3 Days to GO!!

3 Days to Go

OH MY  GOB  its  Saturday  and  I fly out Monday  where  have  those  month  gone .
It’s  been a long time coming  but  it’s  now  here

I  have  Georgia  on  my mind   , sing up every  one . And you Ray


I  repacked my   pack  for  the  last  time , Yes  it’s  all in there , at  last  I  can   put  it into  its  own  bag   or “Transporter”  as  Osprey  call them.
My Bounce  box  is  packed  and  I have  a cheap  suitcase  to  put  it in , I’m hoping that I can be  able  to  get that on as  hand  luggage  otherwise , it’s a few more shillings to  put it in the hold,
I  need  to check  my    locations  ,  where  I am  sending  my  bounce   and  resupply points  for the first  weeks  and then i  may  relax ..

Sunday  I  can  chill,   have  many  hugs  with  my  Dog  Taylor, who  I will  miss dreadfully , even when the bugger eats  my  dinner   (fucker!!!)
He knows something is amiss   as has not left my side, Bless.
I have Checked my  flights  I get in around 5pm    I estimate an hour  to  clear Immigration  then it’s an hour on the train  to  North springs

I will  need a ride, Lift  or  Taxi  to my Hotel  in Dahlonega  from North springs  , But i will worry about that later.
Once in Dahlonega , I plan to have a chill out  day  ha ha , That means  shopping  and the post  office  and then to the trail  the next  day

Next post From Atlanta    Whoop


My  Pack  in its  Transporter



Getting the Fidgits

Beginning to get fidgety now, I’m not one for waiting around, I just want to set foot on the trail.
I must admit I have been looking at a few hikers blogs, mainly their first few days. I really like a hiker called Amanda Bess, what I like is her pure honesty, from talking about taking a dump to working out what day it is by checking her birth control pills, She is such a Cheerful person which i love

It was whilst watching one of her videos I heard the expression “Snot Rocket “!
I thought I knew what it meant but googled it just to be sure.
( Yes it is as I thought.)
It’s when you hold a nostril and blow sending a jet of snot out of the open side then  repeat with the other side… This really made me laugh. I have done this many times when I hiked in the past but didn’t think that it had a name and in deed there are several YouTube videos showing you how to perfect such process.


My  pack  is  ready, it just  needs hoisting onto my  back  and  for  me  to  begin my  adventure . I am so stoked , not long to go now  Whoop


A frustrating day,

20 days to go

Today has been a frustrating day,

I am planning to take my Samsung S7  phone with me , But  trying to  get  the correct information regarding  US sims  cards  is  driving me  nuts .
Before I brought this phone, I had long conversations with Samsung UK about being able to use it on a CDMA network. (It is what Verizon use in the US)
They  assured me  that if it was unlocked and had  been used in the UK  for at  least  48  hours  then it should  work, I also  checked with Samsung USA  and  they said  the same
However, Verizon the network that I was hoping to use say NO!

However, I cannot find anyone to confirm this,

It’s  all about   coverage , as I  used  AT&T  when I hiked  the PCT  and  they were  worse than useless.  So maybe I will sprint or T-Mobile …. Although I could buy  a cheap  compatible  phone and  hot spot it to my  current  phone ..

Oh  well there’s  no  point worrying now until I  fly  in …

What  else have I been  doing ,  mainly avoiding  gear  shops.
But  I have  packed and  unpacked  my  pack,   and  I am happy  with  what I am carrying.
I have several extra bits of clothing, which I may shed, when I have a week or two under my belt.
I am planning to take a bounce box  , but I am now  having reservations
On the Pacific Crest Trail it was a necessity , but  that isn’t the case on the AT,


I have spent the day going through my plans

As I said, I am sending a bounce box that contains spare gear including two new pairs of shoes…
I plan to send it to Franklin  , this  will be  my shake down, so any items of kit I no longer need  I will place  in the box  or  grab  an item  from it  if needed.
I will then bounce my Box to  Damascus  mile 469,  This  is when I may require new  shoes , again if  I don’t need  I  will bounce  it  on to Harpers ferry,
Later  if I change my mind I can then get  it back  or delivered to another location .
I have planned   4  bounces  after  that  I  may  not  need  it. Alternatively, I  may have abandoned it before the fourth bounce.

