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Old 07-19-2014, 09:49 AM   #51
trob888
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

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Brilliant stuff ITT. Keep following your bliss.
Thanks RGIII

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Originally Posted by sinepar View Post
book ideas:

Bradbury, Vonnegut, and Roald Dahl have great collections of short stories.

If you're into comedy/sci-fi Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are both amazing.

Bill Bryson is a hilarious but informative nonfiction writer. A Walk in the Woods is particularly relevant to your travels but all of his works are good.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard if you're in the mood to reflect on nature.
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Not sci-fi, but great book if you have yet to read it is:

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

One of my all-time favorites, and it sounds like the kind of book you might enjoy. Loving the blog.
Thanks for the recommendations guys, i'll check these out
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:55 AM   #52
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Forgot a song

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Old 07-26-2014, 10:03 AM   #53
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Northeast Review and Update

The trip to the Northeast was a bit of a failure. Let me explain. I went into the trip with the intention of just doing a Northeast highlight reel, expecting to never return. The goal of 2014 is to see as much of the east as possible, before heading west indefinitely. But now, after the trip, I want to go back at some point. I want to hike more of the Adirondack High Peaks, more of the Whites, and more of Maine. Who knows when Iíll be able to do it again, but it hasnít been erased from the to-do list.

Iím happy with every hike I did, including all the little day hikes and the somewhat boring Cranberry Lake. Also, I enjoyed just about every town and city I stopped in. I was very impressed with how all the towns up there found a way to keep their charm. Some of the highlights were Lake Placid (NY), Saranac Lake (NY), Littleton (NH), Lincoln (NH), and Ellsworth (ME). Burlington, VT and Portland, ME both seemed to be pretty cool cities too. I definitely lucked out. Itís pretty rare to not have at least one place where you have a terrible experience.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it up there. I had no idea what to expect. It was nothing but mountains, lakes, small towns, two-lane roads, and no traffic. And rednecks. Rednecks, rednecks everywhere. Most of the time, I could look around and have no idea I was north of Virginia. The only way I could tell I was in a new and different land was that ****ing idiotic Maine/Northeast accent. Holy ****. It was comical at first, but I was going insane by the end of the trip. I think there was a period of four days where I wore headphones all day long. Itís as if people there choose words that sound the most retahhded and try to out-accent each other. It took three days for the voice in my head to speak normally again.

Hereís a map of the trip overall. I covered over twice as much ground as I usually would like to do in this kind of time period, but as I said before, this was just supposed to be a one-time highlight reel. From here on out, I donít want to cover more than 1000 miles in a month. For one, itís too expensive, and itís also just way too fast. Iíd like to spend a little more time in one area. And Iíd definitely like to spend more time on the trail. All these one and two night trips are too short. I need to throw in a long one every now and then.



I keep looking at the calendar and thinking I came back to DC too soon. I still have a week here, then a week at the beach before I can leave again. Iíd like to make about $700 before I leave, so thatís keeping me busy and distracted. I picked up some books as well. Sinepar, I used some of your suggestions. I also remembered you and Marc talking about The Giver so I borrowed an electronic version of that too. CvD, Iím sixth on the list to borrow the Ernest Shackleton book.



My ex girlfriend threw a small wrench in the works. She texted me out of nowhere, asking about hiking Zion. Then she asked me to take her hiking. Iíve seen her maybe three times in the last year. We talk less than once a month, and I hadnít told her anything about my plans to hit the road indefinitely. She somehow always knows when Iím about to get away for good. I didnít even tell her I was back in DC. Anyways, Iím going to take her to the Dolly Sods in West Virginia. It would have been my first stop before heading south anyways, but now I have to come back to DC again. Iíll probably just head southwest from DC through Virginia instead of seeing a little more of WV. Thatís all assuming I get away from her. It would take a lot for her to reel me back in but I definitely still have the hook in my mouth.

My plan is to hike as much as I can in southwest VA, eastern Kentucky, and all the areas along the Tennessee/Carolina border before it gets too cold. I have a couple places in Georgia Iíd like to see as well. Iím not entirely sure what Iíll do this winter. I know I want to be out west around mid March. Iíll need to be in a decent place weather-wise before then. I might head to Tampa/Orlando and work for a little, then follow the coast to Houston/Austin/San Antonio and work some more for the rest of winter. Thatís my best guess at what will happen. Iím very eager to get out west but itís still a long ways away.

There probably wonít be many updates here in the next couple weeks, I apologize in advance.

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Old 08-17-2014, 08:35 PM   #54
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Restless and Ready to Go

Iím finally hitting the road again sometime this week. Iíve been feeling pretty pampered lately after spending a week at the beach, then another week housesitting for my parents while they were away in Pittsburgh. Pampered and restless. I feel like Iíve been here way too long. One good thing is all this down time has given me a chance to plan out some good hikes I would have never found otherwise.

