Friday, February 12, 2016

Still in training

I haven't posted in awhile but it doesn't mean we haven't been busy hiking and preparing!

Kyle and I went to South Mountain State Park and tested the rain gear.  It was well worth the trip!  The waterfall was beautiful!!

I'm using the Blogger app for the first time So I'll post pictures as soon as I figure out how lol

Dad and I took Cindy to Eno for the first time.  It had been raining quite a bit the days leading up to our hike.  Needless to say, Cindy learned that using a trekking pole on a wet rock doesn't work very well!  She ended up on her butt in the creek....but she kept her phone dry!

Dad and I have been hiking at Umstead with our packs.  I'm feeling comfortable with the miles we plan to do at the start of our hike next month.  We'll definitely get some more hiking in before we leave!

Last night Kyle, dad and I slept outside to test our cold weather gear.  Kyle had insomnia but stayed warm.  Dad is ordering a new sleeping pad that should keep him warmer.  I slept like a baby except that 2:30 am trip to the bathroom.  It got down to about 25° last night and I really dreaded having to get out of my warm hammock!  We'll probably try this again soon after dad gets his new pad. 

If anyone is interested in following our journey can do so at www.trail where the Dude will be journaling or where I will be blogging.  The journal has been started and the blog will be started soon.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Z's first backpacking trip

On the road again, I can't wait to get on the road again.....

I'm not really sure how I ended up in the backseat!  We left the house at 5 am to head to Standing Indian.  After hours of driving I guess the boys actually thought I would nap in the back while The Dude drove us through the mountains.  Ha!

We arrived Monday afternoon with the goal of just going to the first shelter.  We took the Long Branch Trail to the AT and headed South to the Long Branch Shelter.  This shelter is a 2 story shelter built in 2012.  It was very nice!

We put up our hammocks, hung the bear bags and proceeded to be lazy the rest of the afternoon.  A couple of thru hikers stopped by for dinner and then were on their way.  After a long day of getting up early and driving, we all headed to our hammocks early.

We found out the hard way that our hammock tarps are not made for the sky falling out!  It poured, thundered and lots of lightening!  We all ended up in the shelter

The next morning we packed up our wet gear and headed out to Albert Mountain with the intent on hiking 8.7 miles to Carter Gap Shelter.  The climb up Albert Mountain was a little steep but luckily a short trip up.  The views to the valley were intermittent at best and the fire tower was locked.  It was an enjoyable experience anyway.  We met a few section hikers, including 2 sisters from the Midwest. We enjoyed lunch and the boys hung their hammocks from the tower to enjoy a mid-afternoon nap.  We were warned by a few Northbounders that the trail going down the mountain was rocky and slippery from the rain the night before.  I headed down first while the boys enjoyed their nap.  Rocky isn't really how I would describe the descent.  It was large, flat, slippery boulders that required me to sit on my butt and scoot down!  I became concerned about the boys descending the mountain (I know, it's just the mom in me!) and contemplated going to warn them of the downhill slope.  Then I turned, looked up at what I would have to climb back up and decided that they were old enough to figure it out!  Zach later said this was one of his favorite parts of the hike.

I met a nice couple at the road crossing at the bottom of the mountain.  They were staying at the campground and were out for a drive.  We chatted for awhile and then the wife offered me a shot of Apple Brandy.  I nicely declined as I couldn't imagine trying to hike after taking a shot. 

I met up with the boys at a water point later and then we hiked on to the shelter.  To say I was aggravated and disappointed at our time spent at this shelter would be an understatement.  When we arrived, there were a group of teenage boy scouts already at the shelter.  The troop leader told us the shelter was full!  I went into the shelter to find they had emptied their packs everywhere!  The table, benches and sleeping platform had gear and food everywhere.  I understand having your gear spread out, but usually people are kind enough to make room so you can at least make a meal.  A few of the boys moved their sleeping pads off the platform and out to their tents and hammocks so the kids and I laid out our sleeping bags and hung our bear bags.  We waited awhile to see what the scouts would do about all their food and garbage they had hanging in the shelter.  Finally, we asked if they were going to hang their bear bags away from the shelter.  They proceeded to tell us that bears were not prevalent in NC!  

