Sunday, April 27, 2014

Springer Mountain Hike

Another short adventure with a co-worker in conjunction with a work trip. This time we picked a roughly 20 mile hike to Springer Mountain to spend a night up there. We were lucky to get flight that arrived 9:30am at the Atlanta airport which gave us plenty of time to do the hike on the same day.

Steps by the Amcalola Falls

The hike starts from the Amicalola Falls State Park where we paid $5 to enter and park overnight. For the overnight parking and hike we had to register at the visitor center. At first the lady there thought we would be going to the Hike Inn and suggested for us to park at the upper parking lot. Once she figured out that we were "section hikers" she corrected herself and told us to park right across the visitor center. With that we got to hike up the 600+ steps by the beautiful falls which turned out to be the most strenuous section of the whole hike. I guess this is a privilege that the Hike Inn guests don't get to enjoy.

Hike Inn & Appalachian Approach / Springer Mountain trail sign


Once above the falls, by the upper parking lot, the real trail began. Winding through the foresty hills up and down, the trail takes one up another 2000 feet until one arrives on top of Springer Mountain. Most of the view from Sprinter mountain is blocked by trees except for a bolder area to the south-west.

Panoramic view from Springer Mountain

Appalachian Trail plaque

Springer Mountain peak

Several hikers watched with us the sunset but left us alone for the night, either hiking back to the Springer shelter or the trail head north of Springer Mountain. With the gorgeous weather we decided to sleep under the stars and forgo our tents.

Sunset on Springer Mountain

Open sky from where we slept

Campsite in the dawn

After breakfast and some dilly dallying we started our hike back via the Len Foote Hike Inn, stopping by for some delicious homemade deserts. One of the staff gave us some expert advice on adjusting our backpacks as well. Surprisingly there wasn't anything really to improve on my pack. At the Hike Inn we also break down and finally weighted our packs at one of the scales that seem to be made available everywhere. Mine came to 30lbs, 10 less than I was guessing. Still I don't see a real reason to weight a pack.


Stairs by Amcalola Falls

Interactive route map

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hotel Rumorosa

So this year will have no major trip in store but lots of smaller adventures.  For the fall I'll have two more lined up.  I'll be tagging along with one of my wife's work trip to Bostimore (not Boston but Baltimore, sorry insider joke).  Using her hotel I'll do bike rides with my folder around Baltimore and at least a day in DC.  It'll be the first time for me in Baltimore and the Capitol City.

My second adventure will be far less urban, the plan is to bike from San Diego via Tecate and Mexicali to Calexico.  Then back to San Diego with the Greyhound bus.  Yes, that's Mexico, another first for me.  The route will have several exciting and challenging features.  For one there is the 4000 feet mountain range I'll be gradually climbing up and quickly descending.  Sweetened with a desert crossing.  But the different culture and the language, which I don't speak, will certainly be the most "adventurous" part of this trip.  Of course I'll keep this plan somewhat flexible, especially since I'll be on the road late November and snow is not unheard of in that part of Mexico.

I'll leave you with a the only two references of Hotel Rumorosa in the world wide web.  That is the only hotel between Tecate and Mexicali.  I guess I'll better take my tent along. ;)

Did you see the hotel in the video?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

4th of July Ride

A quick decision was made to go on a bike ride over the extended 4th of July weekend.  I found a nice route to the two Boone County campgrounds that would keep the riding fairly short and enable us to do a loop from our home.  We didn't get packing until late Wednesday and had to do the final packing on Thursday. But with only 20 miles for the first day starting a little late didn't cause any issues.  Half way we stopped in Slater to eat lunch before continuing on to Madrid on the High Trestle Trail.  The night we spend at the Swede county park.

Swede Park, no worries about tent sites.

Our worries about having difficulties to find a open campsite was not justified.  The park had 10 tent spots that were nicely separated from the RVs and none were taken when we arrived.  Later that night only one other tent campers came.  Swede Park had a nice bathroom/shower facilities, great tasting water and some nice hiking trail in the woods to a prairie grass meadow.

Oskar walking along the prairie grass trail.

Heidi enjoying the flowers.

Oskar at the camp fire

The second day we rode back a short stretch to Madrid to get on the High Trestle Trail and cross the High Trestle bridge.  Being spoiled from the day before, we again ate lunch at a restaurant in Woodward and had another nice cold beer.

Heidi studying birds.

Family photo on the High Trestle bridge.

After Woodward we left the well traveled bike trail and headed north on rural highways. Although not having to cross the Des Moines river again, the road dipped down at Seven Oaks to the river and we had to ride up a steep hill. A killer moment for Melissa having to haul Heidi on the trail-a-bike up the hill in the afternoon heat.

Heidi and Mama riding on a rural Iowa highway.

Heidi playing with a cat while we rest after a monster hill.

Again at Don William county park there was no issue finding a tent spots. After setting up the tent we went to the near by beach and took a long refreshing swim in it.  The perfect way to end a day of 35 miles.

Impromptu game with shirts and tree nuts.
No need to buy toss games.

4th of July fun with sparklers.

For our way back we decided for the route through Boone.  Although part of that route is well known to us we decided for this instead of going north to E18 and having to battle the south wind for a long stretch later in the day.  In Boone we got to watch the Scenic Valley Railroad getting ready their trains for the day's rides.  The kids got a personal  tour of the caboose and a demonstration of the railroad switch.

Heidi and Oskar inside the caboose of the Boone Scenic Valley Railroad.

Demonstration of the railroad switch.

Heidi getting on after a short rest.

Finally just a quick update on the Garmin Oregon 450 handheld GPS.  In the past I've been using it with the display constantly on.  So regular batteries only lasted about eight hour, not quite a full day.  Because of this I often use the more expensive lithium batteries. I don't want to carry a whole bag of AA batteries with me when hiking.  This trip though I used the setting that turns off the display after one minute.  One set of regular (alkali) batteries lasted me for the whole trip, although the display light was disabled due to low battery power on the last day.  The cost though is that the display is mostly off and I wasn't able to take a quick glance to see how fast I was going without having to touch the screen.