I didnít end up going to the Dolly Sods with my ex girlfriend. She took trip to the emergency room a couple days before we were supposed to go. Sheís fine now, but the hiking trip didnít make it. I felt pretty bad. She seemed really excited to go. Unfortunately, she starts grad school this week and wonít have time for a multi-day trip anytime soon. Weíre going to try to do a long day-hike in Shenandoah on Tuesday. If that falls through then sheís out of luck because Iím not sticking around here any longer.

Iíve gotten a lot of reading done, Chritopher Mooreís A Dirty Job, Hermann Hesseís Narcissus and Goldmund, Douglas Adamsí The Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy, Lois Lowryís The Giver, and Iím about two thirds of the way through Haruki Murakamiís The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Iíve enjoyed all of them, especially Narcissus and Goldmund and The Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy. Iím pretty surprised I hadnít read either of them until now. Narcissus and Goldmund is probably the last well-known Hesse work I hadnít read, and it became my overwhelming favorite. It had been a while since I felt so connected to a book. I plan on reading more of the Hitchhiker series at some point. It seems to have the good combination of science fiction and existentialism that I really like.

Money is going to be an issue this next leg of the trip. I didnít even come close to the $700 goal I had set. Money making opportunities just arenít around as much in August like they are in the beginning of the summer. Iíve got about $300 . That should last me a month, but itís going to be a challenge, one that Iím excited to take on. I downloaded a handful of crowdsourcing apps to make a little money along the way, but Iím going to need to get to work once this trip ends. Iíll be almost exclusively in the mountains along the Tennessee/Carolina border, as well as north Georgia, so Iíll probably head straight for Atlanta when Iím done hiking and work till I need a change of scenery again.

This will be the bulk of the next trip. There will hopefully be nine hikes in this area alone, with another one or two thrown in. I originally wanted to go into Kentucky a little but it doesnít seem feasible at the moment.



Sorry this has been so boring lately. More hiking is coming very soon. Also, Iíve decided I want to put a little more effort into trip reports here. I tend to just type something up real quick, throw in pictures and links, and post it. Iíve been leaving a lot out. Trip reports are not something I really enjoy doing, but if Iím going to do them I should do a better job of it. Iím going to try to put in a little more of myself in it as well, not just details of the hikes. The next post will have some mountains in it, I promise.
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:56 PM   #55
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Looks like a great time. Thanks for the updates!
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Old 08-23-2014, 10:51 AM   #56
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Old Rag in the Clouds

As I mentioned earlier, I didnít end up going to the Dolly Sods with my ex girlfriend. We opted to do a day hike in the Shenandoah area. I originally put together a 19-mile hike that included Old Rag, Stony Man, Little Stony Man, and White Oak Canyon, but she ended up throwing in a time constraint at the last minute so Old Rag was all we could do. The 19-mile hike looks like a good one and Iíll save it for another time.

There was a 50% chance of rain that day, but it wasnít supposed to start until around noon. We pulled into the Old Rag parking area around 8am and it immediately started to drizzle. It ended up drizzling the whole time until we got to the summit, but it wasnít bad. The weather was kind of a blessing in disguise. For one, the summit in the clouds was pretty cool. It felt like a floating mountain in the sky, and had a Mount Olympus kind of look to it. More importantly, the weather kept the crowds away. Old Rag is a very popular hike, especially in the summer, and it can turn into a total cluster**** with fat tourists trying to make their way through narrow rock tunnels and climbing over small ledges. We were lucky enough to see only two other people on the trail.

The route is very easy to follow. It starts with a steady climb through the woods before you get to a section of the climb thatís a lot of rock scrambling and maneuvering. The rocky part of the climb is what draws people to the hike. Itís pretty fun and somewhat challenging. The summit has excellent views on a clear day. Once youíre over the summit thereís a little downhill on a smooth trail, then you hook up with a fire road all the way back to the parking area. Itís about a nine mile loop in total.










It was amusing to take a rookie hiker along. There were all these things I used to think when I first started hiking that I had forgotten about until she mentioned them. I remember thinking tree roots kept looking like snakes. I remember interpreting subtle forest sounds as voices. I remember taking a lot of wrong turns. I hadnít realized how much Iíve improved at route finding. Nowadays I have a pretty good instinct about where a trail should go and if I make a wrong turn I sense it very quickly. I hardly ever have to consult maps anymore, and I have a good understanding of time, pace, and direction when Iím hiking. Of course now that I said that I'm going to get completely lost on my next hike.

