Tag Archives: Appalachian Trail

Lower Mount Cammerer Trail

Date: May 6, 2016

Miles: 7.4 miles       Elevation Gain: 394 ft.         Elev./Mi: 53        Grade: 1%

Difficulty: Class 1    Hiking Time: 2:10      Pace: 3.4 mph       Avg. Temp.: 59

Lower Mount Cammerer Trail Lower Mount Cammerer Trail Elevation

Lower Mount Cammerer Trail, along with Low Gap Trail II, connects the Appalachian Trail to Cosby Campground and the two trails make up part of a very popular loop hike that includes the fire tower atop Mount Cammerrer.  The trail is fairly rich in features that includes Campsite #35, Sutton Ridge Overlook and a number of stream crossings.  The main trailhead is at Cosby Campground at an intersection with Low Gap Traill II near campsite B93.  Although the guidebooks portray the trail from this starting point, this hike was completed starting from the Appalachian Trail.

Lower Mount Cammmerer Trail leaves the AT at 3,566 feet and begins a fairly level stretch over a mile and a half.  The path meanders in and out of ridges and ravines, often accompanied by stream crossings.  The first mile crosses streams four times.  At 1.5 miles, there is a side trail to a very small cemetery where the markers are mostly tiny rock slabs, only one of which bears any wording of its inhabitant; a two year old child who died in 1912.  Not far past this landmark,

Cascade at Riding Fork

Cascade at Riding Fork

the trail starts its steady decent for the next four miles.  The trail is well graded single track through mixed hardwoods and the stream crossings continue.  At 3.1 miles, the trail crosses Rowdy Creek, requiring a fording of the creek.  The feet get wet again at 3.8 miles crossing Robinson Creek.  Gilliland Fork Campsite #35 appears at 4.1 miles.  The site consists of a number of satellite sites near the creek at 4.2 miles.  The tents sites are more level near the creek crossing.  At 5.3 miles the trail enters a pine forest.  At 5.5 miles, there is another stream crossing that can be negotiated by hopping the rocks, followed by a small but pretty cascade and stream crossing Riding Fork at 5.8 miles.

 

View from Sutton Overlook

View from Sutton Overlook

The side trail to Sutton Overlook arrives at 6.0 miles.  This trail is only 200 yards or so but it is fairly steep.  The effort is worth it as the path ends on a ridge point with outstanding views to the north and west, including Maddron Bald.  There is a footlog across Toms Creek at 6.4 miles and a wet crossing through one of its branches at 6.5 miles.  At 6.7 miles, the trail becomes a gravel road at a turnaround and continues a gentle descent to the trailhead.  Low Gap Trail intersects at 7.3 miles and there is a footlog over Cosby Creek just beyond.  AT IMG_27887.4 miles, the trailhead at Cosby Campground appears, ending an enjoyable hike on a well graded pathway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data Book:

Lower Mount Cammerer Data Book

HikerHead 2  Shalom…

 

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Low Gap Trail II

Date:    May 6, 2016

Miles:  2.9 miles           Elevation Gain:  1,916 ft.↑   Elev./Mi:  660    Grade:     13%          

Difficulty:  Class 5      Hiking Time: 1:03       Pace:  2.7  mph       Avg. Temp.:   57

Low Gap Trail II Low Gap Trail II Elevation

Older guidebooks speak of Low Gap Trail as one trail, with a Tennessee side and a North Carolina side.  Low Gap Trail II provides access to the Appalachian Trail from Cosby Campground.  For this reason, it is a fairly popular trail as it makes for a good loop hike to Mt. Cammerer.  At the AT, it connects with Low Gap I, which terminates at Walnut Bottom and CS# 37, and it is one of the more idyllic campsites in the park.  Low Gap II is also one of the more steeper hikes in the park at 13% grade.  The trailhead is at the hiker parking lot just before the check-in shack for the campground.  There are a number of trails around Cosby Campground with its several side trails but also, Cosby is the general trailhead for Lower Cammerer and Snake Den Ridge Trails as well. With reasonable attentiveness, the hiker should be able to stay on their intended path.