We awoke the next morning and gave the scouts time to leave the shelter as we really didn't want to hike anywhere near them.  We had already had an issue with them the first day with them taking a break on the trail and leaving their gear on the trail and not leaving room to pass so we really did not want a third disappointing encounter with them.

Today's plan was to head to the third and final shelter.  Today, we would cross over Standing Indian Mountain.  It is a 1000' foot ascent with 500' feet the first mile, a water point and then the final 500' over the next two miles.  We had lunch at the base of the mountain and then began climbing.  I told the boys I would meet them at the water point a mile up.  They are much stronger hikers uphill than I am.  I headed up and after quite some time was feeling frustrated that I had neither seen a water point or the boys.  I thought for sure I had hiked a mile by now!  I usually only hike about 1 mph uphill and it had been about 75 minutes at this point.  I finally passed a NOBO (north bounder) and asked where the next water point was.  He informed me that he thought there was supposed to be one at the summit but 2 guys had informed him that there was no water there.  I was confused and asked him how far I was from the summit and he advised 15 minutes!  Holy taquito I just hiked 3 miles uphill in an hour and a half!  I got to the top and was told that the kids were at the summit (apparently there were some girls that had just gone up before them)  After they came down they took me up to show me a really great place with a view.

The boys learned how to make pizza for lunch!  Although Zach found a new favorite, Lemon Pepper tuna.

 Holy crap they are on a ledge thousands of feet up!
And why are they on a ledge?  Because they have service and can Snapchat and text!  Step away mom, just step away.

Zach texted his dad a picture with a note about his view.  Dad proceeded to text Zach a picture back of his cubicle LOL

After heading down the mountain Zach threw out a proposal to finish the hike today with 12.6 miles.  I told him it was up to his brother, The Dude, who proceeded to say that if we finished today he would buy Wendy's on the way home!  Who were Zach and I to say no to that!  We continued on to Kimsey Creek Trail to finish out our 24 mile loop.

This was a gorgeous trail that followed the creek for much of the hike.  At one point we came to what appeared to be an old forest road.  The sign said the campground was 2 miles away.  This trail is only 4 miles and at this point I thought we had hiked at least 3.  I think we may have made a wrong turn somewhere because we ended up in the campground and when we were later looking on how to return to the Backcountry Information Book we found another sign for Kimsey Creek Trail that was nowhere near where we came out in the campground.  I think we ended up backpacking 14 miles that day, but The Dude kept his promise and we enjoyed Wendy's on the way home!

Next up, Eno River with Dad, Loni and Cindy!  Stay tuned for more....

Buttercup and The Dude

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Finally mom's trip to Asheville!

Mom was excited to finally be going to Asheville!  We had a really nice time enjoying our morning coffee sitting on the deck, visiting local restaurants and shops and taking a drive on the Blue Ridge

The cabin we stayed in was very nice.  It was secluded yet in town.  The property was a combination of nicely landscaped and backwoods primitive.  The staff was extremely friendly and helpful and the cabin itself was well kept. I would definitely recommend Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds.

We arrived early afternoon and decided to relax on the deck for a bit before heading for dinner.  We had read a lot about Sunny Point Cafe.  Dad and I had the Shrimp & Grits and all I can say is WOW!  I don't even like grits, or at least I didn't before having them here!  They were awesome!!  Mom had the Fried Green Tomatoes and Grilled Caesar Salad.  I didn't try the salad but the tomatoes were great!  We finished out the evening by heading over to The Chocolate Fetish.  I didn't realize chocolate could literally melt in your mouth like that.  It was sooo good.  Luckily, we bought enough to enjoy for the few days we were there.  My sister, Mary, wasn't happy that none of the chocolate made it back to Raleigh (hmmm....road trip, Mary?)