Overall it was a good day. We had a lot of fun despite the weather. This was probably the most time Iíd spent with her in years, and we got along really well. She absolutely crushed me about five years ago. We were together about a year and a half, and when she dumped me it was like a Sean Kingston song. She was way too beautiful, and I was suicidal when she said it was over. Maybe not suicidal, but I was pretty devastated. I hit rock bottom and stayed there for a while. I slowly busted my bankroll. It was my first foray into poverty, and it was the first lesson I had in teaching me not to fear not having money. I think, in most cases, the acquisition of money comes from fear and not want, but Iím not going to get into that now.

I eventually pulled myself together, ended up finding a stake, grinding some tuition money, and going back to school. Iíve had a few <2 month relationships since then, but mostly remained single. Iím pretty happy being single. When I'm in a nice tourist area and see a couple together itís easy to feel a little down and wish I had someone like that. But then I go to the grocery store later and see a girl bitching non-stop to her boyfriend pushing a shopping cart and I thank God that I'm single. Thereís always a tradeoff, and for me, right now, the cons far outweigh the pros. Plus now I'm poor as **** so options are limited . Iím on the road again. Expect more frequent updates and more mountains for the next month or so.


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Old 08-23-2014, 04:08 PM   #57
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Forgot to mention I did something stupid the other day. I probably won't be reading much of anything else for a while. Here goes attempt #1...

Spoiler:
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:46 PM   #58
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Dolly Sods Circumnavigation

The Dolly Sods is an interesting area that Iíve been curious about for a while now. Itís a high-altitude plateau, the highest of its kind east of the Mississippi River. It has weather resembling areas much farther north and Iíve heard some people compare it to parts of Alaska. The Dolly Sods is not only unique in geography and climate, it is also unique in history. The Wikipedia page goes into more detail, and is an interesting read. The gist of it is the Dolly Sods were once covered by an ancient red spruce and eastern hemlock forest, including what was considered the greatest stand of red spruce in the world. Naturally, the white man came and cut it all down. Frequent fires devastated the area and the Sods came to resemble the meadows they are today. In the 1940s the Army used the area as a practice artillery and mortar range. The area has been extensively surveyed since then, but some artillery and mortar shells have still been found there in recent years. Needless to say, itís important to stay on the trails.

I started out in the northeast corner of the wilderness area, at the Bear Rocks Trailhead. It sits up on a ridge and offers good views of the open fields and bogs of the northern part of the Dolly Sods. Forest Road 75 follows this ridge south and despite it being a dirt road, gets a fair bit of traffic from people taking in the views. Earlier in the summer many people will make the drive up to pick wild blueberries.

The Bear Rocks Trail followed the northern boundary of the wilderness area where it merged with the Raven Ridge Trail and continued westbound. The northern area is home to most of the wide open fields and meadows that the Sods are known for. Once the Raven Ridge Trail nears the northwest border of the wilderness area it meets with the Rocky Ridge Trail, which takes you south. The Rocky Ridge Trail offers more rocky meadows and you get a handful of good viewpoints looking west toward Canaan Valley. As I was walking this area a pair of fighter jets flew by pretty low. Later another flew by and I saw two more the next day. Apparently the Navy does a lot of training flights in the area. It was completely unexpected, but pretty cool to see.







The ridgeline and meadows end when you meet up with the Big Stonecoal Trail that takes you farther south into the more forested part of the Dolly Sods. There are some good places to camp along the trail, including what is apparently the remains of an old logging camp, but I planned on climbing Lionís Head and finding a spot with a better view. Lionís Head is a rock outcropping overlooking the southern end of the wilderness area. When you see it itís easy to see where it gets its name. I made the climb in the late afternoon and found a campsite near a rocky viewpoint in a cleared out area of Rhododendron.




Infinite Jest weighs a million pounds so it would be silly to take it hiking with me. Plus Iím only sixty pages in and struggling. I brought A Canticle For Leibowitz with me and read about fifty pages while I cooked dinner and waited for sunset. I know nothing about it going in, but Iím liking the way the story is setting up so far. After the sun set I stayed out on the rocks to wait for the stars to come out. There hadnít been a cloud in the sky all day and I knew I would get a great opportunity to see the nightís sky. Itís been a while since of made an effort to see the stars. Most of the time Iím in my tent right after sunset or itís a cloudy night and there isnít much to see. This night was pretty perfect and I couldnít tear myself away. I laid down on the rocks and looked up at the sky for an hour and a half or so before retiring to my tent.

The next day I came down from Lionís Head and spent most of the morning along Red Creek. There are little waterfalls and swimming holes every so often. The most popular spot is whatís known as the Forks. I stopped there for a little and swam. There are a handful of great camping spots there, but they are very popular. As I was leaving the area around 11am, a group of eight or so people came and already started setting up camp. Get there early if you want to snag one of the good sites.




