We had a packed house here at Shelter for Kat Dalager's Photo Marketing Rehab. Four hours, three intermissions and not a soul left until the event was over. Thanks to Kat and all the great panelists who made it such an insightful event!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
We expect 150 photographers to stop in at our studio tonight for Kat Dalager's Photo Marketing Rehab, featuring 3 panels of photography and Ad industry luminaries.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Adfed put on another great event at EPIC last Friday. I made it in the book again, this time with the Red Dress promo I shot in Paris last summer.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Our last day on the trail. We hike past bare, lichen covered trees.
It looks like we will be ending the trip with the same weather we started with as the clouds begin to roll in.
We had the trail to ourselves between Clyde Smith Shelter and the Iron Mountain Gap.
A tree finds it's way around some rock.
We just wrapped up our trip just before the next round of rain came through.
My traveling companions. My brother-in-law J.R., who got me started on marathons and mountain climbing, and my father-in-law Drew, who got me hooked on hiking with trips through the Grand Canyon, the Camino de Santiago, and here for the second time, on the Appalachian Trail.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The geological marker for Roan High Knob Mountain.
Thinking about Avatar here.
The stands of trees on Roan High Knob Mountain are gorgeous.
This hunter, working with a large party and 15 or 16 dogs, was hunting bear. Hunting really isn't my deal, but as an omnivore I'm not really in a position to judge.
A random fireplace along the trail. There was an ill-fated hotel built nearby in 1884, but I don't know if this was related.
I met another thru hiker on this section. A typical greeting along the trail often includes a question. "You goin' all the way?" With 1800 miles behind him and 350 more to go, Man-Man from Salt Lake City, was going all the way.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Sunrise at Roaring Creek Valley as seen from the Overmountain Shelter.
The Overmountain Shelter was a barn built in the 70's and converted to an AT shelter and renovated in the 90's. Wind whips through it like a sieve. (It is beautiful though and even the mice are nice.)
We make our way to Roan High Knob and leave the fall colors behind as trees are largely bare by late October.
We get a splash of color as we approach Grassy Ridge.
A big stand of fir trees.
We met another thru-hiker at Roan High Knob Shelter. "Mismatch" is one of only four eighteen year old thru hikers on the AT this year.
At an altitude of 6200 feet, the Roan High Knob Shelter is the highest backcountry shelter on the entire 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail. In 1933, a fire tower and warden's cabin were built at the summit of Roan High Knob. Although the tower proved ineffective and did not last long (the cabin was renovated in 1980 and now serves as the Roan High Knob Shelter).
J.R. consults our AT book as he considers our options for tomorrow's hike.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Early morning on The Nolichucky River.
As we pass Apple House Shelter on our way to Overmountain Shelter we come across some more well placed (and much appreciated) steps created by the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club on this section of the AT.
Drew and J.R. take a break as we approach Hump Mountain.
Heading up Hump Mountain.
The view of Bradley Gap. This reminds me of my experience trying to photograph the Pyrenees, images fall so pathetically short of the experience. You really just have to be there.
Overmountain Shelter is the prettiest shelter I've seen on the AT.
The Overmountain Shelter at dusk.
The shelter sleeps 18. We had the whole place to ourselves.
Monday, November 7, 2011
High Rocks Overlook
Another morning in paradise.
Hiking clubs help maintain The AT. In North Carolina the AT is maintained by the Nantahala and Smoky Mountains Hiking Clubs. They cut trees that fall across the trail, make sure proper "blazes" are marked for the trail, water and shelters, and also add nice touches like occasionally creating steps along some pitches. We all really appreciated their efforts.
A beautiful tree defying gravity.
After 6 days on the trail, we were excited about the prospect of hitting Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky River Outfitters and put in a 17 mile day to do it. It may not look like much, but it was paradise. As soon as I walked onto the deck, Uncle Johnny offered me a beer, a Fat Tire no less! Any hikers who hit the hostel by 5PM get taken into town in the beat up white van you see, compliments of Uncle Johnny, to the only restaurant in town. It was a Mexican restaurant,a good one, and we gorged ourselves.
We also enjoyed the accomodations at Uncle Johnny's. This was like staying at the W compared to a slab of plywood in a shelter.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Beauty along the AT isn't a rarity of course, that's why you go. But broad sweeping vista's are more like punctiations in a really good book. The AT, after all, is really about hiking in the woods.