Cosby Creek on Low Gap Trail II

Cosby Creek on Low Gap Trail II

The first 0.4 mile or so is consumed with negotiating the maze of side trails.  At 0.2  and 0.3 miles there are creek crossings on footlogs.  At 0.4 miles is the intersection with Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail.  This intersection is quite confusing because Low Gap II seems to exit to the right.  Take care to follow the signs here.  The confusion continues at 0.9 miles as the Cosby Horse trail enters from the right.  Some guidebooks indicate this is an alternate Low Gap Trail and signs may indicate that.  At this point, the climbing begins in earnest and continues the rest of the way up.  At 1.2 miles, there is a series of switchbacks in rapid succession before the trail straightens out and continues its steady ascent.  The trail crosses Cosby Creek at its headwaters at 2.5 miles and finally,a t 2.9 miles, this step climb is over at the intersection with the Appalachian Trail.  Low Gap Trail I heads down the ridge 2.5 miles to Walnut Bottom.  To the right on the AT is Cosby Knob Shelter at 0.8 miles and to the left is the Mt. Cammerer Trail at 2.1 miles.

Data Book:

Low Gap II Data Book

HikerHead 2  Strider out…

LeConte24 Part 4: Epilogue

“Anish Breaks the Appalachian Trail Unsupported Speed Record!” was the headline on the blog post: http://appalachiantrials.com/anish-breaks-the-appalachian-trail-unsupported-speed-record/

Anish is a woman some call “The Ghost” because she frequently hikes at night. Here’s the thing: Anish hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 54 days. She hiked the PCT in 60 days. That means she averaged 42 miles a day and 44 miles a day respectively. And, she did both “unsupported” meaning there were no hot meals waiting for her in camp and probably zero “zero days”. Not only does she “frequently” hike at night, she most likely hikes every night.

View from Alum Cave Trail

View from Alum Cave Trail

Here is the text Brian sent me: “This lady just did our hike… 54 days in a row!”.

This is the backdrop as I am writing this summary of our own epic hike.  Three days ago, a young woman completed 54 days of hiking that we barely survived through one day.

All this said, I can say most humbly:

WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!

I set this blog up to keep track of individual trails I have hiked and will hike on this 900 Miler.  A hike like LeConte24 gets a little tricky to document because there are approach trails that don’t count as official miles and there are several miles that overlap like repeating a section of Trillium Gap to reach Brushy Mtn..  In short, Brian and I hiked a total 46.4 miles in 19 hours and 32 minutes, averaging 2.4 miles per hour.  Here are the data:

  • Total Miles:                             46.4 miles
  • Official miles:                         39.4 miles
    1. Rainbow Falls    6.6
    2. Trillium Gap       8.9
    3. Bull Head           5.9
    4. Alum Cave         5.0
    5. AT                        2.7  (Newfound Gap to Boulevard)
    6. Boulevard          5.4
    7. Brushy Mtn.      4.9
  • Total Time:                              19:32
  • Average Pace:                         2.4 mph
  • Total Elevation Gain:             11,924 ft.
  • Temperature Range:             60 – 82 degrees
Bull Head Trail

Bull Head Trail

Brian kept much better records than me and his post on www.leconte24.com  has a lot of excellent detail.  Having done this hike 4 years ago, we have some comparisons to make.  The first hike was completed in 22 hours. Our justification for the original route was to hike down the longest climbs.  An hour and a half was spent in shuttling from Alum Cave to Greenbriar; a technicality we fixed this time by changing the route.  We also took much shorter breaks between segments; typically  30 minutes or less.  In fact, our shuttle from Alum Cave to Newfound Gap was only 30 minutes complete.