There was a little bit of uphill coming away from Red Creek toward Blackbird Knob. Soon you get into the wide open meadows again as you come to the Dobbin Grade. The Dobbin Grade was very muddy. I sank up to my knees at parts, which can be a little unnerving. Eventually the trail gained a little altitude and mud was no longer an issue. I washed up in a creek just before turning into the Bear Rocks Trail for a quick jaunt back to my car.





This was a short two-day hike. I considered adding on fifteen miles or so by connecting a section of the area to the south of the Dolly Sods known as Roaring Plains, but I opted not to. This was my first hike since being off the trail for a month, a lot of the time spent indoors, and I felt a little out of my element. I wasnít quite back in the swing of things. The first trip back is always tough mentally, but once I push through it all will be well again.

I jumped onto I-81 south, stopped in Harrisonburg for a workout and shower, and drove all the way down to Blacksburg last night following the Blue Ridge Mountains the entire way. Iíve made that drive a hundred times, but it never gets old. Blacksburg is home to Virginia Tech, my alma mater, which is where I am now. I havenít really been on campus in years but it feels like I never left. My next stop is in the Mt. Rogers and Grayson Highlands area. Iíll probably stay here a little while longer and drive a little farther south tonight.
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Old 08-29-2014, 10:50 AM   #59
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Just wanted to say I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog and pictures, thanks so much for sharing.
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Old 08-29-2014, 12:21 PM   #60
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

yeah, looks like we have another smashing blog on our hands
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Old 08-29-2014, 07:38 PM   #61
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Ponies and Bulls in the Roan Highlands

The nostalgia for my college days didnít last long. I kept seeing all these kids rushing around and couldn't stop thinking, ďwhat the **** am I doing here?Ē Itís funny, when I visit a random college campus I feel like I fit right in, but when I visit one I spent five years at, I feel like I no longer belong. I havenít gone back to visit Tech much, just for a football game every now and then. While I was sitting at the library I realized the last time I had been to Blacksburg was almost two years ago for a friendís funeral. It got me feeling pretty depressed, and I needed to get out of there immediately.

I drove down to Marion, VA, planning to stay the night there. However, my existential crisis of sorts had followed me there. I was miserable. It was sunny and hot. My head was killing me. I had nothing to do and my mind was racing. Marion was where I had stopped almost three years ago after my first solo hiking trip. It was the first time I felt like I really needed to get away. I filled up my backpack with all kinds of crap, got a ride to Daleville, VA with a friend, and hiked just under 200 miles on the Appalachian Trail before I decided to call it quits. I smiled a little when I recognized the place I caught a midnight Greyhound bus back home, but it wasnít enough to cure me. It was about 5pm, the Grayson Highlands were about an hour away. I had time to get there and do some evening hiking.

I packed in a hurry and hit the trail right at 6pm. The Grayson Highlands are famous for their wild ponies, and I saw a group of them just minutes after I started climbing the Rhododendron Trail. A couple of the little guys came right up to me and said hello. I eventually ran into the Appalachian Trail and made my way towards the Thomas Knob Shelter where I would need to stop to get water. Along the way there will be a fork where the Wilburn Ridge Trail splits off from the AT. This is the more scenic trail and it meets back up with the AT later.




Along the way I kept hearing what I thought were cows. Soon I learned I wasnít going crazy and there were a group of cows grazing this high mountain meadow. A couple of them had some big horns, one of which showed a lot of interest in me. It stared me down while I passed and started following me up the trail. I wasnít sure what his intentions were, but I wasnít going to stick around and find out. Eventually he and his friends decided to let me go on my way.



The scenery at this point was nothing short of amazing, and it was the perfect time of day to be there. The sun was low in the sky, everything felt quiet and I could tell that I had these high plains all to myself. I actually didnít see a single person until the next afternoon. It was a pretty magical evening. I made camp along the open ridge just before Thomas Knob Shelter. The sun was setting just as I was getting set up. I took in the hazy orange sky, with a sliver of the moon overhead, and the rolling mountains below. This was exactly what I needed. I felt home again.






I woke up to a misty morning. The clouds were all around me as I made my way back down the Appalachian Trail to meet up with the Pine Mountain Trail. The AT makes a kind of horseshoe through the Grayson Highlands area and it can be turned into a loop with the help of the Pine Mountain Trail. Morale was still high from the excellent evening the day before, and I coasted along the misty ridge trail, saying hello to a couple ponies along the way.

