Triple Crown Gear Hall of Fame

TripleCrownGear

I wanted to highlight the gear I used on all 3 trails. That’s over 7000 miles of hiking, and I think anything that lasts through all that deserves some special attention!

Leki Makalu Mountain Tour Poles

Leki Makalu Mountain Tour Poles
They just worked. I tried the lighter carbon fibre poles and after breaking 3 of them, I went back to the burly Lekis, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve worn them down quite a bit, the paint is flaking, the handles are worn, but they keep on trucking.

Western Mountaineering Megalite Down Sleeping Bag
I can’t say enough about Western Mountaineering. Even when I switched out my sleeping bag for a warmer one, I still went with the same company. Great stuff, durable enough to last 3 thru hikes, but still warm and light.  We even used it as a quilt when it was too hot for both of us to have warm sleeping bags!

OR Sunhat 
My hat for all 3 trips, although it did finally die halfway through the AT…

A little worse for wear

A little worse for wear

Ursack S29
This bag was an amazing piece of mind item throughout my Triple Crown. So many times, especially on the AT, I went to get it in the morning and found evidence that rodents had been trying to get in. Our hiking friends had to replace their food bags multiple times.

Other things that made it through all 3 trips but aren’t as interesting:

  • MSR Spork
  • Swiss Army Classic Knife
  • Photon Micro Light
  • Parts of my First Aid Kit
  • OR Headnet
  • Suunto MCA Compass

Honorable Mentions
This is some stuff that I used on 2 of the 3 trips that I loved:

  • Tarptent Contrail – My home on my two solo thru hikes. Stood up strong the whole way.
  • Neoair Short – For the CDT and AT, this was so much more comfortable than old self-inflating sleeping mats.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 120 – DONE!!!

image

We were glad we didn’t set up our tent last night since it rained all night again. We didn’t set an alarm, knowing we only had 17 miles today. It was nice to have a late morning and head out around 8:30 – it wasn’t really raining anymore even though it sounded loud under the shelter roof, but it was still very wet out. We are a big crew of 6, and today is THE LAST DAY! We hiked on in good spirits knowing we were almost done! We did get to a river crossing where the water was too high from the rain to rock-hop – very reminiscent of Maine! Brown just ploughed through – he is so excited to be so close to home and he just couldn’t care less if his shoes got soaked. The rest of us found a fallen tree downstream and navigated across.

image

Ryley and I stopped in for an early lunch, knowing we weren’t in a rush. We ducked in to a shelter shared with 2 hikers out for their first ever backpack trip. They were wet but in good spirits.

We carried on, crossing paths with lots of sections hikers – apparently everyone is out to enjoy the nice weather! A few of them told us the Highwaymen and Brown are waiting, not patiently, for us to summit and finish the trail with. So I guess they didn’t stop for lunch…

image

We hit the last mile of the trail, uphill to Springer Mountain, rock- and root-hopping through very wet trail, then we got to the “top”, and the end of the trail! 2,189 miles from mile 0 on top of Mt Katadyn in Maine. Springer has a plaque and the first white blaze – but not much of a view, although there was nothing to see today, anyways. We took quite a few group photos, exchanged high-5’s, had a Coke (and some fireball went around, too). Then, I performed a quick ceremony to celebrate Ryley’s completion of his TRIPLE CROWN!! Complete with crown, sceptre and wand. And rain, of course.

We didn’t hang out too long before getting cold, so we hiked down 1.5 miles of the “Approach Trail” to Black gap shelter. We got here early – 4pm! The plan is to meet Brown’s family at the parking lot at 11am tomorrow morning, which we have 7 miles to hike to.

We nommed all our leftover snacks, and fancy Mountain House dinners and apple crisp for dessert, too! Got into warm, dry clothes and watched the rain for the evening.

DONE! Crazy.

Posted in Appalachian Trail, Journal | 10 Comments

Day 119

image

It rained much of the night but we woke to clouds and fog. We hit the trail early and missed quite a few views due to the fog. It actually didn’t rain at all the whole day, so we are pretty thankful. We found some nice views on Cowrock Mountain, then crossed into Neels Gap. There is a gear store right in the gap, and the trail actually goes through the building. For Northbounders, it is famous for helping them fix whatever gear issues they have, usually lightening their packs considerably. We didn’t need anything but we did have some sodas and grab some snacks for the end. We also got a free I’ve cream bar for being SoBos.

image

We went outside to eat lunch and Brown and the Highwaymen were walking up the road. They had spent the night in town and gotten a late start. We ate our snacks and lunch quickly, then got hiking with them, catching up on what each other had been up to. We hiked 16 more miles with them, over Blood Mountain, in the clouds. We’d heard about it forever as a really hard climb… But we crushed it because we are in great shape!

image

One more day.

We are all in the shelter talking about finishing the trail.

