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Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Blood Mountain - Trip Report on 04/25/2010 18:56:12 MDT Print View

Time has been an issue as of late. I've been trying to plan a trip, but things keep getting in the way. I had planned a trip to Southern California, but my work schedule prevented that as well.

Enough of Atlanta. It was time to clear the mind. Only time for an overnight trip. No planning, no preparation. I just jumped in the car and went. I knew I could find a place to lay my head up in Northern Georgia. The weather is nice this time of year.

My first stop was Starbucks. I needed more Via. I was out, and I wanted coffee. :D $10.69 for 12 packs of instant coffee. A little on the steep side, but worth it!

Catastrophe! In my haste, I left a very important piece of gear behind... my quilt. I was over an hour from home. I thought the trip was over before it even began. Plan B, Wal-Mart. I used my trusty iPhone to find the closest Wal-Mart. Dahlonega, GA. Only a slight diversion to my intended destination of Mountain Crossings at Walasi-yi. Once I arrived I was surrounded by a brand name that made my skin crawl. Coleman! :D All I can see is... 4lbs, 3lbs, 2lbs. Apparently Coleman doesn't do UL. 2lbs it is. I begrudgingly dragged the 2lbs of Coleman's synthetic masterpiece to the checkout counter. $64.19 later and the trip was saved. $84.19 total because I got cash back. There were kids at the front door doing a food drive. I can't say no to kids. It's my weakness. Back on the road.

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I enjoyed the ride up the mountain to Mountain Crossings. Lots of curvy roads to go fast on. :D The weather couldn't have been better. Little did I know, I should have checked the forecast. Like I said, I just jumped in the car and went. No excuses. I arrived just a few minutes prior to closing. I spoke with one of the employees about where a guy could find a place to park. They suggested I drive north 4/10 of a mile where free parking exists for a quick 2 mile hike up Blood Mountain.

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It was close to 6:30pm EST at this point. I knew I hadn't much time before dark. Only two miles and 1800 feet of elevation gain. I knew I had enough time. I made my way to the top. The weather was amazing. Just me and nature. No Atlanta, no distractions. I'm always reminded as to why I love this.

Half way up, I came across a fellow hiker. Believe it or not, he was carrying the LuxuryLite Hiking Staff that transforms into a spear/knife. LOL I had never seen it in real life before. He was also carrying a Miami vice style shoulder rig with two guns, one under each arm. :D Nice guy.

Approximately thirty minutes from beginning my hike, I had reached the top. Short and sweet. The views were amazing.

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After reaching the top, I had about two hours to get things set up before dark. I deployed my MLD Grace Solo Cuben Tarp. It was windy, so I set it up for storm conditions with a low pitch. My GG LT4s' set at the lowest setting. I had a hard time finding solid ground for my Ti Shepherd hooks to take hold. A little time and a little effort, and I had a hold that I could trust. Next came the MLD Superlite bivy. Lastly, the monstrosity. The Coleman sleeping bag. I found myself looking around as I pulled it out. I didn't want anyone to see. How embarrassing! :D I quickly shoved it inside my bivy. I was safe... no one had seen it. :D

Dinner was a probar, and a hot cup of coffee that I boiled up in my Ti-Tri. Yum. Glad I made that stop at Starbucks.

The winds continued to pick up, clouds were rolling in. The temperature was dropping, and I knew I was going to be in for a stormy night. Excellent. I sleep better in the rain. Time for dessert. I had packed a Maker's Mark cigar. It was dark, so I grabbed my Photon Freedom Micro and made my way to the overlook. Here are a few photos I found online to show the Shelter and overlook. It was too dark to take photos of my own.

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I climbed up to the top, laid down and enjoyed my cigar. No stars, but the moon shined through the clouds from time to time. It was an enchanting evening. The rain began to fall.

By 10pm it was time to retire for the evening. I really hate Coleman. How pretentious i've become. :D But it did save the trip, so I'll deal with it. I enjoyed the sound of rain against cuben and dozed off. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

I was awoken by thunder at 3am. The winds were howling. 40mph gusts were testing the shepherd hook's hold. I checked the stakes and everything was holding. It was pouring down rain, I was dry. Back to bed.