The trail meets back up with AT in a couple miles and there are some more miles over some great mountain balds. At one point I had to walk through a gate and as soon as the gate clicked shut about six wild ponies came charging down the hill at me. I donít know exactly what the sound of that gate signifies to them, but I unfortunately wasnít what they were looking for. They took one short look at me and went back to grazing. The clouds were still hanging low. It gave everything a dreamlike feeling. The trees seemed more like shadows of trees than actual trees. By the time the clouds really started to disperse I was almost back to my car.






This trip was shorter than the one I originally planned in this area, but I could not have asked for a more perfect couple days. It was a last-minute, emergency escape into the mountains and I think it cured me for a long time to come. Iím currently in Boone, NC, planning to head out to the Roan Highlands early tomorrow morning. From there Iíll hit the Linville Gorge for three or four days. I doubt Iíll be able to update in between those two hikes. After the Linville Gorge Iím sure Iíll need a rest day or two and slow things down a bit.


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Old 08-29-2014, 07:47 PM   #62
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Quote:
Originally Posted by scottp4braves View Post
Just wanted to say I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog and pictures, thanks so much for sharing.
Thanks scott, I was starting to think no one was reading this anymore

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yeah, looks like we have another smashing blog on our hands
ty. i do love u, too
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Old 08-29-2014, 11:27 PM   #63
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Still reading. Great blog. Keep it up!

#deeznuts
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Old 08-30-2014, 08:49 PM   #64
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Definitely still reading. Getting inspired to take a long hiking/camping trip next time I have an extended break from work.
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Old 08-31-2014, 02:35 AM   #65
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Subscribed. Takes me back to a year of hitchhiking and hiking around the country when I got out of the army many years ago (when hitchhiking was still viable).

Hope everything goes smoothly - very nice pics and good writing.
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Old 08-31-2014, 03:05 PM   #66
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

^^x3 thanks for all the support. Back from the Roan Highlands but I might not get around to doing a TR today. Going to the Linville Gorge tomorrow for 3 or 4 days. Will update about both when I get back
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Old 08-31-2014, 08:37 PM   #67
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Roan Highlands

I didnít know much about the Roan Highlands. All I had really heard was that they are awesome and the best stretch is the Appalachian Trail from Carverís Gap to US19E. I had no map and no intention of catching a shuttle or hitchhiking back to my car, so this had to be an out-and-back hike sticking to the AT. It was a Saturday so I had to get to the trailhead fairly early. I got there just after 8am and took the very last spot in the main parking area.

At Carverís Gap you immediately start climbing Round Bald. It doesnít take long to hit the top and see great views to the left and right. A quick hike down and short climb up lead you to Jane Bald, where the views get even better. I was immediately thrilled I decided to do this hike, but like I said, I didnít know much about what was ahead.




Coming down Jane Bald a very tempting trail splits off to the right to Grassy Ridge Bald and the Appalachian Trail heads down to the left into some not so appealing terrain. As tempting as it was I decided the safe play was to stay on the AT. The trail really tested my faith here. It went back into the woods and stayed in the woods for a long time. Even worse, I was descending, meaning I would eventually have to climb back up this endless stretch. Finally, after what I think was an hour and a half of descent, I reached flat spot with a couple signposts. One of the signs pointed to an old barn that was converted to a hiker shelter. I went down and checked it out. It was definitely one of the coolest shelters Iíd seen. The whole top level was is a loft for sleeping in, there was a walkway through the middle level, and at the lowest level there were two platforms with a great view of the valley and surrounding mountains. I filed this away as a potential place to stay the night and hopped back on the trail.




The endless descent was over, and the endless ascent began. The start of the climb was in a small bald section, steep and hot from the sun beating down on it. The views improve, giving you a great shot of the converted barn way down below. The climb continued through the woods for a short bit, but it was mostly a slow bald climb. At some point you get to see the trail go up Little Hump Mountain, and the climb becomes very exciting. I donít think I had ever enjoyed a climb so much. I keep turning around and walking backwards just to take in all the views I could. At the top I was kind of in disbelief. It was like someone chopped off the top of a high mountain and left a field in its place, with views of lower mountains in all directions. Little did I know, the best was yet to come.








Just as I made my way across Little Hump I stopped in my tracks. I got my first view of what lay ahead, a giant bald behemoth known as Hump Mountain a.k.a. Big Hump. This thing looked like it was twice as big as what I had just climbed. The descent down Little Hump winds through some woods for a little ways, but eventually it spits you out right at the bottom of the giant bald. Welp, time to climb.