Posted in Appalachian Trail | 2 Comments

Day 118

It was clouded in and grey when we got up but not raining as we headed next door for breakfast. Breakfast at the Top of Georgia comes with a printed sheet of the “local weather  forecast for the Appalachian Trail”. Today, the forecast was: 100% chance of scattered thunderstorms. We put on our wet shoes then Thomas from the hostel gave us a lift the 1/2 mile to the trail and we were hiking by 8am.

image

The first thing we did was hike up and out of dick’s gap and (drumroll, please!) above the clouds!!! We checked out a Vista side trail and had a nice view to the east overlooking the valley. We hiked the “toughest 16 miles of Georgia” – dick’s gap to Unicoi gap – before 3pm. This included the whoop-de-whoops. Apparently, once you’ve hiked 2100 miles, three back to back 1000ft climbs only made my radar as “whoop-de-whoops”. So, I guess we’re in hiking shape then??

image

After Unicoi gap we hiked another 14 miles to finish our day at Low Gap, 43 miles from the end! From around 4pm the 6pm we were listening to some pretty ominous thunder, and we were walking pretty quickly to try to beat the rain. Luckily, the last 4-5 miles of our day was really easy road grade trail. We missed the rain, though – we got to the shelter and the storm just kind of passed us by. We’re sharing a shelter with a flip-flopper named No Hurry, and 2 section hikers from New Hampshire.

Posted in Appalachian Trail | 1 Comment

Day 117

In honour of the continued crappy weather, here are some videos. First, two from our wet walk into Damascus: https://youtu.be/DApVfu0ItA0 and https://youtu.be/TX_DIiEBIfs

Then, how we hope our hike will end, with a beautiful day like we had at Beauty Spot Gap: https://youtu.be/scFlgkAvpFw

Today we were up at dawn in the rain, hiking two hours to Hiawassee, GA for our final resupply. Apparently we missed Brown and the Highwaymen by an hour, but we are staying the night here, so really we are still a day behind…  We are charging our devices, drying out wet things and preparing for the final push to the end!

Posted in Appalachian Trail | 1 Comment

Day 116 – GEORGIA!

image

image

Sasscrotch, Luke, and their 4 dogs ended up setting up their tents and leaving us alone in the 16person shelter. We felt bad for them in the morning since it rained hard on and off all night. The rain and the dark kept us in our sleeping bags a bit late again but we were hiking before 8. Less than 15 minutes into the trail I was startled by 3 hounds streaking towards me, about 5 more followed – all decked out in collars with little radars on them. No sign of an owner, though.

image

It was another soggy day – possibly even wetter than yesterday. Early in the day we summoned Mt Albert with a view of nothing – it had a fire tower but there wasn’t much point in climbing up. We split lunch into 2 so we could have 2 breaks in shelters out of the rain. We also went up Standing Indian Mountain, but the AT skirted the summit (we were still in the clouds anyway). The trail was pretty fast walking today – lots of rhododendron tunnel, and gradual ups and downs. But, it was also very wet, and pretty slick in places where there was mud or rocks. We both had quite a few awkward slides and slips we recovered from.

image

We hit our end-day goal of 21 miles at a shelter around 4:15pm, so decided to tack on another 7. It was starting to seem a bit drier around this time but that was just to fool us, it started raining and wind-raining water from the trees on us again shortly. We crossed into Georgia – our last state! – around 5:30 and got to the next shelter around 7, where we called it for the night. Long, wet day!

Posted in Appalachian Trail | 2 Comments

Day 115 – 100 miles to go!

image

We have 102.5 miles to go! Some non-trail things we’re looking forward to:
Vegetables
Real pillows
Water out of the tap
Dry clothes, socks, and shoes in the morning
Electric toothbrush
Ryley’s feet smelling like he showered
Being able to look at more than the 2 feet of ground in front of my feet
The metric system
Good coffee, on demand
Breakfast being a sitting activity, not a hiking activity
Chaffing begone
Walking around without breaking cobwebs with my face
Being able to get up at night without going through Ryley and the door in the tent

Day 115
Our shelter was in the clouds so it was misting/raining/wind-raining (wind shaking water out of the trees) all night. We got a late start and hiked onwards through more clouds. Even though it wasn’t technically raining, our legs and socks/shoes got soaked through from all the water on the wet brush over the trail. Sigh. It was a pretty boring day with no views, despite going up to Wayah Bald with a rock tower on it, and Siler Bald. We did go through a crazy amount of gaps: burning town gap, licklog gap, wayah gap, panther gap, swinging lick gap, winding stair gap, wallace gap, rock gap, and glassmine gap. There wasn’t much to differentiate these gaps from the rest of the trail usually (except 2 that went down to a road), more like someone in the trail club told their grandkid they could name anything they wanted to.