This is a more typical view of the AT.
Another view on the AT, a grid of trees framing a distant vista.
Located along the Appalachian Trail on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, Big Bald offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Smokies.
Some summits in the Great Smoky Mountains have grassy, open areas cald "Balds," mountain tops covered mainly by vegetation of native grasses occurring in areas where heavy forest growth would normally be expected. There is a lot of debate as to their origins; some claiming they are the result of grazing animals from Native Americans as well as early settlers, others believe that grassy balds of natural origins.
There are bears in the Smoky Mountains so hikers hang their food. It also keeps it away from mice and Raccoons.
Here are two thru-hikers we met at Big Bald Shelter, Shortfuse and dragonly. (As I mentioned earlier, thru-hikers are given trail names by fellow hikers.) Shortfuse was formerly a CFO of a lawfirm taking some time to off to reimagine her life. Dragonfly, and 18 year old highschool graduate is taking some time to consider her future. there are only four 18 year-old thru-hikers among the class of 2011 (about 250 people in total). Shortfuse and Dragonfly didn't begin on the trail together, but they formed a friendship along the way. With about 1900 miles under their belts, they are hoping to be done with the hike, and home for Thanksgiving.
Big Bald Shelter
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Flint Mountain Shelter in the early morning hours.
These two were apparently thru-hikers who came into camp late in the afternoon and bivied outside. (As happens with regularity, the Flint Mountain Shelter was full.) I don't know whether they had no tent, or just didn't bother putting one up. They were still asleep when we headed out.
This is usually the photo that keeps people from considering hiking the AT, the privy. It's all a matter of perspective really. I met two women who were thru-hikers. They had just entered North Carolina from Tennesse and were both genuinely excited about the prospect of finally having privies, (apparently a rare convenience to the north.)
As I mentioned, there are many sources for water along the A.T. This was one of the prettiest options. I treated my water with 2 iodine tablets per liter. My companions prefered Aquamira (Chlorine oxide), which is also effective if a bit like a science project. (It's an A + B solution that has to sit for 5 minutes in the cap before being used to treat the water for an additional 15 minutes.) They swear it tastes better and it is supposed to be better for you in the long run. To be fair, the iodine tablets do actually say "for emergencies only" on the bottle.
Another rare vista, this time on Frozen Knob.
Head lamps illuminate the Hogback Ridge Shelter as we settle in for the night.
A beautiful starscape as the clouds finally cleared out.
Friday, November 4, 2011
The tree tops are still encrusted in ice after 2 days of freezing temperatures.
A BIT ABOUT THRU-HIKERS AND TRAIL NAMES.
To this point in the trip we hadn't yet met a thru-hiker; someone taking on the entire 2200 mile trek from Mount Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Each year, 2000 - 3000 people attempt a thru-hike, only 200 - 300 make it the whole way. "Solo" (above) wasn't "going all the way" as they say, but with 1500 miles under his belt, he was close enough for me. Thru-hikers, or people like Solo who spend months hiking on the AT take trail names so they can keep in touch with people they have befriended along the way. It's a tricky business because you don't create your own trail name, it is bestowed upon you by other thru-hikers. The worst trail name I heard from the would-be AT thru-hiker class of 2011 was Dumb Ass. (He went by the acronym DA, and apparently dropped out along the way). Each shelter has a register where thru-hikers can leave messages for their friends. You might find an entry like, "Dragonfly. I'm resupplying in Irwin. I plan on staying a day or two. Hope to see you there! -Shortfuse." Section hikers like us who are only on for a couple weeks don't adopt trail names.
(Above) A few pages from a Shelter's register. The register is never fancy, usually just a spiral notebook kept in a ziplock bag, but it's seldom loose sheets of paper like the ones I found here at Flint Mountain Shelter.
While it was beautiful, I was hoping this was the last of the ice encrusted trees we'd be seeing this trip.
We came across this massive split rock along the trail.
The sun broke though the clouds as the day progressed and we were bathed in light as temperatures climbed into the 50's.
A happy sight for thru-hikers. Just 300 miles left until Springer Mountain.
