Saturday, March 23, 2013


Friday evening from the Black-Clawhammer Saddle
The old adage “no rain, no pain, no Maine” helped me and Uwharrie get out the door this weekend for what was certain to be a cold rainy counterclockwise LGLA loop. Of the four rounds completed this year, the January LGLA remains the warmest. Still recovering from the crud, I opted to once again carry the heavier half bag and poncho. I tweaked the menu to the saltier side and also went without poles.

The menu
A couple weeks ago, I cracked one of my homemade carbon fiber poles by stepping on it while setting up camp atop Pilot Mountain. Luckily the 1” Gorilla Tape wrapped around each pole allowed me to successfully splint it. However, this repair cost me some time, so my focus is to seek out reliable alternatives to the gear most prone to failure. My poles and air mattress are currently in the cross hairs.

Approaching the highlands along the MST
Hiking sticks in the Appalachians are abundant, free and organic. This has been my philosophy on my 2007 AT, 2009 BMT and 2011 MST thru-hikes, so why change now? Going without prefabricated poles for the AT may be the way to go. Sticks can always be picked up en route. Also, according to Jen Pharr Davis, hiking poles can be more of a hindrance than a help through Maine and New Hampshire.

Chowing on some snow
I recently received a copy of Jen’s forthcoming book Called Again chronicling her 2011 record-setting AT hike (due out this summer). It’s equally informative as it is entertaining. She does a good job of portraying how challenging it was and almost had me rethinking my summer plans! I’m thankful that I will be attempting 10 miles less each day, which will hopefully make this upcoming trek more enjoyable.

Heating up some miso in the clouds
After falling asleep gazing into a moonlit forest, Uwharrie and I awoke to the sound of rain on the roof of the Buckhorn Gap Shelter. The chilly drizzle came and went all the way to the highlands of the Great Balsams, but on our way down, the sun came out and it turned into a gorgeous afternoon. For variety (conjuring up memories from a summer seven years past), we opted to hike to Cat Gap via Farlow Gap and Long Branch: a 37 mile day in 10 hours and 10 minutes.

Thru the spruce...
Down the rocks from Farlow Gap...
Across many creeks...
Thru the pines and back home again


Scott Brockmeier said...

Thanks Matt. This makes me want to get out and tramp around. Here's to staying crud free the rest of the year! Cheers!

mkirk said...

Scott, you're welcome to grab your pack and come out and join me anytime!

Steve Pero said...

Matt, you can always use a broomstick handle ;-)
Looking forward to reading Jen's latest book, I read the first (loved it)and just finished Brew's book,46 days.
Best of luck, Deb and I are jealous and have a thru hike planned in the future. Maybe in our 70's?
We'll be following you thru your posts.

Jeff List said...

One thing I can can attest to -- ultralight carbon poles get shredded in a few days in the Whites of New Hampshire.

mkirk said...

Steve, Jeff, thanks for the well wishes and info. FYI Scott et al., planning a little jaunt: