There's nothing like a cold sardine while you take a lunch break while backpacking in the Smokies. I think I'll stick to beef jerky!
In Episode 28, Sprinkles and NoKey tell us about their ultimate thru-hiking summer – walking 1400 miles on four major trails on the East Coast – including the Benton MacKaye, Finger Lakes, Northville-Placid and Long Trails.
Forewarning, we spend the majority of the podcast discussing their 20 day, ~290 mile hike on the Benton MacKaye Trail – a great alternative to the Appalachian Trail in the South – but there's lots of great tips on backpacking and thru-hiking in general.
So listen in – and when the mobs of thru-hikers hit the Trail next year after the movies Wild and Walk In The Woods motivate the masses… you now have some great alternatives to the A.T. and P.C.T.!
Subject: The Benton MacKaye Trail
Interviewees: Jen (Sprinkles) and Patrick (NoKey)
Interview Date: July 21, 2015
Download Now: The Benton MacKaye Trail (WMA format 53.5 Meg);
The Benton MacKaye Trail (MP3 format 66.0 Meg)
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After a unseasonably cool winter, the weather finally broke and we decided to take the kids out for an overnight hike. We did this one on a Friday night to avoid conflicts with spring sports and with spring break. Here we are at the parking area at Three Forks on the Appalachian Trail.
The dog is more excited than anyone and is hauling his own food, water, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. All in – the dog’s pack weighs about 8 lbs – nearly the same weight as my empty (and aging) Dana Design backpack!
Here we are climbing to Long Creek Falls along the A.T. and headed northbound. The trail is nice and wide in this area and it is a pleasant walk to the waterfall and junction with the Benton MacKaye Trail.
There is a father and son from Orlando camped here when we arrive, and three guys camped nearby at the junction of the A.T. and Benton MacKaye Trail. For a Friday, there’s a lot of action on both trails today. We see a number of thru-hikers, and a number of larger groups that are day hiking.
But once we break off on the B.M.T., the crowds diminish and we walk to our campsite without seeing a soul. It’s nearly 5:30pm when we arrive and there’s a group of four that are searching for lost items from the Army Rangers that train in this area. They spot a water cache down the hill and are convinced the Rangers are training later tonight.
With the sun dropping in the sky, Ira and I walk back down the mountain to get water while Rob and Ken collect firewood with the kids. It’s been in the 60’s today, but it’s due to drop in to the 30’s after dark. So a campfire is a must – and after we pitch our tents we start cooking a late dinner around 8pm.
The kids are showing no interest in sacking out after dinner, but a brief rain shower has them heading for the tents at 10pm. By now, it’s getting cold – especially away from the campfire. Time to “mummy” up.
And the dog is tired too, but not cold enough to zip up in his sleeping bag – at least yet. He’s content to sack out on top of mine!
But after a couple of rain bursts, it passes and the adults return to the campfire at a lower decibel level. We hang out while the kids sack out … and we pay for it in the morning. They are up early!
So after a quick breakfast, we are packed up and on the trail by 10:30am. Many of the kids have soccer and baseball games today – or we would have hung out longer.
And as we hit the trail – we find out that Friday night was the right night to be on the B.M.T. There is a 68 mile trail run right through our campsite this morning and many athletes and their supporters are in the area as we hike out. There are also a lot of day hikers and backpackers on the A.T. and it’s the busiest that I’ve ever seen it in this area. I feel fortunate that we had the last 14 hours with a campsite and the B.M.T. to ourselves.
In Episode 21 of the N2Backpacking podcast series, I speak with JD (aka Trail Hard) about his passion for hiking and backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – the most visited in the United States.
On the show, we discuss his quest for a third map in the “Smokies” – or the completion of every trail in the Park. While a “map” is technically ~900 miles, a hiker walks roughly 1500 miles to complete it. And JD is on his third map – dang! Fewer than 400 can even claim one!
So he definitely knows the Park and JD offers up some of his favorite trails, vistas, campsites, and hidden treasures in the Smokies . He also shares some weather, wildlife, and comaraderie in the backcountry and gives some tips to those that are out for a day, weekend, or multi-day trip in the Park.
Subject: Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Interviewees: JD (Trail Hard)
Interview Date: February 4, 2014
Download Now: Great Smoky Mountain National Park (WMA format 54.5 Meg);
Great Smoky Mountain National Park (MP3 format 70.0 Meg)
You can follow or subscribe to this podcast if you click here (via Blubrry, Facebook, Google+, iGoogle, iTunes, RSS, Twitter, Stitcher, Yahoo, Zune). Or click this link for a complete list of N2Backpacking podcasts.