We finished off the day with a warm fire.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
J.R. greets the day. (His expression doesn't appear to be one of delight. With temperatures in the 30's, it's much colder than we anticipated).
It's about a 7 mile hike from Little Laurel Shelter to Jerry's Cabin, it's cold, snowing, and windy. Exposed Ridgeline Trail, or Bad Weather Trail. Hmmm. Of course we picked Exposed Ridgeline Trail. Really, was there ever any doubt? (Slow learners).
There's lots of rhododendron along this stretch of the hike.
We ran into hunting dogs along the trail. Locals do a lot of bear hunting in the North Carolina - Tennessee area. Sometimes the dogs will follow you and spend the night near the shelters. I'm never really happy to see them because they beg for food, and also because their presence means there are bears in the area. The bears aren't too happy to see them either.
Of course, it was well worth being exposed to the elements. The remaining Fall colors merged with the snow and ice beautifully.
The top of the ridgeline.
The ice and snow created some beautiful scenery.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Before we hit the trail, let me tell you a little bit about blazes. The Appalachian Trail is marked using a system of "blazes" painted on trees, posts, and rocks. A single blaze, (like those in the image above), means you're on the A.T. There are some local variations, but generally each blaze is a white strip of paint 2 inches wide by 6 inches long painted at eye level (above the snow line). At any time during a hike on the AT, you should be able to see a blaze within 50 yards either in front of you or behind you.
Blazes are also used for additional information as shown in these images. The top left image indicates the trail turns left, the top middle means trail turns right. Rarely, you might see one blaze atop another. This isn't widely used, but it means caution, or heads up. Blue blazes lead to water or shelter.
We got a late start our first day on the trail, picking up a few last minute supplies from Bluff Mountain Outfitters in Hot Springs, North Carolina. Opportunuties to pass through towns for re-outfitting are limited on the Appalachian Trail, and we'll have to carry almost everything we need for the next five or six days until we decend to Uncle Johnny's Outfitters in the Nolichucky River Valley over 50 miles away. (With the exceptions of drought, water sources are typically plentuful with springs, and creeks every few miles along the trail.) Our route falls within the Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests. My pack weight with food and water was just under 30 pounds. My Canon 5DMKII with a 24-105 zoom lens and half a dozen CF cards added an additional 5 pounds. It began to rain almost immediately after we started.
J.R. takes a break during our 1500 foot ascent from Allen Gap to check his GPS.
Drew has hiked well over half of the Appalachian Trail. As usual the steep vertical doesn't slow him down.
The Little Laurel Shelter is pretty typical for the AT, it's open on one side, and sleeps 6. Fortunately, we arrive just a few minutes before it fills up. To keep weight down we don't hike with tents, so if there's no room in a shelter, we'll be spending the night under a plastic tarp slung over a rope between two trees. That's only happened to me once. I'm not a fan.
Another party with a dog trailing behind arrives and are visibly crest fallen that there's no room in the shelter. Luckily they had a tent which they put up quickly as the rain only got harder and temperatures dropped to the mid 30's. The dog ultimately made it into the tent as well.
People waste no time preparing a hot meal in the Shelter.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
I'm a city boy, and a couch potato who married into a family of hikers, runners, kayakers and climbers. It wasn't long before I was pulled into their adventures; climbing 5 mountains, running 14 marathons, hiking in the Grand Canyon, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and the Appalachian Trail. Last month, I had the good fortune to return to the Appalachian Trail for another section hike with two of them, my father-in-law, Drew and brother-in-law, J.R.
Cell phone coverage is sparse along the AT (thankfully), so blogging about the hike real time isn't possible. It's also a bad idea, since it would take you out of the moment and the best part of the hike is getting off grid for a while. For the next ten days, I'll blog about each section we hiked along the 100 mile stretch from Allen Gap, North Carolina to Apple House Shelter, Tennessee.
The Appalachian Trail (AT) is a 2,181 mile footpath in the Appalachian Mountains that spans 14 states in the eastern U.S. from Mount Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia. The idea of a "Super Trail" along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains had been first officially proposed in 1921, but it wasn't until 1948 that the first hiker, World War II veteran Earl Shaffer, completed the entire length. It took him 5 months. As he tells it, he was "walking off the war." The AT is the most popular hiking trail in the world with over two million people hiking parts of it each year.