I convinced Ryley to go to siler bald shelter for lunch so that at least an hour of our day was dry, which was nice. The shelter was jokingly dubbed “mile off trail no privy shelter” – not a thru hiker’s dream. Although, it turned out there was a privy, which Ryley made a run for.

We did get lightly rained on around 4:30pm but it didn’t try too hard. We ended up at Long Branch shelter – a nice new one built in 2012 that sleeps 16 with a full loft. Shortly after we got here 2 brothers showed up with their curious and friendly 4 dogs, and we are hanging out with them.

Posted in Appalachian Trail | 1 Comment

Day 114

image

We woke up early because it’s a town day! Since the weather continues to be crap, we had to hike with headlamps for a bit even though technically the sun was “up”. We descended for a couple hours down into Nantahala Outdoors Center (NOC), with a brief view between two levels of clouds. When we hit NOC, it was a total zoo, as this weekend is their busiest of the year. Guest Appreciation Festival has a big swap meet, plus their outdoor store has a massive sale, PLUS all their rental gear for the year goes on sale (kayaks, bikes, etc, etc). There were also food vendors and live music. Thousands of people.

image

We got through it all and found the breakfast joint (and the Highwaymen) and ate a leisurely breakfast. Then laundry and very expensive/bad resupply. Then we walked across the whole NOC complex for a coin operated shower. We had another meal (and a beer) before finally making it out of the vortex by mid-afternoon.

image

We climbed straight back up into the mountains, and eventually, the clouds. We climbed a fire tower right below the cloud line, so had a good view from there. We passed what would have been some nice views that were socked in. We hit a shelter and for the first time in a long while, we are by ourselves. The Highwaymen have pushed on to start trying to catch Brown, so we will likely see them at the end of the trail.
DBB
High Wire Brewing:
Lazy Hiker Smoky Porter (Bearcat)
Lager (Monk)

Posted in Appalachian Trail | Leave a comment

Day 113

image

Cowboy camping was, unfortunately, a complete disaster. We got nommed on by no-see-ums and some mosquitos, and Ryley asked if we could either try to set up the tent or go in the shelter. I said “no, we’re having an adventure!”. 10 minutes later it started to rain. So! We moved into the upper bunk of the Fontana Hilton shelter and had a dry sleep while it rained all night.

We were woken up to the sound of a rodent gnawing insistently on (I think) the shelter itself…kind of hard to sleep through. It was very wet out so we stayed in our warm sleeping bags for a bit and listened to the raindrops on the roof. We convinced ourselves to get on the trial by 8 but we didn’t make it very far – q mile down the trail was a marina and we decided to see if they might sells coffee (wishful thinking…). The guy running the store (Tim) said no, but he had a pot made and we were welcome to help ourselves. Hurray! We sat in the marina store chatting with Tim, drinking coffee, eating a warmed up plastic wrapped Danish (I’m not sure I ever would have thought I’d call one of those things “good”…but I am now) and watching it intermittently pour outside.

image

Great view from the top!

We moved on around 9 and had a big climb up from Fontana Lake, then lots of up and downs. It was a soggy day walking through the clouds and getting rained on off and on. We stopped at a shelter with the Highwaymen for a late lunch. We had another big climb to end our day up to Cheaua Bald – another spot we’d been told to camp on for a beautiful sunset and sunrise – but it was completely socked in and we’d gotten poured on again after lunch. So we carried on another mile to Sassafras shelter where we got into dry clothes, made a hot dinner, then crawled into bed :) Another 5000ft or so climbing day, 23 miles.

Posted in Appalachian Trail | Leave a comment

Day 112 – Into North Carolina

image

Today we are officially in North Carolina. For the last week we’ve been riding the border between NC and TN, but now we’re fully into NC.

image

We got up pre-dawn and headed out as soon as we could see, around 7. We climbed up Rocky Top and although we missed the sunrise, it still had cool views. Then we started down, hitting a couple shelters, stopping at one for lunch.

image

After lunch, more down, and we stopped at an amazing fire tower. It was really tall and we could see back to Clingmans Dome, and the whole ridge we had followed since. We saw a couple bears after that, then finally down to Fontana Dam. We walked across the very large dam, then went into the visitors center to do a mini resupply to get us to NOC, our next real resupply. We hung out there for awhile before heading out again, a short hike to the Fontana Hilton, a very nice shelter with a view over the reservoir for the Dam. (mk: It also had real washrooms with a men’s and women’s side, each had a shower with hot water – swanky! I took advantage but Ryley decided to stay a stink-butt.)

image

We also got some phone service and sent Brown some texts. It seems he’s sped up as we’ve slowed down, so he’s now a full day ahead of us. Ah well, we will probably try to catch up with him right on the last day of our hike (which is now fast approaching!)

image

Mk: we got to see a nice sunset over the reservoir then decided to cowboy camp out – which I’ve never done before!

Posted in Appalachian Trail | Leave a comment