The next day mom nicely told dad and I to go take a hike.  Dad and I did about 4-5 miles on the MST.  The trail ran right along the property.  The climb up the dirt road was the hardest part of the hike!  It was a beautiful and easy hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We did lose the trail once but weren't concerned since it was time to turn around anyway.  The trail actually crosses the street down the road but there are no signs letting you know you are supposed to cross the street.  Maybe a BRP rule?  After our hike we went to Chesnut for lunch.  The atmosphere was fun and the staff were so friendly and helpful.  Even the manager stopped by the table to chat and see how our lunch was.  The food was fabulous.  After lunch we visited the Folk Art Center and took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We finished off the afternoon with a stop at Grove Arcade and a coffee house where we got dinner to go.  

It was an enjoyable and very relaxing few days.  I'm still working on mom to agree to move to Asheville after Kyle and I hike the AT next year :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

It's been a while since I wrote on here.   My computer crashed and, really, why buy a new one when I could buy gear!

We've been on quite a few hikes since last time.  Of course we've been to the Eno River, done more of the Mountain to Sea Trail (MST) and Umstead. 

Late winter we thought we would do an "easy" backpacking trip at Croatan National Forest.   We set out for a 20 mile adventure on the Neusiok Trail.   They call it a trail, but quite a bit ended up being a swamp!

We made the 21 miles (extra mile because I got us off the trail...oops) in 2 days but it was definitely harder than we expected!

The beginning was absolutely beautiful!!!!  It was a little slow going with all the sand but we figured it would change over to dirt soon enough. 

And it did....and then mud....and boardwalks....and eventually....

The mud turned into water.  We tried to dodge it as long as we could. That worked for several miles until we could dodge no more.  We finally had to bite the bullet and just go right thru it.  Had we known what was ahead we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and trouble and not tried so hard to avoid it.  

All in all it was still an awesome time! Thank goodness it was winter and the snakes weren't out yet!

Our next adventure took us back to Max Patch and Hot Springs.  This time we brought Cindy and Kyle.  Neither have backpacked before and both were up for the challenge. 

We got a late start due to travel and getting a shuttle.   We started at Max Patch Rd and headed up to the bald.  Kyle was already enjoying trail magic at the top consisting of pizza, soda and beer.  What a nice surprise!   

We kept it a short day since we didn't start until 3 pm and I had just come off a 24 hour shift that morning.   We stayed at Roaring Fork Shelter and met so many nice people!  Kyle and I had fun setting up hammocks while dad and Cindy tented below.   Kyle and I were doing a shakedown trip to check out our equipment.   We both froze that night (at least our feet did) and decided underquilts were definitely in our future! 

The next day was gorgeous!   We took our time getting out of camp knowing that it would be another short mile day.   We used different water filtration systems and learned more about how our equipment worked on the trail.  We ended our day a little short of where we had planned but after a 750' ascent up Walnut Mountain we decided we were ok with not going the last 1.4 miles and 400'.  Kyle said he even had to use his walking stick up that 750'.  That made us ol' folks feel a little better about it.  Kyle met a couple of thru hikers, Snoopy and Casper.   They invited him to hike the last 13 miles into Hot Springs the next day.  Since this trip was all about learning,  I told him to go on and have fun.  Our plan next year is to "hike together but separate" so this gave him a better understanding of what I meant. 

The next morning we headed out to tackle 1000' foot climb up Bluff Mountain.   We broke it down into sections and this made it much easier to climb.  There were so many beautiful flowers in bloom in this section.   The smell while walking made it all worth it.  We found a site to camp at this night so it was our first night not at a shelter and having to hang our bear bag without a cable.  I did a little better sleeping in my hammock that night and actually slept great!

