Hiking the Appalachian Trail- Slackpacking

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Many guests who stay at our inn take day hikes on the Appalachian Trail. The trail starts at Amicalola Falls State Park which is about 40 minutes from the inn by car. A five-mile hike is required before reaching the official starting point of the trail. While you are at the park enjoy the falls as well.

North of the inn are two locations where the trail crosses the main highway. These areas are closer to Cedar House Inn. One is Woody Gap which has parking available. Park in the right parking lot and hike to Preacher’s Rock.  At Blood Mountain the trail also crosses the road. Mountain Crossing, a store with hiking supplies and gifts, is located near the road and trail area. Blood Mountain is the highest part of Lumpkin County and the trail is more strenuous. Many guests like to hike to the trail shelter.

A couple of weeks ago we had guests from Colorado who spent the week at our inn. The purpose of their trip was to hike the Georgia portion of the Appalachian Trail. They were not considered thru hikers but slack packers. Each morning they had breakfast at the inn and dropped their car off near where they would finish their trail hike that day. The Hiker Hostel would meet them at their car and shuttle them to the trail area where they were beginning the day hike. They hiked most of the Georgia portion of the trail using this method. Each evening they came back to the inn for a hot shower, Mary Beth’s cookies and chai tea.

Benefits of slack packing are many. No roughing  it on the trail carrying a heavy backpack in all kinds of weather. No freeze-dried dinners or oatmeal breakfasts. No sleeping on the hard ground. A unique way of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Book a room or yurt with us and try hiking the Appalachian Trail using slack packing. The Hiker Hostel is no longer in business but there are other parties that can pick you up and take you to your car. We have some names or you can check with Uber.

For more information about our inn visit Cedar House Inn & Yurts.

Building Permaculture Swales to Conserve Water

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We built a permaculture swale above the vegetable garden and blueberry bush area to capture the rain to prevent runoff and conserve the water for future use. Swales have been proven to retain water by forcing the rainwater into the Earth down to the impervious layer of soil. The water then travels under the surface and provides plant roots with needed irrigation. Such water can travel great distances and be stored for extended periods of time. Swales conserve valuable rainwater that normally runs down slopes and eventually ends up in driveways and storm sewers. They also help reduce evaporation of rainwater.

We built a  permaculture swale above the garden to capture water running down the hill from the north end of the property. The swale is approximately one foot deep and 16 inches wide. Swale depth can vary depending on slope of hill and soil type. For example we made the swale shallower but wider in areas with rock closer to the surface which made digging more difficult. The swale at the top of the hill provides water for the peach trees, blueberry bushes and concord grapes. Decomposed leaves are placed in the swale to help retain water. Wheat straw covers the leaves and swale berm to prohibit erosion.

Another smaller permaculture swale was dug at the bottom of the hill using the same technique. This swale catches additional water for the vegetable garden. We are considering the addition of strawberries on the berm portion of this swale since they have deep roots and will help stabilize the berm. Not to mention fresh strawberries in the future.

Additional swales will be built on the property in the future.

To see a video of our swales visit video.

Geoff Lawton is a renowned permaculturist and did a great video on how swales work. Visit his video by clicking how swales work.

For more information about what we have done at the inn for swales visit permaculture.