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Thursday, March 31, 2016

MOUNTAIN CROSSINGS


Tuesday came and went in a flash. Tim, Alan and I all had errands to do in town and also had to take a trip down to Mountain Crossings the hiking outfitter's store. Who ever showed up without syrup, knowing Big Al's Waffles and Big Al's Banana Pancakes would be served, should be severely punished. Thankfully the camp store came through and had one small bottle left. 

THE HIKERS SHOE TREE

Once done in Blairsville getting syrup, dry wood, and a few other needed staples we headed to the outfitter's store. The stone building itself that houses Mountain Crossings is very historic. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 it originally served as a dinning hall and inn. 1937 was also the year the Appalachian Trail was completed. 



The building went through different hands through the years and was almost torn down. Locals petitioned to save it in the 70's. In 1983 Mountain Crossings which also has an A.T. gift store was born. The A.T. itself passes right through the building making the only covered portion of the trail's 2,200 miles. 


Some other interesting facts about this historic place are that it is located 31.7 miles from the start of the Appalachian Trail. So once the guys start hiking they should make it here in three to four days. The store serves over 2,500 hikers on their journey from Georgia to Maine. The staff evaluates over 500 packs to see what essentials are 'really' needed by the hikers. They ship home over 9,000 pounds of unnecessary gear from the store yearly. The combined experience of the team that works there exceeds 15,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail. 

HIKER PACK SHAKE DOWN SESSION
TIM and ALAN GETTING WEATHER REPORT (actually directions ... Shhhh)

Upon our return to base camp at Vogel State Park we took some time to get a good hike in for Jett. We chose the short two mile loop trail in the park that goes around Lake Trahlyta. There's also a short spur trail that leads to the Trahlyta Falls. This was my first time handling her on a trail with me using BOTH of my hiking poles. We both did great. Just like pros!  



As of now it looks like Tim and Alan's hiking departure for their expedition will be delayed until Friday. There is a large line of storms coming through on Thursday. Thursday will be spent doing the final shake down on their packs, weather observation checks and getting our driving route to the trail head confirmed. 



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING


And I (we) must go. 


Yesterday we departed the already hot and humid Florida for the mountains of north Georgia. Along for the ride is our friend Alan. Alan recently recently retired from the fire department where he had worked many years with Tim. Our final destination was Vogel State Park sitting at 2,459' elevation. This will become base camp for Jett and I over the next ten days. More later on the main purpose of this entire trip. 


This happens to be one of Georgia’s oldest and best state parks. It was just 43* outside this morning at sunrise. Vogel is located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest. If you remember a few years back Tim and I hiked this death defying Blood Mountain while staying at Top of Georgia another local campground nearby. Blood Mountain sits at a 4,459' elevation - it is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in the state of Georgia. 


Driving from the south, visitors pass through Neel Gap, a beautiful mountain pass near Brasstown Bald, it sits at 4,783', the highest point in Georgia. We will be visiting Mountain Crossing there, a hiking outfitter's store at Neel's Gap, later today to get last minute hiking supplies and weather reports from the outfitters there and those who have been on the trail for a few days. 


Tim and Alan will be taking off in a day or two, depending on weather, to hike for six to eight days on the Appalachian Trail. Jett and I will only hike a portion of the first day with them when I drop them off. We will stay behind at base camp the remainder of their hike as the support crew. If they need any additional supplies I can bring that to them by meeting them at a forestry cross road. Once they complete their hike I will pick them up at what ever the closest cross point is that I can get to. 

The Appalachian Trail or simply the A.T., is a marked hiking trail in the eastern  United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is approximately 2,200 miles long, the precise length changes over time as parts are modified or rerouted. The trail passes through a total of fourteen states. During the month of March hundreds of people begin their 'Thru Hike' of the entire trail hoping to complete their journey in five to six months. Unfortunately due to injury, weather and just mental exhaustion only a small percentage complete this rigorous journey. 


The guys hope to hike somewhere between 60 - 80 miles of this gorgeously famous trail on this expedition. I will post updates on their progress as their cell reception allows contact with me. This will be one amazing adventure for them.