Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Training Ground

Like I said before, I chose Erwin for this hill. As you can see from the trail profile picture, southbound from the Nolichucky River it rises pretty steadily right from the road. The first step is up and every step after that is up for almost 2 miles. There are a few switch backs across this section, but I guess the trail builders got tired of that and gave it up toward the top. Just about the time you think you have crested the summit, there is what you hope is the last up looming in front of you. Of course, you can’t see the next one for the steepness of this one. Ah, the AT we know and love.
From the Nolichucky River left to the top of Temple Hill

The trail is in great shape here. It is spring, after all, and the maintainers in every trail club are busy getting their sections in tip top shape for the onslaught of thru-hikers. On my first trip up this hill the tread way was in excellent condition with only about 5 or 6 blow downs across the trail in a 4 mile section. Later that first week, the maintainer came with his saw and removed most of those. Since then there has been another storm which resulted in a couple more blow downs, but I am confident he will be back, perhaps this weekend. Gene has a small folding saw which he takes when he is able to hike with me. He has cleared a couple of the really small things.
Up and up, then up some more

View of the river from the top
This hill has been a good workout for me. Always carrying a full pack, I sometimes just go to the top and then down. Other times I go out 3.5 miles to Temple Hill Gap then back. One day Gene and I went the other direction (northbound) from the river to Curley Maple Gap Shelter (4.2 miles from the river). This is a fabulous hike along the creek with a very gentle climb for the first 3.5 miles and hard push to the top in the last half mile. The reward for my efforts? Well this is early spring and there are no leaves on the trees so the views are spectacular.

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