Category Archives: Hiking/Backpacking

Haw River in the snow

I was able to get out in the snow today and run from home to the Haw River and back. I wanted to share some photos here.

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AT: Family backpacking trip

For my birthday, I wanted to do a family backpacking trip.  We opted to do nearly the same exact trip we did with the HTC men’s group in early June, documented here, here, and here.  As the trips were almost identical, I’ll not go into the details of the journey.  I’ll just say that the kids did very well in the 20 miles and nearly 4000′ of climb that we did, and post some photos.

Day 1

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We stopped for a “coffee break” for me and a rest stop for everyone else.  Reece threw up the hammock and chilled while Kelly got some sun in the back.

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Here’s the kid’s tent site near Wise Shelter (just on the other side of the creek):

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Mess hall:

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Day 2

Heading out:

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(a bit of a joke as we had only walked about 5 minutes!)

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Rock climbing:

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Lunch break

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Evening camp site:

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Our site was invaded by ponies…  Some editing done by Riley:

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Day 3

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AT: HTC Summer backpacking trip day 3

I slept much better on the 2nd night, as per usual.  I was a bit worried about the cold, but it ended up not being as cold as the 1st night.   Sometime just before 6 a.m., though, I was woken by sounds that are very hard to explain.  In hindsight, it’s easy to call them “aggressive munching sounds.”  This was right next to me on the right side of my tent.  And then something was making noise on the upper side of the left tent.  I quickly looked up, and saw the shadow of a head of some kind of animal poking its snout all over my tent!  Based on the way the light was behind it, and not being fully awake, it was not a shape that made sense to me, but my 1st guess was baby bear.  I sleep with my hiking poles in the tent, so I “gently” tapped the top corner of the tent a couple times to get it to move.

Once that was done, I could hear munching all around the tents.  I poked my head out and could see lots of animals — adult and baby horses!  I couldn’t get my phone camera to work for a bit, and all I got was this crazy video:

Well once the animals cleared out, there was no getting back to sleep.  But being awake did allow me to watch an incredible sunrise:

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After we had breakfast and packed, we walked down to a nice site for morning prayer.  This was the site on way down:

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IMG_0966.jpgThe altar:

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During prayer:

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During prayer there were horses all around us, and some kept going after various packs — trying to get inside, etc.   During the NT reading, there was literally a stampede right through the middle of our group, and Shea had to jump out of the way, while I had to jump behind a tree.  I have a little video of the aftermath where they were running back through:

Eventually the horses let us be and we were able to complete a wonderful morning prayer service, including communion.

As the last day we just had a 5 mile hike, mostly downhill;

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All in all another great trip.  I hope to take some of the 2sparrows clan out on this same loop in July.  But every time I am on the AT, I can’t help but thinking about thru-hiking.  I’ve done close to 500 miles on it now, but spread out over many years.   I really would like a crack at doing it in one go someday!

AT: HTC Summer backpacking trip day 2

I never sleep well on Day 1 on the trail, and this trip was no different.  Despite a camp site right next to a load stream, which was wonderful, I still tossed and turned a bit.  And I was chilly, even in my so called 20F bag.  :-/  Granted I did not put on my socks or jacket, but still!  I woke up early and decided to walk the 5 minutes towards the shelter, as there were two nice privy’s there.

Shea was camped near me, without even a rainfly:

On the way back I heard what I thought sounded like a lot of cows coming our way, and hoped the guys up on the ridge were awake!  (Shea, David, Caleb, and myself had all camped lower by the stream.)  I arrived and luckily the guys were up, with at least 10 large steer (including LARGE horns) all mixed amongst their tents, including this fire eating bad boy:

And a video:


After all the excitement, I made another amazing cup of stream side coffee:

The privy (“a poo with a view”):

We had a shorter hike today, but it was still a climb:

Once we reached the top of that climb it was really open and exposed — and crowded.  There’s a day hiker’s parking lot not far from there, and there were a lot of people out.  It was still gorgeous:

We debated at the top about what to do.  Shea had scouted the area by the spring, and it was crowded.  There were other options further on, but since he hadn’t scouted them, we didn’t know if they’d be any better.  In the end we headed to the spring and eventually found some good camp sites.