Proposed Bounce Box Locations

First Bounce, Franklin, This will be my shake down. Miles 118

Second Bounce, Damascus, Replace shoes. Mile 469

Third Bounce, Harpers Ferry, Replace shoes. Mile 1019

Fourth Bounce, Great Barrington, Possibly last bounce. Mile 1520


After flying  in to Atlanta  I  plan to  catch  the Marta  which  is a light railway. This will take me to North springs that should reduce my costs of getting to Dahlonega
From here to Dahlonega  is  still TBC, the  Uber seems a good choice, maybe I can split a ride  with someone  when I get  there !
I hope to get to my Hotel around 8pm, grab some dinner and a beer and get a good night sleep,
In the morning I plan to  find a phone shop  and   get a US sim,  I would like to use Verizon  as  this  company seem to  offer the best coverage, so this will be my first choice.

Next  will be a visit to Walmart, to buy  food  for  the first few days that I am  on trial before heading back my hotel  to  decant   into  zip locks and loose  the packaging .
Finally to the post office,  to  send  my  bounce  box  and   maps  to various  locations up the trail
Once back at my hotel I will look at  possible  rides  to  the  trail  for the morning

And  relax !!!!
In the morning  my adventure will begin !!

Food Drops

From my research, it is recommended to send food drops to the following locations

Nantahala Outdoor  centre (the NOC)  mile 137
Fontana,  mile 164,
Bland VA mile 587
Harpers Ferry mile 1019
Caratunk mile 2034
Monson  mile 2070

From Franklin  I will send 3 days to the NOC  and 4 days  to Fontana
The  rest  I will  decide  as I get nearer  to  those  other Towns

Expensive, exciting, exhilarating



The Appalachian Trail has moved a step closer


Flight to Atlanta   booked, I am flying in  on the 9th April,


Hotel in Dahlonega Booked


Hiking Insurance   Paid


This may be optional for some people but maybe I am older and wiser

I am hiking in the elements for  up to six  months , hopefully  I  will make  it without incident.
But in the event of an issue I am covered, 5 million for hospitalisation , Repatriations and of course   Search & rescue, again it’s something I hope never to use

From the airport i plan to grab the Marta to North springs.Marta

This  is as far as my planning goes, as I need to get to my hotel in Dahlonega from this station. I will ponder than once I  am on the train.

What am I brining?

I  am  bringing  my  Pack  with all my  gear  in  plus my bounce box

I am bringing a bounce box as I am from the  UK so  don’t have the luxury  of  help  in the US. I  will use it  until  I no longer need  it . Yes I could buy these items  in the US  But as the contents of my  box were acquired Free  I  will use  it.
To make  my box  cost effective I will use Post offices, again these can be a pain due to their opening hours. But then if I  do not need anything  I will not  have to pay again.

My Bounce box is a 9 litre Tough box containing

Two pairs of trail runners
Spare head torch & battery
few treats
spare Clothes/ socks
my transporter (my bags, bag)

Counting down  the  days excitedly


Counting Down


The days seem to be whizzing by and my proposed start date is getting ever nearer
I am still aiming for April 10th -/+

I keep looking at my pack, unpacking and packing it. I know so much more now after completing my 2014 hike of the PCT, but I still have reservations.
Most of them are to do with my fitness and weight Oh dear!!

