March 31, 2005 | Day 4 | Miles: 3.2 | Total Miles: 30.5 End: Walasi-Yi Center, Neels Gap, GA Danielle: Rain, rain and more rain! Plus lightening and thunder from 2am through 9am. Fun fun. We got up at 6am and started packing up. It was pouring so we figured we would head out early and try to geta spot in the hostel. And it worked! We're clean and dry now. Yeah. But it was a soggy 3.2m up and over Blood Mt. and down. Only took us about 1.5hours. We were moving! We plan to hang out here and eatand resupply and relax. Luxury :-)
Ryan: rain, downpour, 50s we planned to stop here, and stop we did. after a beautiful sunset last night, it started raining about 2am, with a healthy dose of thunder and lightning. so, we got up early and started hiking at 7:30 with everything basically soaked. by 9:00 we were at the hostel, and dripping wet. oh yeah, we climbed over the ga highpoint in driving rain. no views, but we hear blood mountain is nice this time of year. the hiker hostel is strange...small, cramped, smelly people, soggy stuff. the people are awesome, though. completely geared to hikers. it will be a great place to relax and stay dry for the night. chris, now bootleg, pushed on after sleeping late. aaron has left to go back to the real world, but mr. fusion and ghost are here, along with about a dozen others. bunk up.
April 1, 2005 | Day 5 | Miles: 10.6 | Total Miles: 41.1 End: Low Gap Shelter, Tent Danielle: After the good ol southern cooking at an AYCE buffet (with all the fried food like we saw at the buffet, it's no wonder most Americans are obese. Yikes!) and a game of poker in the hostel, we weren't the first ones out, but we did manage to haul ourselves out in the rain at about 9:30am. The interesting thing about the trail down here is that it is so different from the trails we are used to up in NH. It's mostly level dirt (or mud, more appropriately today), with lots of switchbacks to get you up a hill,instead of rocks and straight ups and downs. Seems much more mellow in that regard. I guess we move right along too, as we only took 5 hours to get to the shelter. We've been feeling strong, which is great. Saw our first daffodils on the trail today, although they were smart enough to keep their petals in in the rain. Unlike us. Oh, as an aside , I now have a trailname -- Sparkplug. Mr. Fusion came up with it this morning, talking about how I just fired up the hills. So that's me. It's pretty funny to try to introduce yourself as something other than your own name... A very interesting trail phenomenon. However, Ryan says the name fits, as I'm small and firey like a sparkplug would be, so I guess it's fitting :-) Our "group" has broken up a bit... Chris (or now Bootleg) is a day ahead; Mr. Fusion a day behnd as he stayed at the hostel. So it's us and Ghost, along with 15 other people in the shelter or camping like us on the fringe tonight. Quite a crowd. We're feeling good and are having fun, or at least our kind of fun :-) Happy to be out here!
Ryan: rainy start, cloudy middle, rainy evening after we survived the shuttle ride from the hostel to blairsville, stomached the all-you-can-eat southern buffet at the cookie jar in blairsville, and cleaned up in poker, ...we had a great night's sleep in the comfort of the hostel bunk room. and, the delightful smell! we were in no rush to leave this morning as it was raining, so we eventually hit the trail at 9:30. fairly mellow hike today with only 1 real climb, and eventually the rain stopped. now, we're resting comfortably in our tent as the rain has started to fall again. the shelter is jammed, as there are 18 people here total. bootleg is a day ahead after the register told us he stayed here last night, and mr fusion decided to chill at the hostel and wait out the rain. i hope we see them again soon because people become family real quick out here. the big event of the day is that danielle has her trail name - sparkplug. i think it's perfect, in a lot of ways. she's been hiking really strong, and smile broadly as she waits for me at the top of every climb. so, sparkplug it is. my trail name is still in the making, but i have a few possibilities kicking around in my head. the trail name phenomenon is very odd, but it makes it kind of fun, so far we've met ghost, patch, sunsomething, inspector gadget, the good doctor, bootleg, doorman, swinging jane, jaybird, spry, bravo, slipnslide, gg, ironfoot, clearwater, york, ox, naked son, and, of course, mr fusion, and a whole bunch more i can't remember. the name doesn't make you a different person,but i think it reminds you that we're all out here doing something truly unique. it's unfortunate that we won't all make it to katahdin, because we all deserve to, just for braving the rain and dealing with blisters. right now, there are a lot of aspirations on the trail. whatever the reason for starting this crazy journey, we all deserve a happy ending. i know that wherever the trail ends for danielle and i, we will have shared a great deal that few peo! ple can ever realize or understand. why do you want to walk from ga to me? i still don't know, but we're loving every step of it. and, oh yeah, we smell really bad. today's song - wish you were here, pink floyd