The next day we set out for Hot Springs.   After about 2 miles I took Cindys half of the tent and traded dad my hammock for his half of the tent.   I told them I would head to town ahead of them and get a campsite and set up our tents.   I was scheduled to meet Kyle in town and didn't want to be late.   I had such a great time hiking in.  I wanted to see how my pace was and also how I enjoyed hiking alone.  I wouldn't want to be alone every day for 6 months but I can definitely see myself enjoying my alone time.  The descent into Hot Springs was rough but I had no knee pain so I was happy.   I was carrying about 5 extra pounds and was having difficulty keeping the tent strapped on the pack.  When I came out of the woods into the parking lot, I threw my pack into the bushes and walked to town to get Cindys van and go back for my pack.  I got us a campsite at Hot Springs Resort,  set up the tents, got a shower, found Kyle and headed back to the parking lot to pick up dad and Cindy.   Lucky for Cindy that we had arranged that because near the end of her hike she rolled her ankle and it looked sprained.   

Kyle made it to Hot Springs the day before us.  He said he had a great time.   He stayed at a hostel that night and met a lot of people.   The next day he headed north on the trail, set up his hammock and enjoyed a nap while waiting for us to get to town.  

All in all it was a fantastic trip.  Kyle and I also have decided on our trail names.   The Dude and Buttercup

Next....we are off to Asheville to thank mom for putting up with our adventures

Happy trails

Monday, June 2, 2014

Best hiking to date!!

This was definitely the best and most fun hiking I have ever done!  Warning, there will probably be a lot of pictures :)

My dad, oldest son, Kyle and I went camping at Hot Springs for 5 days/4 nights.  We had a blast!  Kyle has only been hiking a couple of times so I wasn't sure if he would have as much fun as my dad and me, but he is a hiking machine and ready to do a thru hike.  

We arrived at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa on Wednesday just in time for the rain.  The campground was nice, but nowhere on their website did it mention the train tracks.  We were probably camped about 150 feet from them.  It reminded me of one of our stations at work.  Luckily the train didn't come thru as often as it does at the station.  It did come thru nightly, usually several times.   

My worry with this trip was that I would hurt myself and be out of work for awhile.  Little did I know that I would injure myself at the campground!  The first day there I was walking down to the river in my flip flops, twisted my ankle and nearly busted a toe.  It was bruised and sore but nothing a little tape couldn't fix.  I wasn't about to let it ruin our adventure.  

French Broad River next to the campground

The weather was supposed to be questionable on our first day hiking so we decided to head out to Max Patch and hike part of the AT.  The views from the Bald were amazing!!  And Kyle had a couple of girls stalk him but he was pretty oblivious to that fact.

We didn't make it to the shelter before the rain started, but that was half the fun for the first day!  We enjoyed lunch and good conversation (and yay it had a privy) while we waited for the rain to pass.  The rhododendron tunnels were so cool!  It was like everything I've read in the trail journals and books.  We would have kept heading North but I think my mom would have tracked us down and had a few choice words for us :)

I don't know how he stayed so dry!

After an awesome first day hiking, we headed back to the campground to build a fire and cook some sausages over the open flame.  One of my favorite things about camping :)  We also taught Kyle how to play Backgammon and he taught us the strategy to Chinese Checkers.  

Our second day hiking we headed back out to the AT to find the fire tower on Rich Mountain.  I have never climbed such a steep trail!  We told Kyle to HYOH and we would meet him at the tower.  Being young, it didn't take him nearly as long as it took us.  I was a bit of a nervous mom telling him to head out, but I figured he would either be at the tower when we arrived or somewhere in TN, but eventually would backtrack to get more food from me.  

Kyle was at the top of the tower waiting on us when we got there.  We met several thru hikers and section hikers along the way and had lunch with 3 of them.  That was a lot of fun!  I also got to do my first trail magic YAY 

The 360° view from the tower was awesome!  I'm really glad we chose this hike for day 2 since the weather was perfect!