Another subtle difference is that this year, we went ahead and did the Brushy Mtn. summit, which is a 0.4 mile spur trail from the junction for Trillium Gap and Brushy Mtn.  We passed it the first time because it was not technically an approach trail up Mt. Leconte.  The ramification for me was that four years later I had to go back and hike it to complete my 900 miler; a twist that required an 18 mile hike to snag 0.4 miles.  Brian agreed to go ahead and grab this section with me.  The 0.8 mile roundtrip took about 22 minutes so if we adjust for that, the “official” LeConte24 – 2015 hike was 45.6 miles in 19:10, 2 hours and 50 minutes faster than 2011.

View from the summit of Brushy Mtn.

View from the summit of Brushy Mtn.

Final Observations

The route we took this year seems optimal:

  1. Up Rainbow Fall – Down Trillium Gap
  2. Up Bull Head – Down Alum Cave
  3. Shuttle to Newfound Gap
  4. Up AT to Boulevard – Down Trillium Gap/ Brushy Mtn.

It was the shortest possible shuttle time and it minimized the total elevation gain.  We did not seem to suffer from taking shorter breaks.  Usually we would stop at the top for 15 – 20 minutes to eat something.  At the bottom, we would eat our “lunches” which for me included peanut butter sandwiches, fruit and chocolate.  This strategy worked perfectly until the final segment.  We reached the top on the Boulevard Trail around midnight and we elected to continue on down Trillium Gap with no break and no food.  By that time, neither of us was very hungry.  In fact we both had bouts of nausea and stomach aches.  This proved fateful because we both hit the proverbial wall.  The last five miles were rather excruciating because we were both completely out of energy and the Advil no longer took the edge off our weary legs and feet.  We would have been much better off to force down some nutrition.  It will was pretty dumb because we were both carrying plenty of food in our packs.  I guess with the finish line in sight coupled with upset stomachs, we both decided to grind through it.  Despite all this, we still averaged 2.4 miles per hour at the end.

Shawn on the Rainbow Falls Trail

Shawn on the Rainbow Falls Trail

This hike is doable!  Brian and I are both above average in fitness level but we are not ultra marathoners (although Brian has recently completed a half Triathlon).  The key is steady hydration and plenty of calories throughout the hike.  We both carried hydration bladder packs which made it possible to drink constantly.  I estimate I consumed about 5 liters of water in addition to 24 oz of Gatorade at each meal.  Brian kept a great record of his calorie intake on leconte24.com.  If I were to guess, we should have each consumed about 600 more calories on the last segment.

I hike mostly solo but I have to say there was a profound benefit to hiking with a partner on this hike.  Having great company goes without saying.  Especially in the last segment, it was good to have someone to help with pace but more importantly, when you are physically and mentally drained and your vision is drastically curtailed, you stumble a lot (more than usual) and although neither of us had any dangerous moments, the potential to injure yourself in the middle of the night, miles from help is ever present.

It took us three vehicles to do this.  We left one at Greenbriar where we finished up and drove one to Rainbow Falls Trailhead where we started.  We arranged for Brian’s wife Tina to meet us at Alum Cave and shuttle us to Newfound Gap.

My Garmin fenix 2

My Garmin fenix 2

This was the first time I have used GPS based electronics.  Garmin and others now have pretty powerful GPS systems in a watch configuration.  The mapping functions are not as useful during the hike itself as the typical hiking data.  I always knew how many miles we were into the segment and the elevation at any given time.  This allowed us to manage our pace so we would not blow it all out early in the hike.  Both our watches drained completely of battery power before the end of the hike.  There are ways to better manage power usage.  The data from the watch can be uploaded to a web app and all kinds of data and graphs are available for analysis.

Mt. LeConte, at 6,593 ft., is the third highest peak in the Smokies and the 6th highest east of the Mississippi. It is the crown jewel of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and a prize one has to earn.  There are no roads or shuttles or ski lifts.  Only feet and horseback.  The trails are all well maintained and clearly marked with signs.  The ridge is lined with spruces and Douglas Firs giving the smell of Christmas all year long.  It is certainly worthy of an epic hike.