March 28, 2005 | Day 1 | Miles: 0.2 | Total Miles 0.2 Start: Amicolola State Park via approach trail. End: Springer Mt. Shelter
Danielle: 40 degrees. Rainy. Windy. Cold. Well, we finally got to the trail. Cool. Of course the weather gods couldn't have made an exception to the "Danielle & Ryan hiking law of bad weather" and given us sunny skies. Instead it's rainy, foggy and cold. Oh well. We're out here on the white blazes and that's what counts! Mom and Dad saw us off at the arch at 9:25am, and we wandered our way up the trail. Then they couldn't take off without seeing us again so met up with us when the trail intersects the road at 1m. One of the guys we were with said we had a great support team! so thanks Mom & Dad! The approach trail wasn't as bad as some had said. It seemed moderate to us, and we arrived at the shelter at 1:45pm. Not too shabby! My pack weight was 30lbs.; Ryan's was 40. We could have continued on but decided not to push it. We'll probably being feeling the weight tomorow. Plus, the trail will still be here tommorrow and we have a ways to go. No sense hurting ourselves now... Anyway, happy to be here! Woo hoo! Maine here we come :-) "Anywhere is in walking distance, if you have the time."--Stephen Wright.
Ryan: rain, wind, mist, low 40's what a crappy day...weatherwise. not a nice day to be outside. but, we had a great hike up the approach trail. not as hard as everyone said and we made great time. now we're just hoping the weather clears. it's great to finally be on the trail...not just talking about it. today's song: we've only just begun, the carpenters.
March 29, 2005 | Day 2 | Miles: 13.4 | Total Miles 13.6 End: Justis Creek, Tent
Danielle: Sunny and warm. Yeah! Well, day 2 and we've already deviated from the schedule. I guess that was what it was for... We had planned to go to Hawk Mt. shelter and only do 7.4m but we got there by 12:30, so after a leisurely lunch with our "group" (can you be a group after only spending 1 night together?) of 4 other guys (Ghost, an older man from Gorham, NH who has already doen the trail and is just doing GA; Chris, a tall, skinny redhead who's lots of fun; Dennis "Mr Fusion" (we named him Monday nght after he was talking about Back to the Future. Plus he has a great white and black rain suit that is very Back to the future); Aaron, a friend of Dennis' who is out with him for a few days), we decided sure, we can go another 6m. The first 7.4 were nice and mellow. We went thru a beautiful stretch of rhodedendrum and big helmock trees. Gorgeous! But the next 6m were a bit tougher. A bit more ups and downs. We did see our first spring flowers--cool! Little violets and pretty white ones too that might have been rue anenome. Plus a bunch of turkey vultures floating on the air currents as we climbed what Ryan dubbed "Suckmyass" Mt. Finally ended in a great spot by a flowing stream, again with our "group." There are a ton of other tents around. Lots of people out attempting the trail. I'm tired, and think we'll sleep well tonight. But a good tired. All in all, a good day.
Ryan: sunny, low 60's - beau-t-full tough decision today-stay at hawk mountain shelter or push on. we awoke to a chilly but sunny morning, and had a nice mellow 7.5 to the shelter in under 4 hours. it's tough to call it a day at noon. so we pushed on. not sure if it was the best decision, but we'll find out. our morning was awesome. beautiful forest with huge rhodedendruns...no blooms yet, but we're not waiting around for them. lunch at hawk mt shelter with what has become our crew. chris, the tall lanky dude from ca and va. ghost, from nh, who has section hiked the entire trail, great stories. he's just out for a couple weeks. dennis, who we've dubbed mr. fusion, who has been slow but steady, great attitude. and, his friend aaron who will leave us at neels gap. great people, and it's been fun. the last 6 miles today were the hardest yet. highlighted by suck-my-ass (sassafras) mt. i'm definitely not in hiking shape yet, and my shoulders are really sore. hopefully, they'll get used to the pack. danielle, as always, has been in high spirits. i think she's feeling better then i am, but doesn't want to tell me. either way, we're having fun and getting into the routine. oh yeah, neal promised me rain on the first day and a gear calamity on the second. well, the fuel bottle leaked on the outside of my pack. i think the o-ring on the pump needs to be replaced. i blame neal.