I stopped once or twice to take in the views, but mostly focused on climbing. As I got closer to the top I started to enjoy myself more. There are various wildflowers and tall grasses along each side of the trail the whole way up. Just as I reached the top I had my arms out like Maximus walking through his field in Gladiator. Big Hump puts Little Hump to shame. If I was in disbelief on Little Hump I was completely dumbfounded on Big Hump. This was by far the coolest place I had been to on the entire east coast. I climbed down the other side and walked along Gregory Ridge until I came to what looked like a long descent. At that point I decided to turn back, go up and down the Humps again, and find a place to stay the night.






It felt like rain was going to come at some point in the night so I opted to go back to the converted barn shelter. Apparently thatís the place to be on a Saturday night in the Roan Highlands. About twenty people and four dogs shared the barn that night. However, most of them opted to set up tents in the field nearby. They assured me the weatherman said there was a 0% chance of rain that night but my gut said otherwise. I took one of the platforms that overlooked the valley below and was protected from the elements. It was a wise choice.

At some point in the night we got dumped on, but I stayed nice and dry. I woke up and watched some clouds slowly creep up the valley. I packed up and made the long climb out. When I got back to Jane Bald and Round Bald I could look down and see clouds with green peaks poking through. It looked an avalanche came and filled the valleys with snow, sparing the mountain tops. This was probably my favorite hike since starting this thread.




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Old 08-31-2014, 09:17 PM   #68
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Sticky Fingers is my favorite Stones album - when it came out I was in an army hospital, kind of a drag, but the nurses/orderlies would come by and turn us on to a little hashish (doubt that happens these days) and we'd crank up the music.

One thing that is great these days for your kind of trip is the access to music we now all have.
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Old 09-03-2014, 01:19 PM   #69
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Subscribed. Takes me back to a year of hitchhiking and hiking around the country when I got out of the army many years ago (when hitchhiking was still viable).

Hope everything goes smoothly - very nice pics and good writing.
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Sticky Fingers is my favorite Stones album - when it came out I was in an army hospital, kind of a drag, but the nurses/orderlies would come by and turn us on to a little hashish (doubt that happens these days) and we'd crank up the music.

One thing that is great these days for your kind of trip is the access to music we now all have.
Do you have a blog on here jrr? Sounds like you have some pretty interesting stories to tell.
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Old 09-03-2014, 01:27 PM   #70
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Ponies and Bulls in the Roan Highlands
Just realized I had a typo here. This should be Grayson Highlands not Roan. If a mod reads this please change it. Much obliged
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Old 09-03-2014, 05:47 PM   #71
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

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Do you have a blog on here jrr? Sounds like you have some pretty interesting stories to tell.
I've thought about it but don't have time to keep it up right now. Plus everyone has interesting stories from the past, usually more interesting to the teller than the receiver IME. It's different with threads like this with some real life current action to report on (whether poker related or not).
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:02 PM   #72
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

Linville Gorge: “The Grand Canyon of North Carolina”

The Linville Gorge is infamous for its “trail” system. There are some tourist friendly trails here and there, but most of the backcountry trails are overgrown, unmarked, unmaintained, and poorly made in the first place. Luckily, I stumbled on the forums at linvillegorge.net and found some good maps and tips. I started at the Pine Gap trailhead. The trail was wet from the rain we got the night before. Every surface was mossy, slick, and terribly angled. It seemed like every rock and root was inviting me to plant a poorly placed foot and take a fall. I fell three times and took two wrong turns in the first hour. It was going to be a long three days.

About a half hour into the hike I made it down to the Linville River. I had already fallen twice at this point and had gotten a good taste of the horrendous trail conditions. Just thirty minutes into the hike and I was thinking I might have bit off more than I could chew. I decided I needed to stop and think a while. And swim. I noticed this awesome looking slide in the river right where I stopped. It was a good fifty feet long and moved pretty quickly. It took me some time to work up the courage to do it, but I eventually did and giggled like a kid the whole way down. My spirits were renewed after a few slides and I was back on the trail.




The trail followed the river for the most part. Every now and then it would climb a little and get some decent views, but it always made its way back down. I passed by some great campsites and places to swim. I had originally planned to hike up to the western rim of the gorge for some of the first day, but I just wasn’t feeling up for it. It looked like a storm would be coming in at some point in the afternoon so I stayed down by the river and set up camp early. It ended up just thundering for a while, with only a few drops of rain, so I spent the evening swimming and reading by the river.







The next day I immediately started climbing the east rim of the gorge via the Cambric Trail. This trail was steep and straight, making It very difficult to climb. Not even fifteen minutes into the climb I was drenched in sweat. It flattened out a little as I got to the Mountains to Sea Trail but I still had some more climbing to do along the rim. At this point I was pouring sweat and really struggling to get my heart rate under control. It took me a little while to realize what was happening to me and, as I continued to climb towards the Chimneys, the voice in my head kept saying, “this is like Kings Canyon.” I was pretty confused and feeling a little loopy. The scenery didn’t strike me as all that similar to Kings Canyon, but I couldn’t shake the thought. Finally, I realized what it was trying to tell me. Kings Canyon was the last place I suffered heat exhaustion over two years ago. Now I was going through it again.