I plan to hike the Approach trail, an 8-mile trail. In the scope of 2,189 miles, 8 miles is a mere drop in the bucket.  Approximately 50% of starting thru-hikers begin their hike at Amicalola Falls State Park and walk the arduous 8-mile approach trail before their official white blaze adventure even begins

I am told that by hiking this trail   you get an accurate picture of what the Appalachian Trail is “you’ll simply be walking through the woods.”
But it’s hard the first mile is an 800-foot elevation increase up 604 stairs.
But I will arrive with a positive attitude and belief that hiking the approach trail will be a benefit to me with a no regrets
For most of us, this adventure is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Take advantage! Embrace it all…the natural beauty, the forest silence, the slow pace of using your legs as your transportation and embrace the parts that suck too.

Remember that all moments are part of the journey. I am not in a race, so I will take my time to get my hiking legs (and fitness) and the time to get to know myself as a hiker

You begin your journey at Amicalola Falls State Park famous archway
This beautiful memorable starting point photo. It also made its way into Bill Bryson’s movie, A Walk in the Woods. Robert Redford posed here!



I am yet to book my flights, which I will do shortly,
Flying into Atlanta  is straight forward, It’s  the flight back from Boston which I’m still pondering
Of course, it’s cheaper to buy a return, but then it’s a guesswork  on how many days will  it take me to  hike  the trail
It is  far  easier to slow down,  than it is to speed  up. And yes, flights can be moved but again that then cost money

I will worry about this later


I am independent   and so I like to get my self about   and to the trail, so I thought it would be easy to get from the airport to   the trail
There appear to be two main towns Gainesville and Dahlonega.   Gainesville has public transport but doesn’t appear to have all that I need,
The bigger town of Dahlonega does but does not have public transport which is brilliant.

My initial plan depending on the timing of my flight.

If my flight gets in late, I will  stay over in Atlanta
Get to Dahlonega  next day, Book into  hotel,
Resupply, food  gas, post  items up the trail get phone  sorted   Sleep  zzz
Next day  get  from hotel  to  the trail

Sounds easy doesn’t it, my initial response was put it on Face book.
But all I got was use the shuttle, Use the Shuttle, you should use the shuttle

But on contacting these guys they are not cheap   well not to me   They charge varying prices around the $150. Obviously if you split one that would be a better option.
There must be a better way but sometimes it’s better to just pay up and be done.

But not me, so after more googling I find that there is the MARTA which is a local rail system, I can take this to   North Springs. Hopefully I can get a ride or hitch to Dahlonega   from there .
Then someone recommends Uber  so that’s is interesting … well its certainly cheaper .
I may wait till I am on the train and then see what happens,


Well December has been and gone   and I am filled with anticipation and a little doubt
I am still shooting for late March early April,  that’s if I can go at all ,as I am still waiting for some personal stuff to be sorted.

My Pack sits in the spare room, its packed and ready to go,
It weighs in around 25lb I have never been a light hiker, but I am a warm and happy hiker. I always need to hike for a week to see how my gear behaves before giving my pack a shake down and bouncing gear ahead

Replacement gear

To be honest nothing is wrong with the gear that I hiked the PCT with, except my clothes as I dumped them all in Canada
But if I can get some shinny gear at a good price I will,
So, I wrote and pestered several gear suppliers and have been pleased with my haul so far , 40% off a camera, solar panel and new tent. I  now have a new Fly creek HV UL 3
I loved  the UL 3   when i hiked the PCT  so  i  am  excited  about  the HV

I have also swapped my faithful Exped Sim mat for a down mat , again there was nothing wrong with my Sim mat, except when I first went hiking I was a bit green and did not really know what I wanted, so it’s a little large. It’s a great mat, it  has never let me down on the Pct, but it’s just a little too bulky.
I think I drove the people mad at Exped as I wanted to try out all the current mats before I brought a new one . The problem is Exped seem quite picky who they sell too, and so I couldn’t find any local shops that stocked their products., the nearest being in Cambridge yes, its  a bit far from Oxford so I arranged to visit a relative, “killing 2 birds with 1 stone so to say “

