SPRING HAS SPRUNG, TIME FOR A HIKE ON THE BENTON MACKAYE …

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.


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