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Take-aways from my first time on the Appalachian Approach Trail.

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 I did the Appalachian approach trail from Amicalola Falls to Springer this weekend. Awesome trip and learned, I think, some pretty cool stuff. Going to try to do a brain dump before I forget.

- You can't park at the top of Amicalola Falls overnight. I had planned to skip the 604 stairs to the top of the falls and just start on the trail. I found out when I registered this isn't an option. So, hitch a ride or do the stairs.
- The stairs suck, especially as a prelude to the trail.
- It gets dark faster than you expect it to on trail.
- It gets colder than the weatherman says it will on trail.
- Water is always downhill. Usually, WAY downhill.
- This is the "biggest" trail I've done so far. It's only about 10 +/- miles (I believe 8.3 from Amicalola to Springer plus the walk from the long term parking to the arch and then .9 from Springer to the parking lot), bit it's a completely different kind of trail than I'm used to (or I expected).
- I routinely do Pine Mountain and have gotten pretty comfortable doing both loops (about 4.9 miles with 1,390 feet of elevation gain) in about 3 hours with a light day pack.
- I've done the Gahuti trail a couple of times, an 8 mile loop with 1,551 feet of elevation gain that, like the approach trail, is rated as hard.
- Based on those, I figured the approach trail would be a challenge but just another trail. That wasn't quite the case, it was harder than I expected but an awesome hike. The tougher climbs were rewarded with more spectacular views than I've seen on any other hikes.
- I saw a LOT of people on trail, even past what I call the 1 mile barrier where most folks tend to fall off. I met folks all along the trail this time.
- On trail, they don't laugh if your pants fall off. Just in case that's why you were afraid to go, the trail is apparently a safe place for things like that. Don't ask me how I know. 🙂
- Everyone that I met on trail were pleasant. Sometimes just a passing 'hi, enjoy your hike" or sometimes actual conversation. Everyone was pleasant though.
- I met white people, black people, asian people, Indian people, Hispanic people, just about every demographic I could think of. No one seemed to care who I was voting for, what I thought about anything that's been hyper politicized, we were all just humans out enjoying God's country together. That was pretty awesome. I wish we could do that off trail.

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Re: Take-aways from my first time on the Appalachian Approach Trail.

@nathanuthat's pretty funny!

This time of year, biggest non weather issue you'll have is finding enough 'deadfall' for a small campfire, since areas like that are pretty much picked over by now.

But we need to set a good example and never cut living stuff for fires.  And I personally don't mind gently confronting folks taking an hatchet to a low branch (no death wish)

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes
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Re: Take-aways from my first time on the Appalachian Approach Trail.

@PhilreedshikesI'm the same way about cutting down trees, but I fear my motivation is more selfish (I'm too lazy to carry the hatchet onto the trail and, once I get to where I'm stopping, I've barely got the go-juice left to drag the wood to my campsite, much less cut it down). 

That said, there was a good bit of deadfall around.  The little pile that you can see to the left of my fire was from two small trees that had been knocked down from a falling larger tree.  Also, lots of small twigs and branches lying around for kindling.

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Re: Take-aways from my first time on the Appalachian Approach Trail.

@nathanu love, love, love this update - thank you so much for circling back and sharing!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: Take-aways from my first time on the Appalachian Approach Trail.

@nathanu 

Great write up! Thanks for sharing with us here in the community. I see you took your hammock out again, is that working pretty well for you? Any other things you've learned about hammock camping?

Thanks!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: Take-aways from my first time on the Appalachian Approach Trail.

@REI-JohnJ yes, took the hammock and used the underquilt for the first time.  Getting better at it and was surprised at how warm I stayed .  I literally had no idea how cold it was until I got out.  The underquilt is one that I got from Amazon for $60+/- that was rated for 40F and my bag is a Nemo Tempo 20 from REI. 

I used my closed cell foam pad as a Swiss Army Knife (sit pad, place to keep my shoes under the hammock and stand, etc).

The only thing I'm still struggling with is what to do with my pack.  I had some leftover Tyvek from a footprint project from a while ago.  I tried to make a little "house" for my pack but it was basically a fail.

I also swapped outy Gregory Paragon 58 pack for an Osprey Atmos 65AG.  I love the stow and go trekking pole holder and the huge hip belt pockets on the Osprey but I'm not sure which I like better overall.  Will probably take the Gregory on the next trip and just alternate a bit to try to figure it out.  Both are awesome, just not sure which is awesome-est.

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Re: Take-aways from my first time on the Appalachian Approach Trail.

I've been hammocking for several years. Would never go back to a tent. I can always stake out a shelter on the ground with my tarp if need be. I normally just put my pack under my hammock and if it's raining, I wrap it in the trash bag I carry with me. I froze my butt off in my hammock trying out cheap solutions for underquilts, and found UGQ. I haven't slept cold since. Interestingly enough... I took my grand daughter with me a couple of years ago on a 6100 mile motorcycle trip. Went through 19 states, and the only place we had to make a shelter on the ground was YELLOWSTONE!! LOL

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