The shop was called “Open Air”.  And wow, what a great shop, they hold a good range of hiking and outdoors gear and they knew their stuff   and so they  are not just

“Box shifters”

So, I would certainly recommend  a visit      https://www.openair.co.uk

Open Air  11, 12 & 15 Green Street, Cambridge, CB2 3JU

I like  how they left me to play with all the Mats at my leisure,until I  needed help . I was really interested in the SynMat UL7   or maybe the SynMat HL matt but instead just loved the Exped DownMat UL Winter, it’s may be over kill for my hike, but it ticks all my boxes,




Its Light   
It packs small  
Its smaller that my current pad 
easy to inflate 
Easy to pack 

The UL 7 came a close 2nd but it was still a tad noisy.(for me)

What I also like about Exped is there inflation system the “Snozzel Bag”
It comes with this pad and when not being used doubles as a lightweight stuff sack, another tick

So, a fruitful journey to Cambridge, this pad wasn’t cheap, but I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for,

Snozzel Bag

Once home I inflated it several times with the “snozzel Bag” as there is a knack and I like to think I have mastered it and now can inflate my pad with about two puffs with the snozzel.
I like this method as 1, no moisture enters you pad, 2, Easy & quick to inflate (great when you arrive hot sweaty and exhausted   at camp, Bonus!

Pocket Rocket,

Pocket Rocket2
again nothing wrong with my pocket rocket, but the Pocket Rocket all packs down even smaller and will now fit into my pot.


Solar Panel

Solar expedition

Sadly, I lent my last one to  my Son and it was never seen again. So, I have gone for the Solar Monkey Expedition, Unlike the adventure it does not have an internal battery.  It  charges your devices live.  I’m keen to  try  this  out

AT Planning

How do you go about   planning to hike the Appalachian Trail?

In my experience   DON’T …….. Okay  you have to do a bit

when I  came  out  to  hike the PCT  , I came  out  with reams of  paper spread sheets  that  I promptly  put  into the bin after the  first  week

So in No Particular Order

What will the weather be like?

Bad weather can completely ruin a long-distance walk – not to mention making it more dangerous – so make sure you know what the local weather conditions should be for the time of year, and prepare yourself accordingly

What maps and guidebooks do I need?

Maps are essential (as is a compass), There are several official guides  that  AT  hikers  take , Some  are  broken down  and  sent  up  the  trail  tso  your not carrying the whole guide , Also electronic  apps  for  smart phones are widely  used

Awol Guide

What distances do I need to walk, and over what terrain?

So what mileage can you do? Are you a seasoned hiker or green, The AT unlike the Pct. has straight ups rather than switchbacks, and so if you cruised doing 25s on the Pct.  you may  struggle to do 20’s

Below are three useful planners 

Northbound 12 miles per day

Northbound 15 miles per day

Northbound  18 Miles per day

With all these plans  they  ease  you in gently  so  you  get  your  hiking legs   slowly   and  so  don’t burn out by week 1 ,

Be flexible  when  using these plans ,
if  you   get  to camp early, THEN STOP !!
There is an urge to go on DON’T
Make camp let your body rest

What about rest days? 

Only you can know your limits, but it’s wise to build in too many rest days rather than too few. Rest days out in the countryside are always rewarding, but having to walk when you’re exhausted is another matter altogether.

Resting Hikers

Have I got the right equipment?

There are so many  pages and  blogs  of  what  Kit  to  take , should I  be Ultra-Light .
I wouldn’t advise being ultra-light unless you are a seasoned hiker, Otherwise this can be worse than being too heavy.
You want to be comfortable, warm and well fed not cold, miserable and hungry
but what you take is a personnel thing. The At is a long way  so  you will have plenty of time to  try  kit swap  out what doesn’t work  or  buy  what  works  well .


The AT  goes  through Many  towns  unlike the PCT  and  so  there is no need  to  carry  more  than  five  days  of  food  and  the  faster you hike  this  can  drop  to  four  days
But like many trails , your  main concern  will be water .