I found a shady spot to rest a while, cool down, and take in some views. The damage was done. The rest of the day was going to be slow moving, and I would need to get back down to the river as soon as possible. I was sweating out all the water I was taking in. Luckily for me the best way to the river followed the east rim for a while and I got some great views. There were a ton of rocks to climb on along the rim. On a typical day I would say to hell with the trail and climb up and over the rocks as far as I could, but today was not that day, as tempting as it was. It’s important to challenge yourself every now and then, but it’s even more important to know when not to challenge yourself.










Eventually I met up with the easy Spence Ridge Trail and headed down to perhaps the best spot along the river. I swam a little, rested, and downed as much water as I could. I loved spending time along the river. I wished I had brought more food and could spend more time there. Heat exhaustion will leave you feeling a little weak and out of it for a couple days. I would have to take it easy for a while, despite wanting to explore more of the area. The next day I found my way back to that slide from the first day before making the climb up out of the gorge.
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Old 09-07-2014, 09:19 PM   #73
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

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Linville Gorge: ďThe Grand Canyon of North CarolinaĒ

The Linville Gorge is infamous for its ďtrailĒ system. There are some tourist friendly trails here and there, but most of the backcountry trails are overgrown, unmarked, unmaintained, and poorly made in the first place. Luckily, I stumbled on the forums at linvillegorge.net and found some good maps and tips. I started at the Pine Gap trailhead. The trail was wet from the rain we got the night before. Every surface was mossy, slick, and terribly angled. It seemed like every rock and root was inviting me to plant a poorly placed foot and take a fall. I fell three times and took two wrong turns in the first hour. It was going to be a long three days.

About a half hour into the hike I made it down to the Linville River. I had already fallen twice at this point and had gotten a good taste of the horrendous trail conditions. Just thirty minutes into the hike and I was thinking I might have bit off more than I could chew. I decided I needed to stop and think a while. And swim. I noticed this awesome looking slide in the river right where I stopped. It was a good fifty feet long and moved pretty quickly. It took me some time to work up the courage to do it, but I eventually did and giggled like a kid the whole way down. My spirits were renewed after a few slides and I was back on the trail.




The trail followed the river for the most part. Every now and then it would climb a little and get some decent views, but it always made its way back down. I passed by some great campsites and places to swim. I had originally planned to hike up to the western rim of the gorge for some of the first day, but I just wasnít feeling up for it. It looked like a storm would be coming in at some point in the afternoon so I stayed down by the river and set up camp early. It ended up just thundering for a while, with only a few drops of rain, so I spent the evening swimming and reading by the river.







The next day I immediately started climbing the east rim of the gorge via the Cambric Trail. This trail was steep and straight, making It very difficult to climb. Not even fifteen minutes into the climb I was drenched in sweat. It flattened out a little as I got to the Mountains to Sea Trail but I still had some more climbing to do along the rim. At this point I was pouring sweat and really struggling to get my heart rate under control. It took me a little while to realize what was happening to me and, as I continued to climb towards the Chimneys, the voice in my head kept saying, ďthis is like Kings Canyon.Ē I was pretty confused and feeling a little loopy. The scenery didnít strike me as all that similar to Kings Canyon, but I couldnít shake the thought. Finally, I realized what it was trying to tell me. Kings Canyon was the last place I suffered heat exhaustion over two years ago. Now I was going through it again.

I found a shady spot to rest a while, cool down, and take in some views. The damage was done. The rest of the day was going to be slow moving, and I would need to get back down to the river as soon as possible. I was sweating out all the water I was taking in. Luckily for me the best way to the river followed the east rim for a while and I got some great views. There were a ton of rocks to climb on along the rim. On a typical day I would say to hell with the trail and climb up and over the rocks as far as I could, but today was not that day, as tempting as it was. Itís important to challenge yourself every now and then, but itís even more important to know when not to challenge yourself.










Eventually I met up with the easy Spence Ridge Trail and headed down to perhaps the best spot along the river. I swam a little, rested, and downed as much water as I could. I loved spending time along the river. I wished I had brought more food and could spend more time there. Heat exhaustion will leave you feeling a little weak and out of it for a couple days. I would have to take it easy for a while, despite wanting to explore more of the area. The next day I found my way back to that slide from the first day before making the climb up out of the gorge.
Good job in recognizing the symptoms of heat exhaustion. It can kill for sure.