On the way back down we found a stealth campsite and had a snack and some fun taking selfies

Day 3 we chose a nice trail along the Laurel River.  It started out as a nice flat trail.  Then we came to the storm damage.   This was actually the easiest part to go thru.  We went under, over and around many trees.

We found a nice spot to have a snack and cool off.  Then the rock skipping contest began!  I lost very early. Apparently they are supposed to skip at least once and not just KerPlunk into the water!  We declared Kyle the rock skipping champion.  I was just having fun playing in the water and soaking my feet.

There were so many beautiful flowers along the trail.  I didn't even get pictures of all of the varieties.


I thought we were going to lose Kyle here.  This is called the "Stackhouse"  It's a popular place to jump off the rocks into the river.  The paramedic in me was cringing watching this because it doesn't go straight down. You have to jump far enough out to miss the actual stack of rock.

Another view of the river.  It was sooo beautiful!  I love walking near water.  The sounds could lull me to sleep in a minute!

We eventually came to the end of the trail where it is supposed to loop around from the railroad tracks at the French Broad River.  At this point none of us wanted to wander around in the heat to look for where the trail goes back into the woods.  It was probably about an 1/8 of a mile that we missed and nobody was disappointed!  

A few more selfies on the way back (that was fun teaching dad how to do a selfie!  I won't show the ones he took with my phone hehe)

We did decide that we should rent this cute cabin for mom next she'll let us have a next time :D

Planning a trip to Fontana Dam next....

Happy Trails!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Been too long!

I can't believe how long it's been since I posted on my blog!  It's been a busy Spring, but dad and I are still hiking.  Just a run down of a few of our trips this Spring....

We attempted (notice I say attempted) backpacking for the first time.  We rented our gear from REI, packed and unpacked and packed again, removed a few items (but obviously not enough) and headed to the Eno for what was to be 3 days and 2 nights.

We hiked the Mountain to Sea trail starting at West Point on the Eno.  Enjoyed a nice lunch break by the river and continued on towards our destination.  We hiked about 6-7 miles that day.  We knew this trip was going to be a learning experience and it was.  Dad learned that 37 lbs is too much to carry and that he needs to drink more drinks with electrolytes.  After the 6+ miles and many cramps in the legs, we decided to call my sister and have her and her hubby come pick us up.

I'm not sure if the people driving by were honking to say "hi" or if they thought we were homeless.  Either way we had fun (I may have had a bit more fun than dad).

After many emails and conspiring conversations, my family and I decided to buy dad some light gear so we can get out there again.  Being the impatient people we are, we couldn't wait until Father's Day to give him his presents :)

Between the 13 oz sleeping bag and the less than 2 lb pack, I think we just knocked about 6-8 lbs off!  I think with some tweaking he should be able to get down to less than 25 lbs.  I can't wait until we try again!!

After that big adventure we decided to find our pride again and head out on an 11+ mile hike on another section of the Mountain to Sea trail at Falls Lake.  For this adventure we brought my oldest son, Kyle.

My lesson for this day was that a 19 year old eats way more food than my dad and I!  I will definitely bring more food next time!

This tree was huge!!  Along with seeing the enormous tree, we saw a couple of old barns, some old farm equipment and what my dad thinks was maybe the foundation for a barn (??  I'm a city girl, don't laugh) that was used to milk the cows.  I don't know what you would call that.

The day was perfect and the scenery was beautiful!  I felt like I was in the enchanted forest.  I've never seen such a beautiful place.  I do wish we had more views like the marina below.  But still, the forest was amazing!

After that fun adventure, we had another one this weekend.  In honor of Memorial Day, my dad, sister, Mary and her hubby Tim, and I did a charity hike for the Fisher House Foundation.  For this, we headed to Umstead State Park.  It was another beautiful day and the company was great!

Thanks to American Backcountry for the T-shirt....will be wearing it on my next adventure this week.  Stay tuned for details of all our fun from that!

Peace, love and happy trails.....