My Plans 

I will do a rough plan
concentrating on the first 2 weeks , and   resupply, Normally by  the second week you are in your stride(well almost)  you know what  you’re eating and know what mileage  you are comfortable  with .

I also   with do a spread sheet with the towns, and resupply points.
as  in coming from the UK, I like to use a bounce box  so  I will then guesstimate  where  I need to send  that  too,
I normally send  it  to a point around the 100  mile  mark,  this way  I  can swap any  kit  shake   down   etc. and too  a Post office , that way if I don’t need it  I’m not paying again . My next bounce point will be when I guesstimate my shoes will die    say around mile 600/700…
I then research  places  where I may   need to send  food drops, although  I believe the AT  isn’t  bad

So that’s my Draft plan,

where am I flying too?

The airport is normally fairly easy ,followed by where am I flying home from.
Then its  guess the trip duration ,Always  better  to allow  more  time as then you can change  your  flight  .

Where am I staying?

Hotel, Hotel, Trail Angel ,I like to unwind after my flight, resupply, chill, recheck my gear, Buy any last minute items, organize my Phone sim,

How do I get to the Trail?

is there a shuttle , bus train ? 

What shall I do in an emergency?

Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but it’s essential to have a plan in case of emergency. Do you have a mobile phone that works on the trail? If so, do you have the relevant number for the emergency services? It’s also important to leave your itinerary with someone you know, or the local park authorities, so they can track you down if you don’t check in on your return. Other things to take are an emergency bivvy bag, a whistle and a basic medical kit.


The best way to become a good walker is to go out there and walk.
There’s no better way to learn about what to do than by actually doing it.

AT Trail

The Appalachian Trail

After Hiking the PCT  in 2014  the  first  thing  that  I needed to  do  was to  get  home see my dog, closely followed by seeing my  kids , Once  I  had ticked those two boxes  it was time  to  get a job , earn some money and make my  bank account happy again,

Luckily, I found a job and was working again……………

But I missed the trail, the wide-open spaces and its beauty, but it wasn’t long till those fun times became distant memories, as I settled back into my nine to five and began to see my waistline expand.

The  Appalachian Trail  was always going to be my second hike, but sadly it comes down to money………….
The older you get, the harder it is to walk away from a job, and you worry about how the bills are going to get paid,

I worked hard  in my new job but  occasionally  my  mind would daydream  and  I  would  be  on the trail again . Maybe this company would give me a sabbatical?  That way I would have a job to come back to …
The months quickly passed turning into years,
I want to do another hike, but how,

My  last  hike was  supported by two of my children living in my house and  paying my bills,  Now it is  just me and my dog and who is going to look after him ?

I sighed deeply and watched more months pass by

October 2017

I  didn’t have a good day at  work and so  was  not in a good mood as I pulled my car  into my driveway, although a smile returned  as soon as I  opened  the door  to be  greeted  with  50 lb of excitable  Dog,
I quickly changed  and then Taylor and I headed out across the fields  with several tennis balls

Once home and armed with a cup of tea I began to look at the AT’s website.

How much will it cost?  , airfares , insurance and  Kit, well I  have the kit  several  items  could be replaced  but  the rest  is  fine . The AT  is  similar  to  the PCT  you  can do it on a shoe string  or you can spend thousands.  I want to be somewhere in the middle ..

Okay  let’s say  $5,000  ( £3,813)   Rounded up to 4K  plus airfares and insurance  Okay  that  will be  my  budget , (its a starting point)

I  don’t know  why  but  planning a hike makes  me  so  happy  I  have a budget  okay  I  haven’t any money  but I  have a budget in principal ,


I  don’t know  if  I will have the money  by  March 2018 or if I will be  able  to go
 But  that  is my target

I  then  went to get my  gear  from  the attic bringing down two large plastic  crates .
It was like Christmas as I sorted through my gear reminiscing on my fellow hikers and silly days.