Thanks to my great friend and brother Brian Thomas who shared this time with me…twice!

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Mt Leconte from Clingmans Dome

Mt. LeConte seen from Clingmans Dome

LeConte24 Part 3: Inside my head…

Boulevard Trail

Miles:   8.8       Elevation:   3724 ↑       Grade: 8%          

Hiking Time: 3:15       Pace:  2.8 mph       Avg. Temp.:   60

Map Miles Completed:   8.8       Total Map Miles:  36.5       Total Miles Hiked:   36.5

Newfound Gap at the beginning of the end

Newfound Gap at the beginning of the end

9:00 is a better start time than midnight.  man i’m freezing.  it’s not that cold but i’m shivering.  pull out the fleece.  it’ll come off in 15 minutes but right now, i’m freezing.  let’s get this picture over with and get moving.  watch that guy in the broken down pickup truck.  looks a little suspicious.  oh, good, he’s leaving.  so glad that truck cranked.

“Brian, you ready to go?  I’d need to hit the head right quick.”

“Yep. I’m ready to warm up so let’s move.”

it’s amazing but I don’t feel that bad after hiking almost 30 miles.  advil helped a lot.  i should have eaten more dinner.  it’s all good cause i have plenty of trail food.

Shawn: “Make sure to thank Tina for me.  She really helped us out by shuttling us up here.”

Brian: “You bet.  I think we made the right decision on the routing.  It took a total of 30 minutes to transport, eat and load up for the next segment.  Last time it took 1:45 to go around to Greenbriar.”

“We’re going to break 5:30 am all to pieces.  Heck, we’re going to break 4:00.  Do you think we can hit 3:30?  That would take 3 hours off our time.”

“I feel pretty good right now.  I think it’s a good chance we can. look, there’s the AT blaze.”

“It’ll take you all the way to Maine…”

“wow, pretty quick time to the Boulevard Trail.  that was a fast 3 miles.  crazy that the Jump Off is not on the official map.  even more crazy that trails like the horse trail around Smokemont are. a mile of mud and horse poop.  it’s just as well, there wouldn’t be much to see tonight.”

“We’re going down now.  A lot!  I’ve already climbed this elevation! I don;t want to do it again.  Do you know how much we descend?”

“I think it’s about 1,000 overall.  We head down until about 6 miles in.  Then we have to climb back up to the ridge.”

gotta be really careful.  legs are tired.  every time i stumble, i head for the edge of the trail.  Trees and rocks.  my head.  broken ankle.  can’t see much.  nice and cool though.  the night is clear.  thought there’d  be more stars than this.

“There’s a sign.”

I think it’s for Myrtle Point.  Yep that’s it…”

High Point is just ahead.  I wonder if I can get a picture of it…”

there’s the shelter, those guys we met at the Alum Cave trail said they were staying there.  It’s midnight.  we should wake them up and ask how far it is to Rainbow Falls. we should probably be quiet…

Rock Pile at High Point at midnight

Rock Pile at High Point at midnight

Trillium Gap/Brushy Mtn. Trail

Miles:   9.1       Elevation:   4,564↓       Grade: 9.5%          

Hiking Time: 3:50       Pace:  2.4 mph       Avg. Temp.:   60

Map Miles Completed:   5.4       Total Map Miles:  41.9       Total Miles Hiked:   45.6

9.61 miles.  i wish we could have figured out how to skip the Trillium Gap trail and just do the Brushy Mtn. trail. we’ve already done it anyway.  i don’t know why we’re counting Brushy Mtn. anyway.  technically, it doesn’t go all the way to the top.

“Hey Brian, did Dave Worth hike all 6 trails?”