Out of curiosity are you thinking of doing any trips out here in the west? That's been most of my hiking experience - climbed many of the big peaks in Colorado one year and there are some really nice places to experience in the Wyoming Rockies. Red Rock country in Utah is great and here in Arizona we have some real interesting desert trails (a bit rockier than North Carolina based on your pics) that include everything from low desert with sagauro forests to the "sky islands" with pine/aspen forests (and the wild life of course varies along with the changes in eco-environment).

But again, nice writing and pics - you have the makings of a book that will sell at least some copies.
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Old 09-08-2014, 05:02 AM   #74
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

That trail and hike look like a lot of fun. Glad you made it out ok. I can totally picture you giggling down the slide.

The river and mossy rocks remind me of some hikes I did in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee a few years ago. Love that look and environment. Keep up the good adventures coasterbro.
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:59 AM   #75
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Re: On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

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Good job in recognizing the symptoms of heat exhaustion. It can kill for sure.

Out of curiosity are you thinking of doing any trips out here in the west? That's been most of my hiking experience - climbed many of the big peaks in Colorado one year and there are some really nice places to experience in the Wyoming Rockies. Red Rock country in Utah is great and here in Arizona we have some real interesting desert trails (a bit rockier than North Carolina based on your pics) that include everything from low desert with sagauro forests to the "sky islands" with pine/aspen forests (and the wild life of course varies along with the changes in eco-environment).

But again, nice writing and pics - you have the makings of a book that will sell at least some copies.
The plan is to be out west this spring. I want to hit southern Utah in the spring, Big Sur and some coastal hikes early summer, the Sierras when the snow melts, Colorado late summer, and New Mexico or AZ early fall. I did some of those areas last summer and i did a lot of the Sierras on the John Muir Trail two summers ago. I wrote up a quick summary of what I did last summer in another thread:

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As promisedÖ

I took the more northern route west across the country this time. The first stop was Cleveland where I played some 2/5 PLO, which was my first live PLO experience. The game seemed decent but I have nothing to compare it to. I went on a little day hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The scenery and morning rain gave it kind of an eerie feeling.





Next stop was Chicago. I didnít play much poker. I spent most of the time being a tourist and hanging out with a couple friends from college. Went to that shiny thing everyone takes pictures of, got some real Chicago pizza and hot dogs, bought a t-shirt, etc.



Most of the drive from Chicago to Denver looks like this:



Then when you get to Utah the drive is awesome because most of it looks like this:



The only poker stop I had after Chicago was Council Bluffs, Iowa where I played tired and gave away two buy ins. I stopped for a day in Utah to play tourist at Bryce Canyon NP:




Then it was on to Vegas. I treated Vegas as my home base most of the summer. Iíd spend a week playing poker then go on backpacking trips and head back to Vegas. Rinse, repeat.

The first trip took me to the Wasatch Front near Salt Lake City. I climbed a peak called White Baldy. It was a bit of an improvised climb. I hiked a trail to the base of a ridge, then climbed up to the ridge and followed the ridgeline until I got to the peak. It was possibly the most dangerous thing I have ever done. I had two bad falls, one of which left me with scars that are still visible on my leg, but I somehow managed to walk away from both.





I continued north into Wyoming where I spent three days in the Wind River Range. The scenery there was excellent, even better than a lot of what I saw two summers ago on the John Muir Trail. Itís definitely a place I want to return to someday.




After that it was back to Vegas. I made a couple trips to Zion NP, which quickly became a competitor to Yosemite for my favorite national park. The first trip I took was to the much less visited Kolob Canyon area of the park. The place was like a red rock Yosemite. One of the days I hiked into a cool little slot canyon to a small waterfall called Bear Trap Falls.





A couple weeks later I took another trip to the more touristy area of Zion. The place was packed. I hiked up to Observation Point and wanted to hike Angelís Landing that day but weather was an issue. Iíll most likely be back in Vegas this summer and will spend more time in Zion. Iím going to apply for a permit to do the Narrows sometime in June.



From Zion I drove through northern Arizona and southern Utah. I never expected to like the desert so much but it definitely found a place in my heart. Iíd like to spend a lot more time in Utah/Arizona. There is way too much to see.



Eventually I made my way back east. I really slacked on pictures this trip. I'll probably be back at it again this summer and might actually start making some trip reports.
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That trail and hike look like a lot of fun. Glad you made it out ok. I can totally picture you giggling down the slide.

The river and mossy rocks remind me of some hikes I did in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee a few years ago. Love that look and environment. Keep up the good adventures coasterbro.
Yea there's definitely something cool about that scenery that I can't put my finger on. This trip I enjoyed it more than the great views along the rim, and I'm usually a sucker for good views.
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