds in the southern Appalachians.

Sometimes the stark beauty of the trail can be easily overlooked (or stepped upon) if your eye isn't constantly scanning the ground. I sparred a couple of minutes to wallow on the trail for a very rewarding and close examination of this magnificent moth.


From my journal (April 19th) Day-3..."Once again the trail today was totally full with one straight up, then straight down after another... an amazing challenge even for a seasoned thru-hike, then considering that this was the hottest day so far which a local radio station announced record temperatures for northern Georgia. I passed by so many other hikers sitting down while trying to deal with the scorching heat in their own way, then on a few occasions it was me sitting there beside a cool mountain spring with that hot, blank stare in my eyes!

Somehow I still made another 20-plus mile day and got to Tray Mountain Shelter which is so beautiful with several open areas with green grass and a view to almost kill for. This was just one of those really tough days on the trail that makes everyone question their reasons for being out here, but that is good and the way it should be from time to time. Although not immediately understood it is days like this that make us better people in the long run."


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Hog Pen Gap

Another early spring creature sneaking out from under the rocks for a moment of warm sunshine.

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Crossing over a quiet Unicoi Gap.


From my journal (April 20th) Day-4..."I was up before daylight this morning anxious to get moving during the cool hours of the day. It almost felt like I was hiking in the southern California desert again! During the night at the shelter a small mouse slipped in under the noseeum netting of my tarptent in search of food then got trapped inside with me! The netting around the sides of the tarptent nicely "boxed-in" the shelter and thus made for a near complete seal after placing my plastic ground cloth atop it, however the downside was that it made the most perfect mouse trap... a mouse could easily slip in under the netting, but once inside it couldn't find a way out and thus began running in circles around the boxed-in netting like it was at the Talladega 500! After waking me up I turned on my photon light and after several hits and misses I finally pounded it with my clothing bag until it went unconscious, then I finished it off with one of the small stones weighing down my ground cloth. No where do I fear animals more than in or near the shelters which are magnets for mice, bears, and other creatures of the night.

It was great being back out on the trail just at daybreak and I enjoyed the coolness until about mid day when the heat hit again, but the humidity wasn't so bad. A slightly red sunrise concerned me but I moved on down a steep northern Georgia Appalachian Trail. I stopped for a half hour at Deep Gap Shelter to drink up on some good water, sign the register, then I thoroughly enjoyed eating a 32 ounce can of mixed veggies that someone had left behind. They were so good and just what my system needed at the moment!

At Plum Orchard Shelter I stopped for an hour to cook up a good hot meal before attempting the steep climb from here up to Bly Gap and into North Carolina. I enjoyed a short conversation with another hiker named "Corncob" as a few members from the Georgia AT Club were putting up some bear-proof cables for food bags. Later, I made it to the Georgia/North Carolina stateline, which really lifted my spirits, and it gave me the extra push that I needed to get to Muskrat Creek Shelter where I met "Kiwi" who had set up a Hennesy Hammock very nicely inside the shelter. Although there was still a couple more hours of daylight I decided to stop and set up my tarptent up on the ridge just across the trail from the shelter which provided magnificent views into the valleys beyond. "


I didn't stay at Deep Gap shelter but I spent a nice hour break here since I needed water and wanted to sign the register.

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A white trillium bursting through the spongy rich forest mulch.

Getting closer and closer to the North Carolina state line at Dicks Creek Gap.

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It looks very harmless in the early spring, but this young shoot of poison ivy will make you cry for forgiveness if you dare to touch it!

Beautiful violets... and the leaves are full with vitamins and although a bit starchy I like to eat them when away from fresh food while on the trail.

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