“Yep.”

dang it!  i guess we gotta do it.  it’s not like we can hitch around it now at 1:00 in the morning.  9.78 miles.  man, we’re going slow.  i’m not sure having this GPS watch is such a great thing.  i keep looking down and we’ve only covered a tenth of a mile.  maybe it’s better not to know.  that way you’re surprised when you’re done.  we finished Alum Cave sooner than i thought.  9.81 miles.  that’s the fourth time the “low battery” warning came up.  i don’t remember the rocks being so big the last time.  how can they make the llamas walk on this stuff?  9.83 miles.  CRAP! we’re going slow.  my legs hurt. my butt hurts.  EVERYTHING hurts.  these big step things they put in the trail don’t help a bit.  9.98 miles.  GREAT!

“10 miles in Brian.  We’ve descended about 1,200 feet”

Low battery again.  

“Hey Brian, my watch isn’t going to last much longer”

“Mine’s dead too.  Hopefully it saved the data.  Be a shame to lose the whole day.”

great!  spend $300 on a fancy watch that can tell you how many steps you take and it can’t last a whole day.  

Brushy Mtn. Trail Junction

Brushy Mtn. Trail Junction

FINALLY!  Brushy Mt. trail.  i love seeing those signs. 4.5 miles to Porters Creek.  i can make this. i hope we’re done with the rocks.  Brushy Mtn. trail is one of those old logging road beds right?  i don’t remember. 

Brian: “We did the right thing hiking the spur trail to the summit this afternoon.  I’m so glad we don’t have to do it in the dark.

Me: “It, would have been pointless.  We wouldn’t see much except the city lights would be cool”

the rocks are still here and now there’s overgrowth. at least there hasn’t been any blow downs to climb over. WAIT! don’t say that, we still have 4 miles to go.  don’t kill the mojo!  i thought the cicada’s or whatever these things are would be gone by now.  i guess it’s better than dead quiet.  i thought we would hear an owl or something.  at least there’s no motorcycles in the distance.  no bears today.  wonder what happens if we hear that loud huffing sound. 12.6 miles.

“Hey Brian, 4 miles to go and we’ve descended about 2,200 feet.”

“It’s 4 miles to Porter’s Creek.  We still have the gravel road.  It’s another mile.”

“Are you sure??!!!

“I’m sure”

CRAPPPPP!!!! now i’m playing mind games on myself.  5 miles to go and it hurts every step.

“Brian, how are you feeling?”

“OK”

he’s lying.  my whole body hurts.  we’re both slowing down.  i felt so good at Newfound Gap, even going uphill.  should have eaten something but my stomach hurts.  drink some water.  10.13 miles. “low battery” AGAIN!  i gotta sit down a second.  i’ll let Brian hike on ahead and i’ll catch up.  i could fall asleep right now.  just a little nap.  it wouldn’t hurt our time that much.  WHAT AM I SAYING???!!!!  get up slacker.  OOOOOO my legs hurt.  great, Brian waited on me.  

“Hey Brian.  I’m dead!

“You mean you or your watch?”

“Both”

now what am i going to do?  i can’t tell our progress.  that’s it.  it’s way better to know and keep looking.  now all i can do is suffer.  got nothing left to talk about.  can’t see anything.  those cricket things won’t shut up!  my headlamp is a lot brighter than Brian’s.  i should lead for a while but i need him to pace me now.  i could count steps.  no, that’s just stupid.  i could pull out my phone and check the time but then i’d have to hold it.  i could ask Brian to check the time, he’s got that belt pocket.  nah, just grind it out.  working through the pain sounded honorable at high school football practice but it just sounds stupid now.  at least the trail’s finally smoothed out.  it’s really flat here. we gotta be close to the road. there’s a switchback.  switchbacks are good.  change of direction. something’s different.

Brian: “It’s the gravel road”

Me:  “Finally. Do you think we can pick up the pace?

Brian: “I don’t have much left.”

