Thursday, September 28, 2017

Springer to Hawk Mountain and Back

Gina has been wanting to try backpacking for years now.  She's been getting gear together and we have been hiking several times.  The weather has been getting cooler and there's been plenty of rain-some early falls are so dry it's iffy getting water.  I have been wanting to get back out for a couple weeks.  Everything came together for us to do a 2-3 night trip.

We talked over several options and decided ultimately that Springer was our best option.  We decided to park at the trailhead and walk the mile south to the terminus and camp at Springer Mountain campground the first night.  That way the car would be close by and we could bring different gear to swap out if needed.  Gina hadn't backpacked before, so we had a Hennessy system and my little Six Moons Scout.  She stuck with the tent, I kept the other Hennessy but traded out pads for the second night.  I have not found the perfect hammock/insulation combo yet.  I'm hesitant to shell out for an underquilt because I don't hammock camp enough to justify the expense. 

Anyway, we enjoyed the hike, ran into 2 couples visiting from Japan at the summit and took photos for them.  The best English speaker of the group asked where we had hiked from, I told him and said it was about a mile to the parking area.  He poked around on his phone map app and said, "Spring-a pa-king lot .7 mile from here.  Do not tell lies."  hahaha!  I tried to explain that the trail was not a straight line and that it really WAS closer to a mile.  He must have been a teacher because he gave me That Look.  I'm not trying to be offensive with my attempt to capture his accent, it was part of what made it so funny.  He was so earnest that I stop my horrible lies.  He would be blown away with certain state park trail mileage info.  I'm looking at you, South Cumberland.  

Hiding in my hammock from the gnats!

We headed back up to the summit for the sunset.

It was dark as we hiked back to camp!

The next day we walked back to the car, left a few things and swapped out a couple items.  Then we headed north on the AT!

We stopped at Three Forks for a while.  Took off our packs, waded in the water, refilled water bottles.

A little matcha with lunch-a

I loved the way the mica flakes settled along my toes

This cracked us up.  No camping 10 feet up between this sign and this bark!

Long Creek Falls is an easy mile from Three Forks, we also stopped here a while!

That's recycling!

An REI commercial walked by!

We hiked to Hawk Mountain and decided to turn around since we weren't going any further this trip and had loads of daylight left.  We walked the 3 or so miles back to Long Falls and camped at the site there.

I washed up in the creek it was nice to be clean!  But of course, it made me cold that close to dark.  I burrowed in my quilt and warmed up nicely, but had swapped my way too big pad for one that was barely too small.  So something on me was touching the side of the hammock all night and stayed chilled.  That was pretty frustrating.  I haven't found a good solution yet.

With only 4.5 miles to get back to the parking area, we had an easier last day (11 miles the day before) but we still had to climb BACK up Springer!

My hammock view, I left the rain fly off both nights, it was very nice!

Very rare hair shot!  See the blue twisted through?  I love it. 

Irma was here!

The trail right around Three Forks is flat and WIDE.  I was calling it the Appalachian Boulevard! 

Morning sun!

Loads of water before Hawk Mountain.  There's a 5 mile stretch after with none.

The climb begins.  UGH.  hahaha

The hike out was hard, I never did get that feeling that I could go all day.  I did get the feeling that if I had to walk up one more hill, I was gonna die.
We got to the car a little after 11 and decided to head home.  We were both done.  I think next time, maybe not 1200 feet of elevation change in one day...

Saw this on the way out.