On The AT Day 1

Started from Amacolola Falls. The stairs were brutal. 750 steps to the top of the falls. The climb to springer on the approach trail was also pretty tough. I felt fine except I was having issues ppbreathing due to the altitude change from Kansas City. I started the 8.8 miles around 9:30 and got to the top of Springer around 6:30.

When o got to the top there was a whole group of past thru hikers celebrating St. Pats day. They had hot dogs and beer for everyone.

On top of Springer there was a group of college students who had brought their trumpets and played several songs.

I had my dinner of hot dogs and headed to bed. During the middle of the night it started pouring and then a mist / drizzle proceeded for the rest of the night

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BBQ Blues and Blow Outs Road Trip to the AT

I am finally in Georgia. Sitting here in Dahlonega enjoying  a nice sunny day. Today is our rest day. The plan is to go through my gear one last time and get some last min items. How we got to Georgia was a good trip with some unexpected turns. Here is what happened.

My friend Chris and I left Kansas City around 9 am on Thursday morning. We drove all day and stopped in Memphis Tennessee. It was about an 8 hour drive. We decided to break p the trip and not drive the entire 14 hours all in one day. I think we are both very glad we did. We Got to Memphis around 7, checked into the hotel, and then head out to grab some dinner. The shuttle driver suggested a place called Cozy’s the place was fantastic. The food was excellent and to be honest the BBQ was better than of most places in Kansas City. We even got to talk with the owner for awhile and she told us that even her great grand kids where working there. It has been open for 35 years and it is a Must try if you are ever in or near down town Memphis.

BBQ

BBQ Feast at Cozy’s

 

We got up on Friday morning and headed out to St Jude Children’s Hospital. It was an interesting experience. I had gone there as a child for my cancer treatments and the place has change to where I could hardly recognize it. A few of the buildings were the same, but the complex as at least three times larger than when I was there as a kid. It was great to see its growth knowing the amount of good they do in the world and have over the 20 years since my treatments.

St Judes

Adam in front of St Jude’s

Our next stop was to see the Ducks at the Peabody Hotel. A beautiful hotel in downtown Memphis where every morning they bring the ducks down an elevator and they parade them to a fountain in the main lobby. Every night they take them back upstairs to their little ducky living quarters.

Ducks in the fountain

Ducks in the fountain

Blues and Friend Catfish were calling so we headed down to Beale Street to get some great grub at BB Kings restaurant. It never lets ya down. An awesome atmosphere and even better food.

The legendary BB Kings

The legendary BB Kings

 

Beale Street

Beale Street

We finished up lunch and then headed back to get our car at the hotel. We set a course for Graceland to drive past to say that we saw it. On the way there we had a tire blow out on the off ramp to get to Graceland. So we spent the next few hours dealing with that. We finally left Memphis around five and began our drive to Dahlonega. It was a long drive through the Tennessee mountains in the dark. We arrived at 2:30 local time and pretty much crashed.

 

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 12 the final day

Day 12: For me, this morning was not really sad, but rather I really didn’t want to leave this beautiful place, and honestly I was mad! It took me 10 minutes to realize that I should be thankful that I still had another day and when I thought about it I felt quite lucky.

As we all took down our tents for the last time Michael and I were thinking about dinner already, at the pizza place. First we would have to make it through the day. We set off for one of our highlights of the trip, The Tooth Of Time. We thought the Tooth would be relatively close but it took us double what I originally thought. We were all exhausted and sore but we pressed on. We hiked the ridge of the mountain that leads to the Tooth. It was really rocky and an easy place to break an ankle or get your walking stick stuck. I almost did both of these things and I knew an injury now would be a heart breaker as we were so close.

We reached the base of the Tooth and took off our packs. We had to put up our edibles in a bear bag because a bear had been seen recently and the mini bears were thick. Now all we had was our cameras and our water bottles. The hike up was really cool because there was a small path but it kind of stopped so I said screw it and went straight up the steep side, and everyone followed. It reminded me of when my neighbor and I climbed in a gully behind his house, and it was perfect outside.

There were hardly any clouds and the perfect temperature. I was one of the first ones to get to the top and it legitimately took my breath away! It was amazing how far you could see and that instant I finally understood what my brothers had told me about. I was finally able to feel what they felt and why they loved their trip so much! I also thought about how many generations of my family had been on the top of the Tooth; my grandpa, dad, and both my brothers. I was standing where they had stood years and years ago.

We could see base camp and Mr. Adams said, “That’s us in a couple of hours boys”. I looked around and we got our pictures then I sat along the edge and looked down and saw a group of ants. I wondered if they knew where they were. If they knew that they were 9,000 feet in the air. I felt like I was on top of the world and we could even see our starting point from the Tooth, Zastrows Turnaround. I thought it would be a little scary being that high up but it wasn’t at all. It was amazing! We did, however, want to make it back before lunch so we all took one last look at the views and the little plaque at the highest point and went back down the same way we got up, straight down.

You could tell we were all tired, Ron looked just about dead and so did Jakob. Robert didn’t look as bad nor did Michael. I have no idea what I looked like and the adults were determined to make it. We carried on doing switchbacks all the way down and the worst part was around every corner we could see base camp and we even did some bushwhacking if we could see the trail. I thought Rob wouldn’t let us but he kept quiet and I realized they were just as tired as us. We all felt dead! I knew I had to finish, we were so close it would be stupid not to. Within 2 miles I ran out of water, and everyone started to run out.

