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[Fwd: Re: [Fwd: [at-l] Help me plan my 4th]]

OB asked me to forward this to the list.  It was in response to my
"planning the 4th" RFC.  (Request For Comments)  ;)   

Anyone else have anything to add about the hiking between Springer and



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Fwd: [at-l] Help me plan my 4th]
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2001 15:00:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: Orange Bug <orangebug74@yahoo.com>
To: tjfort@netdoor.com

I think that you need to plan to hike the trail and not the schedule. I
had that lesson handed to me (along with my head) on a platter last
March in the Smokies. For me, I only plan 8-10 mile days, rejoice if
there is more in my legs, and avoid cursing my years, my beer and the

I'd probably leave a car at the lot near Blood Mt, just 1/4 mile north
of Neel's Gap. I'm not sure which way I'd start - Duncan Ridge first or
south on the AT. I'd probably go with the AT to break in my gear and my
legs before heading into Terra Incognito, but I'd kind of like the Long
Falls as a welcome back to civilization (relatively) and the walk north
on the AT for adjustment and reentry time from the walk. 

I believe this is a 60-65 mile loop. These are long days, and this is a
ridge hike. The water situation is looking okay, but you don't have the
hand-holding guidebooks to reassure you that you won't die of thirst.
You also have a trail that is less populated, but has at least 2 road
crossings (near Suches and between Suches and Goose Creek). You might
do water caches at the road crossings. I like to leave a large
container at Cooper Gap just after the long dry Sassafras Mt and long
before you get to Justus Creek.

If you can do 10 mile days in the Smokies with those climbs, I'd expect
that 10-12 is quite obtainable. We have easily 14 hours of hiking light
now, and I think you will have a waxing first quarter to full moon. I'd
call a ranger station (I have those numbers on my Chattahootchee Nat.
Forest map) and I'd expect they would have direct information. I would
count on 5 days for this hike - 3 along Duncan Ridge and BMT and 2
along the AT. If you plan a 5 night trip (6 days of hiking), you will
have lots of opportunity for photos and smelling any wildflowers. Watch
out for bees.

Another place to park would be in the Lake Winfield Scott National
Park. It has regular traffic and probably a bit more individual
attention. There are trails straight up to Slaughter Gap where Duncan
Ridge starts. In any case I wouldn't leave a car or anything in the car
that had significant emotional or monetary value. I also leave glove
compartments and such wide open to show there ain't nothing in there to
go making a mess of a window.

The reason this area kicks butt has a lot to do with the hiker as well
as the terrain. There are lots of ups and downs, water is erratically
found, hikers carry stuff no one needs, the views are nice but not
heart stopping and few really know what they are getting into. Spring
weather in NOGA is terrible as we have essentially a huge wall facing
south, catching every drop of Gulf moisture and mixing it with any cold
front scooting around the Appalachian ridges. This makes for frozen
precipitation, winds, storms and slippery footing when Atlanta is in
shirt sleeves. In summer you have a bit more risk for pop-up storms and
lightning, but this isn't New Mexico with a real monsoon and killer
lightning every blasted day from June to September.

And by the way, Gary and some of our other listers really suck with the
way they can rip off 20 mile days, especially after driving 500 miles
or recovering from a GI bug. The ones who really get my goat are the
ones who can do Springer to Fontana in 10-12 days. I think us Boomers
need to start cultivating a culture of slacking and enjoying - not just
slackpacking or seeking record time and miles.



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