Me: “Me either.  We’re almost there.”

i REALLY hope we were supposed to turn left.  Brian seems sure.  i should ask.  no i trust him.  i REALLY hope he’s right. maybe he’s almost delirious like me.  are you crazy if you know you’re going crazy?  wait, that’s a catch 22.  i can’t be crazy because i’m thinking about being crazy. i wonder where the other end of this goes.  what would we do if we turned the wrong way?  nah, Brian knows.  i should ask. no i trust him.  I REALLY hope he’s right.  we’re moving faster.  that’s good.  chocolate milk is waiting in the truck.  cold chocolate milk.  i REALLY love chocolate milk.

“There’s some sort of light ahead!  Was there a street light at the trail head?”

“Don’t think so.”

LeConte24 - 2015: THE END!

LeConte24 – 2015: THE END!

“Wait, it’s the reflectors on the gate.  WE”RE DONE!!!”

“4:05 am.  We cut an hour and a half off our planned time, which was two hours off our first time.  19 1/2 hours.  Plus we added the Brushy Mtn. summit. WE DID IT!!!!”

Prelude

Every journey has a beginning and an ending.  Given that humans are creatures bound by time and space, we tend to measure our journeys with various milestones and devices including clocks and maps and events.  All this effort serves to provide the stuff we use to tell the stories of our adventures.

The AT Thru-hiker starts somewhere, usually Springer Mtn., GA and ends, usually on Mt. Katahdin, ME.  Thru hikers will count the days and in some cases the hours.  They may track dates and locations and miles covered.  Rituals mark the start and finish such as signing in at the ranger stations in Amicalola State Park and at Baxter State Park.  Packs are weighed.  Pictures are taken.  Good-byes are said.  Tears are shed.  Memories are forged.

I suspect with 900 Milers, many don’t mark the beginning of their 900 miler journeys; at least the first time.  With me it was an awareness of having hiked several trails and then reaching the point where I decided to start tracking the mileage and the dates of which trails were hiked.  As a consequence, the actual “beginning” of the journey is not marked by any ritual or celebration.

But the second map is different.  A second 900 Miler is deliberate.  One begins with an awareness of what is to come and the challenges ahead.  Such an undertaking should be marked with a worthy kickoff.  Some sort of event that is befitting a four-year project such as starting on an iconic mountain.  Perhaps a unique challenge that is difficult and memorable.  Perhaps it is an activity for which the answer to the question “Why?” is difficult for the casual observer. Perhaps the answer to that question is simply, “because I wanted to see if I could…”

Mt. LeConte – Sunset from the Lodge

So why not hike all the trails up Mt. Leconte?  In 24 hours?  It’s a 45.7 mile challenge and it’s doable.  I know this because I did it 4 years ago.  That hike was documented in detail at www.leconte24.com.  My original hiking partner for that hike was Brian Thomas and he is joining me again for this chapter. From what we learned the first time, Brian designed a route that minimizes altitude climbing and shuttling between trailheads.  With this new route, we hope to cut 2 hours off our original time of 22 hours and it will save about 900 feet of climbing.

Here is the new itinerary:

  1. Park at Rainbow Falls/ Bull Head Trail head
  2. Up Rainbow Falls (4,000 ft.) – Down Trillium Gap
  3. Up Bull Head (4,000 ft.) – Down Alum Cave
  4. Shuttle to Newfound Gap
  5. Up Boulevard (3,724 ft.) – Down Brushy Mtn.
  6. Car at Brushy Mtn. Trailhead in Greenbriar.

Date and time:  Saturday, September 19, 2015, 9:00 am EDT.

And so it begins…

We Were Created To Live In A Garden

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View from Charlie’s Bunion on The Appalachian Trail

“We were created to live in a garden, and it is there we feel most at home.”

                                                                                                 Wendell Boertje

A good friend was fond of saying that human beings were created to live in a garden.  That sentiment has always stuck with me.  When I first heard him say it, it was one of those moments when one realizes a basic truth, which had been there all along but remained hidden for some reason.