After setting up, Bob and I decided to “fast pack” to Mount Rogers (just a small day back).

AT: HTC Summer 2017 backpacking trip day 1

The summer Holy Trinity Chatham back packing trip was set for Grayson Highlands State Park in VA.  Michael and I drove up and met the crew — large this time at 15 hikers, at the trail head.  We were joining the AT at Fairwood Road (VA 603). The two of us got there late due to a nail in the tire that had to be taken care of before we left Pittsboro, right when most of the hikers were ready to go. The big group took off and Michael and I left 15-20 minutes later.

We caught the main group half way up the hill, and then I decided to keep moving to find Shae, Caleb, and Bob, who were ahead.  After at least an hour or more on my own, I started to worry that perhaps the plan had changed and I hadn’t been told!  I had stayed on the AT, but never saw the lead group.  I reached the 6 mile point, where the itinerary said the shelter would be, but it was at least another two miles according to the map and other hikers.  I debated for quite some time here on what to do, eventually finding a nice rock to make a cup of coffee on and wait.  And wait.  And Wait.

After 45 minutes I debated whether I should just go forward to the shelter/camp site and wait, or go back.  I assumed either way if the plan had changed, someone would realize I was following the original plan and come find me.   I opted to hike back to the group, and after at least a mile, finally came across Shea, Caleb, and Bob.  They had waited at a trail junction, but slightly off the trail, and we never saw each other. The four of hiked on to the camp area and set up our own tents, and waited for the rest of the crew to show up.

Photo’s below:

Strava data – this includes my back and forth route along the AT:

Trailhead sign (and my HEAVY pack — I packed enough to solo thru-hike the AT other than food!):

I was my own barista on the trail, waiting for the group and debating whether to go forward or back…  The coconut is a bit sweet for me, but the frothiness was good.

Lots of ponies by the shelter… We had camped before this, on the other side of a fence and stream as no tents were allowed in this area.

A good place for the food, considering the bear stories we had heard on the trail and read in the log book at Wise Shelter…

Pikes Peak via Crags and Devil’s Playground

When in Colorado in July or August, I always try to squeeze in a 14er…  I hadn’t done Pike’s yet, and hadn’t seen Gordo for two years since he paced me through Leadville…  We got a bit of a late start, as Ben was on call until 6 a.m. and had a call come in that kept him up until 2, but eventually we were on the road a little after 7, picked up Gordo a little after 8, and made it to the trail head around 9 a.m.

This was going to be stout — 4300′ in 7 miles up, then back down.  This just 2 days after the 20 miles Ben and I put in at an average of 11,000 ‘ over in Breck.  But there were donuts waiting at the top!  Pikes is one of those mountain summits that has a road to the top (as well as a train!), along with a gift shop, deli, etc.  But we heard the donuts were good and were determined to earn them the hard way!  🙂

(I did need to excuse myself from the mass crowd inside the building at the top — there’s something about big crowds in places like this that I get a bit agrophobic…  Big crowds in big cities or stadiums, etc., never bother me, and “phobic” isn’t really the right word…  But I guess there’s something I don’t care for about such close proximity to 500 or 1000 other people in settings like this.  :-/)

I’d have to say this was my strongest 14er to date…  I was feeling it on the 1st steep pitch up to 13,000’ or so, but there there’s a mile and a half flat/gradual ascent section before the final pitch, and that gave me a chance to recover.  The final pitch of all my prior 14ers have been a slog, but I felt pretty good on this one.  We arrived at the top roughly 30-45 minutes faster than I had expected!

Lots of photos below:

  
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

And some shots from Gordo:

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Mount Washburn, Yellowstone

This was a family hike of roughly 3.25 miles up with1500′ of gain to 10,200′, and then 3.25 miles back down the same trail.  I was able to sneak in a few hill sprints ranging from 30-120 seconds.  With a backpack full with all of our food and water, 2 minutes at 10,000 feet was tough!