I awoke again at 7:30am. The rain was still coming down, but for the most part things had died down. I donned my Rab Momentum Jacket and began to break camp. First things first... coffee. :D Water was on the boil and camp was broken. I noticed my tarp had taken a little damage. A small tear near the ridge line grommet. Nothing major. I'll also point out that I never seam sealed the tarp. It never leaked. Even after hours of hard rain. I enjoyed my coffee and another probar. It was time to head back down.

No way to take pictures this morning. Visibility was 0/0. It was difficult to even find the trail. All packed up and ready to go, I adjusted my trekking poles for descent. Catastrophe! I couldn't get one of my LT4 poles to lock! I tried everything. Not a good thing for a guy with a bad left knee. This was my first time using them and I guess things happen. I'll have to call GG on Monday to get a replacement.

I made my way down and back to the car. What a fun trip. It was short, but it was nice to get away even for just one night. I drove back towards Atlanta, and made just one last top. Danny's Restaurant in Dahlonega, GA‎ for a hearty breakfast. No better way than to end a trip.

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Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Blood Mountain - Trip Report on 04/25/2010 19:48:49 MDT Print View

Way to go.
Doesn't have to be perfect.
Just has to be out there.

Thanks.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Re: Blood Mountain - Trip Report on 04/25/2010 19:56:34 MDT Print View

+1 Greg.

I'll admit that I even sneak out in the backyard every now & then for the quickest of all overnighters!!! Sometimes I just HAVE to sleep outside.

Sorry about the poles, though. GG will make it right.

Todd

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Blood Mountain - Trip Report on 04/25/2010 20:08:14 MDT Print View

"I couldn't get one of my LT4 poles to lock!"

Were your poles upside down while supporting the tarp? In the rain.

Take them apart, dry the inside of the top, make sure the expander spins freely on the stud, hand tighten a bit - to the point you can just barely get the top half on, then slowly twist and push, confirming you still have traction as the end of the pole gets past the expander. There is a diameter difference that confuses the issue.

If you lose traction at that point, pull them apart, hand tighten again and repeat. I twist all the way down.

Occasionally mine are a PITA, even when dry. No rhyme or reason.

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Rain / LT4 on 04/26/2010 08:05:22 MDT Print View

Were your poles upside down while supporting the tarp? In the rain.

Yes, I was in fact doing that. I took the pole apart and shook out all of the water I could. I also tried adjusting the tensioner in various positions. It was spinning freely. It would just never take hold. I must have spent 15 minutes on it. I'll try it again before I make the call to GG.

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Re: Re: Re: Blood Mountain - Trip Report on 04/26/2010 08:06:26 MDT Print View

I'll admit that I even sneak out in the backyard every now & then for the quickest of all overnighters!!! Sometimes I just HAVE to sleep outside.

Haha! That's awesome. I would do that too if I didn't live in Atlanta. I might get killed. :D

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Rain / LT4 on 04/26/2010 08:10:32 MDT Print View

Do you have the little orange O-rings that's supposed to keep the water out?

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Re: Re: Rain / LT4 on 04/26/2010 08:11:53 MDT Print View

Do you have the little orange O-rings that's supposed to keep the water out?


Yep. And the optional baskets.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Rain / LT4 on 04/26/2010 08:36:06 MDT Print View

Nice. I have a BPL Nano tarp, bigger than the MLD Solo Grace, that I've yet to take out in the rain. I'm eager and anxious about testing it in wet conditions. Seeing that you made a slightly smaller tarp work with a bivy in difficult conditions gives me some confidence.

I don't have time or money for anything more than 24 hr trips right now either. Overnighters are really nice though. I can watch an EPL game Saturday morning, hit the trail by 1pm, hike for 6-7 hrs, and be back with time to get some to-do's done on Sunday night.

I think I remember a Mike C! 24 hr trip report where he mistook his down jacket for his quilt and ended up leaving his quilt behind, so it happens to everyone.

As far as the LT4's, mine locked okay at home, and then the first time I got them on the trail I couldn't get either to lock, just twisted and twisted. I thought at first it might be the cold affecting the rubber expander, but it was only 40 degrees, not that bad.

