Bellingham, WA
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2005 Adventures

AT Through The Great Smoky Mtn National Park
Tennessee/North Carolina
75 mile section of the Appalachian Trail (AT)
4-7 November, 2005

Appalachian Trail near Fontana Dam

Skeptical, but willing to try it. This summed up our pre-trip thinking on the 75 mile section of the Appalachian Trail through Great Smoky Mountain National Park we were about to hike in four days. What would we think of our hike through the “long, green tunnel”? How would the rodent-infested shelters be? And what would be the primary differences between the AT and the JMT?

Regardless of the answers to our questions, Brian was chomping at the bit to do some more hiking and backpacking after our great summer excursion. So, we dehydrated some dinners, bought a new ¾ length ultralight Thermarest, and laid out our equipment for the hike. Having planned to do the trip over my fall break, we realized we might need to adjust our plans when it snowed in the mountains the day before we were planning to leave. Additionally, the leaves had not even begun to change, an extremely unusual phenomenon in early November. So, we waited until the next weekend and left Athens for the hills of North Carolina at 5:00 a.m. on Friday. After about three hours of driving we arrived at Big Creek Ranger Station, the ending point of our upcoming hike, and waited for the Hike Inn shuttle driver, Jeff, to arrive and chauffeur us to Fontana Dam.

Full Story || Daily Stats || Photos || Map

Mandy's Wedding
Saratoga Springs, New York
14-17 October, 2005

The Gang: Moreau State Park

It was great to have all of the Sieber family together in one place for Mandy’s wedding in the fall! It had been quite some time since I’d seen a lot of my cousins and Brian had only met Mandy and Brett, so it was nice that everyone could attend. The wedding was top-notch, located in beautiful Saratoga Springs when all the leaves were changing color. On top of this, the historic casino, flowers, bridesmaids dresses, wedding cake, and reception hall were all beautiful. Having never attended a Jewish wedding it was also fun to experience a wedding much different than those we’ve attended in the past. In addition to the wedding, we also enjoyed visiting a state park in the area (Moreau State Park) and hiking through the vibrantly colorful forest. We also made it up to Lake George for a quick hike before our flight left on Monday.

Photos || Map

John Muir Trail Trek
Yosemite N.P. to Mt. Whitney - California
191 miles in 11 days
4-21 August, 2005

Shaen, Tracy, Molly, & Brian

Although Brian and I have done a lot of backpacking in the past, our trip this summer certainly topped the others we've done; not only was it significantly longer and tougher than other hiking trips we've been on, it also required a lot more preparation. Having read Ray Jardine's book on lightweight backpacking (see the links at the bottom), we decided we should try out some of his ideas. The problem with trying some of his ideas was that in order to truly lighten our load, we needed to reduce the weight and bulk of a lot of our equipment, not just one or two components. So, we set out on a summer-long sewing expedition. Brian sewed his backpack and our tarp, net-tent, and sleeping quilt, as well as a variety of ditty bags, clothing bags, and other storage bags. Since I was taking classes full time, I sewed only my backpack, but also did the majority of the food prep: chopping and dehydrating lots of dried fruit and meat for jerky, preparing dinners and often dehydrating components of them which would take too long to cook or would be too heavy, and packaging and weighing everything to be certain we would have enough. We finished preparing just in time and really enjoyed the new, lighter approach to exploring the back country.

Although the trek took a major portion of our vacation, we were also able to spend a few days in Bishop after we were finished. It was wonderful to see Brian's parents and spend some time with them and Tracy. We visited Rock Creek Lodge twice, each time enjoying the incredible homemade pies and the great hamburgers. We also drove up to Mammoth and enjoyed a great dinner at Bergers with an after dinner tour of Twin Lakes, which is where Ron and his family used to camp as kids. Chatting with Don and Paula across the street was also nice, as we haven't gotten to see them too much in recent visits. We also enjoyed getting together with Rick and Sharon to share our trip photos and find out what was going on in their lives. It was very nice to have a few days to relax and recoop after our hefty hiking trip before returning home! At the end of the trip, Tracy gave us a ride back down to LA, where we stayed with Brian's grandma and visited with his Aunt Wendy. Then we flew back to Athens, where our neighbor, Jesse, who always exemplifies true "southern hospitality" picked us up from the airport and brought us home. (He also mowed the lawn for us, meaning our yard was somewhat under control after being gone for over 2 weeks! How great is that??)

Trek Overview (pdf) || Daily Journal/Stats || Map
Ray Jardine Links: Ray Jardine || Beyond Backpacking || Brief Philosophy ('The Ray Way')

Boston, Massachusetts
12-14 February, 2005

Annabel & Molly

Only a year after our first trip to Boston, we headed back to get a taste of winter, enjoy the perks of the city and visit with friends. Fortunately, we decided to visit a good number of weeks after Boston's huge snow storm which literally shut the entire city down for almost a week. Witnessing the remnants of the storm much later, we were surprised at the incredible impact tons of snow must have on a city with no parking space and people everywhere. Jen's tales of her hikes to work in 3 feet of snow were quite entertaining. Because there was so much snow, she related, you were virtually walking through a tunnel of a sidewalk and woe to those who did not shovel their portion of the sidewalk and sent the pedestrian retracing her steps through the glimmering stacks in search of an exit. Most people walked on the road for many weeks because of this. Another interesting snippet, Boston has to truck their snow out of the city to a snow farm because there's no place to put it in the city. It was quite amazing to think about the ramifications of so much snow in such a metropolitan area. Perhaps the craziest part of the storm was the effect it had on the parking lot behind Jen's house. She took 2 hours to shovel out a spot for her car only to have her parking lot neighbor ram his snow bank into her newly shoveled cave. She assured us she boldly informed her neighbor that the snow would be moved and not by her.

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Bishop, CA
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Charleston, IL
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