In the Jewish and Christian traditions, at the beginning, The Creator called the heavens and the earth into being and set about separating the darkness and chaos from light and divine order.  Then came the plants, and animals.  By the end of the first week, The Creator made man in the form of Adam from the dust of the ground to be the guardian and steward over Creation.  Although it was late on Friday of the first week when Adam showed up, The Creator was able to wrap everything up by the weekend and declared that it was all very good.  There was harmony and balance in a perfect system that was fruitful and self sustaining.

Then The Creator took a break.

On Sunday of week 2, The Creator planted a garden He named Eden, which means “delight” and “garden of God”.  Norman Maclean said, “Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”  And in Eden it did. By now, Eve showed up and everything was set.  The scriptures mention God walking through the garden in the cool of the evening, delighting Himself in the Creation and the company of Adam and Eve.

The scriptures tell of the prophet Elijah being sent by God to “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” (1 Kings 19:11).  There was wind, an earthquake and a fire.  And then a small voice; a whisper asking “What are you doing here?”  The voice of God was in the stillness.

The Jump Off

The Jump Off

My hiking companion and I arrived at The Jump Off on a beautiful Friday morning and we were blessed to have the place to ourselves, which is quite unusual.  The air was clear and still.  A slight breeze whispered to us we were in presence of something greater than ourselves.  There was profound stillness and quiet.  You could hear the hawk calling far off as it soared over the mountains.  Wisps of white clouds stood out against the deep azure sky and the green ridges rippled out as far as you could see.  The fresh smell of the fir trees was warm and sweet like bread baking.  A small quiet voice whispered to me, “Where have you been? I have missed you.  I’m glad you are here.”

While we were held in awe at the sight of Creation on this day, my companion said to me that this must have been how The Creator introduced Adam to his new home.  Perhaps He said something like, “See all I have created before you.  I made it for my pleasure and I want you to take care of it for me. I will meet you here and we will walk together and talk”.

I think Wendell was right.  The Creator is delighted to be among His creation and to be in the company of human beings.  He made a garden just so He could take quiet walks with us and He invited us to live there.  The world we created for ourselves is full of noise and distractions.  Alas, the Garden of God was closed to us long before we started keeping track of such things.

But maybe not.

Maybe it’s right in our back yard and we never thought of it before.

The Philosopher’s Guide

When I thru-hiked the AT in 1984, there was a guy who published a small book called “The Philosopher’s Guide to the Appalachian Trail”.  It had all the low down on where the cheap hostels were in town and the AYCE restaurants.  It had commentary on shelter conditions where the short cuts were that got you in and out of town quicker.  It became as indispensable as the trail maps and the Data Book.  I’m not sure if he got the idea from Douglas Adams but the core idea resembled the idea of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

It is in the spirt of all these fine literary works that I offer the Philosopher’s Guide section of the 900milerblog.

REIThis year REI came to Knoxville.  I have been a member since high school, a time period I now measure in decades.  REI and our local outfitters have done a great job of providing us with more gear options and technology than we can consume.  My generation of long distance hikers has grown up to become entrepreneurs designing great high-end equipment that is durable and lightweight.  The clothing manufacturers have taken notice and now there are dozens of lightweight shoes and high performance fabrics available.  I have been fortunate enough to be able to try a number of different technologies over the years.  I pass a lot of it along to my son and occasionally, a local Boy Scout troop get’s a windfall.

In this section of the blog, I’ll share the equipment I have chosen and my general philosophies that shaped the choices I made.  I’ll convey how well it works and whether or not I would buy it again.  Although I am not much of a do-it-yourselfer, I have friends who make their own tarps and packs and stoves so when I come across something of interest in that respect, I’ll try to pass it along.

Other points of wisdom may find their way into the Philosopher’s Guide as they reveal themselves along the way.

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I have long carried a candle lantern despite the weight and limited utility. There’s something comforting about fire at night.