I ended up pulling them apart, and fussing with the position of the rubber expander similar to what Greg described, and got them to lock in fine.

Edited by jrmacd on 04/26/2010 08:37:40 MDT.

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
LT4 Fix on 04/26/2010 08:47:48 MDT Print View

I just took them out of my car. Tried to get the problematic one to lock. Would not lock. Took them apart again. Still a little wet. Dried off the lock with a paper towel, tried it again and success! :D Looks like they just don't like the water. That's a shame cause my Leki poles had no problem with water. Of course they weighed twice as much as well. It's a trade off I suppose. I'll try these for a while, but I might eventually switch back to Leki. I like the grips a little better and they seem to be sturdier. My LT4 poles flexed a lot with my weight of 185lbs.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: LT4 Fix on 04/26/2010 11:19:02 MDT Print View

Those o-rings look like they need to be placed on the thick part of the lower pole in order to get them to "seal." I believe you said you had the poles completely retracted so the o-ring was on the tapered section and not doing much good. If you talk with GG about this can you keep us updated?

PS. Tries out my new LT4 on the AT approach trail to Long creek falls and back on Sunday. They were sweet!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: LT4 on 04/26/2010 13:29:57 MDT Print View

Juston:

Great write up! Gripping, thought I was right there with you! Nice pics too.

Hey, was the Coleman bag lined with cotton?

Also, I'm disappointed with your LT4 experience. Truth be told, I actually prefer the Ti Goat poles -- lighter and for me, the foam grip was much more comfy to use than the slightly ill-fitting "one size fits all" LT4 grip. I ONLY swapped my Goat poles because their expanders wouldn't catch and grip sometimes. Now, it looks like I have made the switch only to be facing the same potential problem! :(

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Give it a shot... on 04/26/2010 13:56:43 MDT Print View

Ben,

I wouldn't give up on them just yet. Give them a fair chance. If it were just the one problem for me, I would keep on trying them for a while longer. I quick wipe with a paper towel and they were back in business. A quick fix in the field. My biggest complaints were the grip, and durability. I'm just a little heavy for them. I was just waiting for it to break on me. The flex was pretty severe. You weigh much less than I do... should be okay for that concern.

Juston

ETA - The bag was not cotton lined. 100% synthetic liner and shell. The bag did keep my plenty warm though. It did the job. I'll be donating the bag to someone in need.

Edited by Junction on 04/26/2010 13:58:43 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Give it a shot... on 04/26/2010 14:08:14 MDT Print View

Thanks, Juston.

I will give the LT4's plenty of chances simply because I no longer have the Ti Goat poles anymore (oh, how I wish I could replace my LT4 cork grips with the elegant Goat grips instead). Good to know that a quick wipe dry put the LT4's right back in business.

Kyle Crawford
(getupandgo) - F

Locale: SouthEast
Nice on 04/26/2010 23:21:57 MDT Print View

Great Trip Report! Love Blood Mountain. Looks like you had a blast.

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
American Breakfast on 04/27/2010 06:13:19 MDT Print View

Ben,

Just so you know, it was an American Breakfast. :D

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: American Breakfast on 04/27/2010 10:22:52 MDT Print View

Eggs, bacon, potatoes, the works? :)

Mike Feldman
(MikeF) - M

Locale: SE USA
Blood Mountain on 04/29/2010 10:39:13 MDT Print View

Good report of area am familar with.. Have done a couple one nighters there on way to trips in NC/SC where I hike around and below Blood Mountain on the blue blazed trail( name escape's me) then at Slaughter gap pick up AT up over Blood Mountain. I camp a nite in TT Rainbow near the Woods Hole shelter, or campsites on back side of blood Mt. 1/4 to 1/2 mile below summit....I have forgotten an item like you did. 2 years ago got to Atlanta on way to N. GA AT 3 nighter( from Pensacola, Fl.)realized had forgotten my trail runners. As I pulled into REI called wife who was ha suspicious I had forgotten shoes. Well Inov. 295s were on sale, so new shoes..