7:25 on the trail
9:00 Whiteoak Stamp / break
9:20 leave ”
10:50 Deep Gap / break / water
11:20 leave ”
12:30 summit Standing Indian / lunch
1:30 leave ” via Lower Ridge Trail (no longer on the A)
3:30 at car, Standing Indian campground
13 miles total.
This 3-day AT hike is really a training/shakedown for a 7 day GA thru-hike of the BMT I’m considering for next mont. That will be my longest hike by far (this one was my longest thus far). I think I have devised a more systematic approach to knocking out 15 mile days, which will be my goal pace for the BMT hike. I didn’t quite put it to a full test today since the hike came up a few miles short in the end. I had been trying to do 2 hour legs, but that really wears me out and turns it in to drudgery. Or you end up cutting it short, looking for reasons to, etc. So I today thought I would try 90 minute legs – 3 miles between breaks. 3 before lunch, 2 after lunch for 15 miles. 15 minute breaks, add for water and calls of nature. For eventual longer days, shorter lunch breaks would be in order to squeeze in more 90 min chunks. It worked quite well today, and seems to be just about the right amount of time.
Today started off with a 30 minute stair climb out of Bly Gap to Sharp Top and Courthouse Bald. After that it was relatively flat until the descent in to Deep Gap. Then a 2 mile climb to Standing Indian. I started the day’s hike before the Gang left camp, passed Tex going up Sharp Top, and didn’t see any if them again until I was leaving the summit after my lunch break (1:30). The Kid was solo, blazing by at a high rate of speed. He said that Reed and Sierra had decided to call it at Deep Gap and get a shuttle to Franklin to nurse bothered knees, etc. Kid had unloaded all but 2 days of food and was trying for a 22 mile day to meet them Monday noon at Winding Stair. Thunder was way behind them and was getting off at Deep Gap as well. Half way down Lower Ridge (steep!) it dawned on me that I could conceivably give Thunder and possibly the others a ride if he was still there. I was able to get to Deep Gap by car at 4:00. Yet nobody was to be found. I stayed till 4:45, then headed back. My then-plan was to park at Winding Stair, and hike backwards to Glassmine gap, my northernmost hiked spot on the AT. In hindsight that would have been a 12 miles round trip – easily doable with the time I had (till Monday noon-ish) But my map did not cover that part, and I could not find another hiker, posted map or sign to confirm a distance. It was getting kind of late to improvise something without a solid plan, so I decided to call it a hike and head home. The mission, to complete the GA section, was accomplished.
I stopped in Helen for my traditional post-hike Combo Wurst Platter and Hefeweizen beer at the Troll Tavern.