The trail crosses rivers, railroads, rocks, roads, interstates, dams, as well as meandering thru the streets of several 'trailtowns'. Towns like Hot Springs, NC, Damascus, VA, Harper's Ferry, WV, Delaware Water Gap, PA and Hanover, NH all have something the backpacker is craving. Usually the "All-you-can-eat" restaurants are hit first. Then the motels, laundromats, banks, cobblers and grocery stores receive the hiker. To the hiker, these towns are all a special part of hiking.
Dayhiking: Dayhikers generally hike loop trails, or return on the same trail. A backpack is not required, though many use daypacks for food, water and emergency gear.
Slackpacking: Similar to dayhiking, only the hiker typically hikes in one direction. After reaching the end, there is generally some form of prearranged transportation waiting.
Section-hiking: A hiker, with backpack, hikes from one point to another. Either at the beginning or end of the hike, the hiker will need to make arrangements for shuttling to or from the vehicle. Section hikes are various lengths, but generally start and end in towns or on major roads.
Thru-hiking: Involves hiking the trail, from start to finish, in one, essentially continuous trip. Many start on Springer Mt. and go north to Maine and Katahdin. Others are known as 'southbounders' and hike from north to south. A 'yo-yo' is a hike in which the hiker hikes the entire trail in one direction, and upon reaching the end, turns and heads the other direction. A 'flip-flop' involves hiking the trail in its entirety, but not necessarily in order. This allows the hiker to avoid weather related problems.
Facts, favs and other stuff
This is the page of the statistics, loose as they are, as well as some
of my favorite and least favorite things. I'm sure that I'll remember more
things that I feel to be worth mentioning. On the other hand, I am an old
man with dwindling harddrive space...
Stoat, quotes and anecdotes...
Here are some funny things that happened, or were said. Most of them involve my hiking buddy, Stoat. Some involve my hiking buddette, Pokey. Some don't really involve anything.
Here are my fotos from Maine. Sooner or later, I'll get 'em all loaded. Enjoy.
Dial 'M' for...
Here are some things that start with an 'M' that had some sort of affect on the trip. It includes music, M&M's, mail, magic, meals, mountains and Maine. I'm sure there will be more 'M's, too.
The various people that we encountered, both hikers and otherwise, was a big part of what the hike was. Here are some stories and mini-bios of some of the people. Don't be offended if you were there, but aren't here.
Here are some...
Definitions of some trail terms. Some of these are just my opinion.
Trail Magic: Any unexpected gift, or good deed encountered while
Trail Angel: Generally the one doling out the trail magic. Someone doing nice things for hikers
Yogi: The art of getting something for nothing. Food, rides, places to stay can all be 'yogied'.
Hiking shorts: The shorts I wear while hiking.
Hiking staff: The people who take care of things while I'm hiking.
Northbounder: A person hiking in a generally northward directions (Georgia to Maine)
Southbounder: Typically considered to be the opposite of a northbounder. A special person, indeed.
Purist: A person who hikes every step of the white-blazed Trail. No short-cuts or sidetrails.
Flip-flop: To hike the Trail in a non-consecutive order.
Yo-yoing: Hiking the Trail from one end to the, then back.
Thru-hiker: Someone in the process of hiking the entire trail in one hike.
Bandit camp: To camp someplace where you ain't supposed to camp. (also Stealth camp)
(Suggestions? E-me with 'em)
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Our second problem was that we chose one of the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River on which to hike. We were two young men in pretty good physical shape. Physical shape has far less to do with backpacking than mental shape does. You have to have the ability to tell your body that the pain you are feeling doesn't hurt. We did not know this, or could not do this.
My wife dropped us off at the trailhead and we headed down the hill. It was on a five mile afternoon, but we still struggled almost instantly. We met a fisherman who told us there was a mother bear with cubs in the area. After we set up our tent and camp, darkness, and fear, set in. Every noise became that bear. After talking late into the night, we slept late into the morning. By the time we got our packs loaded, it was almost noon.
We followed a beautiful mountain stream for the first mile, then turned to start a climb. We were out of water almost instantly. All of our food required re-hydration or was heavily salted. When we reached a trail crossing, we were thirsty and sore. A turn to the right lead up the hill, to a road, and hopefully a ride to Gatlinburg. Go straight ahead and it is 4 more miles to the next water, and another night with the bear.
When we got to the road, we were parched. We caught water falling from rocks. A camper with brake trouble gave us some warm, rusty water. A park ranger gave us a ride to Newfound Gap. I would love to know what that ranger thought when she saw our gear. Perhaps not. A nice dayhiker from Knoxville gave us a ride to Gatlinburg. He dropped us off right at dark. Chuck and I had a total of $.96 and no credit cards.
People looked at us as though we were the freaks we were. We walked to a vacant lot between two motels (Yes, there was still a vacant lot in Gatlinburg.) We hid our packs and went to find my wife, who was supposed to be staying in Gatlinburg. We walked around town until 2:30 in the morning, using our $.96 to buy a can of Mountain Dew to share. After having no luck finding the person who was my wife at the time, we shared a sleeping bag for a cover and had the most restless nights' sleep I've ever had.
At 6:00 a.m., we loaded our gear and headed back to the Smokies National Park. We were confronted by a ranger that accused us of 'bandit camping'. I nearly said "I'll show you where we slept," but I feared we would be in trouble for trespassing. We made our way to the point where all roads going to Clingman's Dome meet, knowing that the person who was my wife at the time would have to pass us on her way to our planned rendezvous. She showed up three hours later, and tears of joy were nearly streaming down the faces of two strong, young men.
Other than learning a great deal about packing, and myself, the
only other positive from this trip was some quality time with my brother.
Most people would have never packed again. My brother would have liked
to have never packed again, though I've forced him into two subsequent
trips. I think that I figured out that I really don't have a choice. I
have to hike. There are still times, every day I'm hiking, that I don't
enjoy it. I have to hike.
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