March 30, 2005 | Day 3 | Miles: 13.7 | Total Miles 27.3 End: Slaughter Creek Campsite, Tent
Danielle: Sunny and warm again. Get out the sunscreen! As I write, we sit on the edge of the trail watching the sunset right from our tent. Gorgeous! And what a day. It started out with Ghost waking us up with "Get up you lazy, blue-blazing hikin' trash, or we won't even get in 5m today." So up we got, and out we went. Ryan and I were the last ones out, but we caught up a few hours later. Then to make the day wonderful, at Woody Gap there was trail magic! wow! Only three days out and trail magic already. Sharon and Frank had a spread out and lots of hikers gloriously enjoying the bounty. Diet coke and OJ, brownies and bananas. Yum! That fueled us up for sure. Then we kept on truckin' up and over and down and up. The sun was bright and with no leaves on the trees there were some great views of the hills and the green valleys. We decided to skip the shelter and go a half mile farther to this great campsite. I'm thoroughly enjoying lounging in the campchair/thermarest converter. A luxury item, definitely, but worth it so far! And the best thing is that tomorrow, we only have 3.5m into Neels Gap, where we plan to relax, shower, make phone calls and get a few god meals. Ahhhh. Sounds good. But no complaints for today. Life is good :-)
Ryan: sunny, warm, almost hot a kick ass day. another long day, and i'm looking forward to just 3.5 miles tomorrow. we've been making good miles, and overall the body feels great. shoulders feel better today. popped a good size blister on my little left toe. that should be good for tomorrow in walasi-yi outdoor center..to get clean, eat and relax. all you really need to know about today is trail magic rocks. fred and sharon from athens brought a ton of food to woody gap. i ate a ham sandwich. i don't even really like ham. we ate a ton, and it was sweet. hiked most of the day with chris, and we're sharing a sweet tentsite with him tonite. all is good. oh yeah, danielle kicked ass again today.
Moving is no fun. No fun at all. Especially when after you get the truck from Uhaul, you can't get it up the driveway. So how did we manage? You don't want to know... Many un-environmentally friendly pounds of salt later, plus a big bin of sand and some hacking away at the 2-inch thick ice later, Ryan did get the truck up to the top of the driveway, but no more steep driveways for me! I'm done! Enough. Give me a flat piece of land, I say.
So, after that unplanned hour and a half of driveway maintenance, we finally got started. It took us all day but we managed to empty out the house completely and fit it into a 10 x 20 storage unit. It was the bikes, wheel barrel and all the random crap in the basement that almost did us in! Yikes. It was like a big jigsaw puzzle trying to fit it all in. It wasn't pretty at the end, especially since it started to snow, but we made it work. The law of Danielle, Ryan and the weather of course made an appearance. We couldn't have had a nice, sunny, warm day for moving... that would have been too much to ask. Instead we had a cold day with a winter storm warning forecast for Friday afternoon all the way through Saturday, just the days we didn't want any snow so we could move, do final errands, get our prizes from our weekly Nordic race series at Great Glen Saturday night (its all about the raffle, folks! :-) We couldnt miss out on the final party!) and then drive down to Lynn. We pray for snow all season, and just when were leaving and don't want to deal with winter anymore, it dumps over 2 feet of snow in the valley in a week. It figures!
But we did manage to get in a fun hour and a half of skiing up at Great Glen on Saturday afternoon after we'd buttoned up the few things we needed to get done before we left North Conway and our rental house for a final time. It had been snowing all through the night and showed no signs of letting up. A great March storm that we had to take advantage of a little bit, at least ;-) The trails were empty and we had fun playing around in the powder. Then we enjoyed the potluck dinner and raffle (we made out well too, Ryan winning a gear bag and me a good Craft skiing top) and headed south through the snow. Goodbye winter! Our journey south has begun... Only two weeks until the start :-)
P.S. Ryan said we should just have this page say "Don't ask..." and leave it at that. Ahhh, moving...