It  all looked  good, I  only really need to replace some of my  clothes and  trail runners  everything else  should be good  to  go.

Oh my  pack  where’s my pack , I  came  back  from the US  with two backs my  osprey aether 70  and  my Exos 48, I tried both  but  preferred  the big and bulky  Aether, mainly because  it felt better on my back and  that I could load  from both ends .

It was like meeting an old long lost friend, but at arm’s length as this pack stunk,
Okay google what’s the best way to clean a pack!!!

10 minutes later I have stripped my back down, torso belt and shoulder straps removed, followed by the top pack and rain cover.

The torso and shoulder straps went in the washing machine, but for the pack it was bath time.

OH MY GOD  the colour  of the water, yes  it  really did  need a good  bath , after several rinses  I left  it  to  dry and  went  back  to see what  other  kit  may be  good .

I began a list of nice to haves

Personnel Location Beacon (PLB)
Solar Panel
New Tent
Trail runners
Pocket Rocket II


I did  not have a beacon or  other device  on the PCT, mainly because I ran out of cash
Some people use spots , but I just  wanted a PLB, Its  personal  choice, I’ve found in the past that  with bad cell coverage  the spots are  useless, leading  to  panic at  home  and false searches ,
But when they do work you are able to  send  messages with them. The PLB   once triggered I just  sends a signal  and so  you have no way of knowing  if  they  are  coming  to find  you
But as the saying goes HYOH,


I used an Olympus Tough 830 on the PCT, that far exceeded my expectations, but a shiny new one would be nice,

Solar panel

I used a solar monkey adventure on the PCT and it too performed brilliantly and was envied  by  many of my hiker friends , Sadly a son borrowed it and it was never seen again  so  I  need a replacement  I  want to  try  the Solar monkey expedition  its lighter and  unlike the adventurer  its water proof


I used a three man  Big Agnes fly creek Ul  and  this  is  the tent  I will use again, I’d  like a new  one .I  may see what  REI  can  offer when I get  there!!!

Trail Runners

I used   several  pairs   of  trail runners  but stuck with Solomon’s  XA Pro 3D’ s and  again that’s what I plan to  use . In fact  I  saw  some advertised  at  half  price  and  so  I  have brought three pairs , 2  which I  will keep in my  bounce box  till needed .


I loved my Pocket Rocket and plan to take it again. But MSR  have now released a new model  the Pocket Rocket II  so if  I  can get one  at a discounted price then that’s what I will bring. It is based on the micro   and is small so it will actually fit in my pot or cup,

Day 119 Resupply

11 August
I woke early and wandered down into town to use the facilities then got a drink from the garage before heading.  back  Big juice was still asleep. So I began sorting through my gear .
Eventually strange bird woke and began cooking breakfast on a electric grill .He made hash browns and pancakes which were delicious especially coverd in maple syrup
Eventually Big sauce emerged well we were going for breakfast at 8am it was now almost 11.
I went to the post office with my tent and gear thst I had mailed at the beginning of the trail plus all my spare kit.the cost was $ 100 bucks to Canada omg !!!
I walked back with several postal boxes Big sauce was getting ready to head out and the temperature was beging to rise.
I built the boxes and filled them with food for the four towns. Strange bird was heading to walmart with Lion King did I want to come? Well yes  but I also  wanted to get my tesupply boxes posted. So off to the post office agsin the box to Canada  $50 bucks the others $40..All done so then to the store to grab some bits for lunch .Whilst in the store I bump into timberline  and his wife.we chatted for a while then I headed back to shreks to chill and eat lunch its almost a 100°
Im heading out tomorrow early. Its too hot and forecast storms for later
I sat  in the shade and relaxed  drinking my beer and munching my sandwich. Then I got an email from Davinchi he was in town so I went to find him for  for a beer.We sat by the river and chilled watching the boats
Before heading home


A Beer with my Mate Da Vinchi




My Resupply for Washington