It felt like we were creeping along and just barely going down in elevation when we finally leveled out. I didn’t talk much today. I don’t know if it was because I was tired or focused but we rounded the next corner and there was the fence with the sign above it. It read “Welcome Back”, and at that point I knew we were home free. I felt great pride in the fact that we all made it and no one got it any fights or arguments despite the mental challenges.  We had overcome the pain and fought through it. We didn’t stop when the going got rough.

We had done it; we conquered Philmont as a team. After much excitement we finished the last quarter mile to the mess hall. It was about 1:00 so it was after dinner but Rob marched us in there and told them who we where and that we had just gotten off the trails. While Rob was talking we figured they would bring us some normal base camp food or maybe sandwiches but nope, they brought us 2 whole pizzas and we ate it all. It tasted amazing and we were, for once, full.

We checked in and got our tents and went to the cars. I grabbed my IPod and phone before anyone could protest. I texted the family saying all was fine and I had an amazing time. We went to our tents and we all took showers. Once again it felt great! We also had to return our items we borrowed and went to the trading post.

I changed into gym clean shorts and my Hiking The Trail shirt and we went off to dinner at the local pizza place. We all ate and I checked my email on someone’s wifi. It was weird being connected again. We then realized we had missed some of the Olympics but I would rather be at Philmont then watching the Olympics any day. We headed back to camp and had to go to the closing campfire where they told some stories. They gave us our patches and when the campfire ended, we went back to camp and went to bed.

It was that night while listening to music I realized what my brothers said. I understood how it changed their lives and now it had changed mine, how Philmont was one of the most beautiful places in America, and every story they told me I could relate to. It felt great. The next morning we went to breakfast then went to the Philmont sign and took our last pictures. While we were loading the cars I noticed there was a rainbow in front of the Tooth, like Philmont was saying goodbye. This was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on, and one that will change me rest of my life. What an amazing place with amazing people!!!

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer.”    
– Greg Child

This is a continuation of my brothers trail diary of his Philmont Trip in the summer of 2012.  To read all of the previous posts you can find them here:

Keeping warm in the middle of a snow storm

photoOnly 16 days until the trail and there is so much to do and very little time left. I have spent most of the past few weeks snowed in. We have had more snow in the past 2 weeks than we have had in several years. Granted 16 inches isn’t a massive amount compared to some places in the continental United States. I have been having a constant battle with the city and they seem to be winning. Their trucks can plow more snow than I can shovel out of my driveway.

On Monday I was let go from work. I will not get into the details but needless to say it actually comes as a blessing. I had been planning on leaving anyway so in the end all things worked out in my favor. My stress level has gone down incredibly on the work side but is starting to increase as I get closer and closer to the trail. Packing of the pack, and continuous packing of resupply boxes and it just seems like nothing is getting done.

In other news today I booked my hotel room in Dahlonega Georgia. Dahlonega sits at the base of Springer Mountain the official Start of the AT.

More to come and maybe from GA?

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 11

Day 11: We left camp a little bit earlier than usual because we had to stop at the hunting cabin we skipped the day before and it was cool. They showed us the claw marks all over the south door when the bear tried to get in a couple years ago. After about an hour we went east toward our last campsite on the trail, Shaefer’s Pass Camp.

All was normal on the hike and I was enjoying the views. It was a normal day by Philmonts standards. Bright sun, not a cloud in the sky, and the perfect temperature.  When we stop for lunch were are at Clarks Fork where we can get our stuff branded. I chose to have my hat that my brother, Alex, gave me branded and it looks great! We ate our dinner for lunch again so we didn’t have to carry more water into Shaefer’s as it was a dry camp.

It took longer to eat than I had hoped but it was getting really hot because we were no longer at a really high altitude compared to what we were at. When we did set off we were all sweating so bad it was terrible. I don’t think anyone really cared honestly. I was now focused on finishing the hike, no matter how tired I was, physically and emotionally. We were about a mile from camp when it started to get really cloudy and we knew it was going to rain.

We rushed into camp right when it started sprinkling and we got everything set up in record time. To get the bear bags, rainfly, and all our tents up took 15 minutes, which was amazing for us and it had to be the most organized thing we did all trip. Right when we got done, the raindrops stopped coming down and Michael and I high-fived and we were pumped! Our adrenaline was going and we felt pretty darn good. We settled around a rock and we played some cards.

After about 10 minutes, Dalton started getting frustrated and he threw down his cards and walked off. We all looked at each other and just kept playing b.s. Then we went and played some 3 hit run and we all played, Even Ron! We started to sweat so we took off our shirts and just relaxed. The very gentle breeze felt great and we were having a great time.

When it was time for dinner we had to go find Dalton because he wandered away and he was on top of the hill. We convinced him to come eat and we did. We ended up eating our lunch since we already ate our dinner and then went to bed. I quickly fell asleep thinking about what tomorrow would bring us, as it was the last day on the trail!

This is a continuation of my brothers trail diary of his Philmont Trip in the summer of 2012.  To read all of the previous posts you can find them here:

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