The Appalachian Trail boasts lots and lots of little, path-side campsites. Some that are noted on the map, and some that are not. Most are very pretty and well placed. Some are not, and while this isn't a pretty one and it's placement is not optimal, it is a place to put a tent and bed down for the night if you need to, so that's what we did. Horse Gap Camp does sit right on the trail, so it's easy access and there is a parking lot, so I assume there is opportunity to use it as a drop off/pick up site if needed. While at the site, I had the chance to use my Midland Pocket Weather Alert Radio, and it did not disappoint!
As far as campsites on the AT go, there are much nicer sites with better views and more amenities, but when you are simply trying to gain miles, beat the weather and get some shuteye, anyplace will work as long as it's safe and you can drop a tent on level ground. The night we stayed at Horse Gap, we were trying to get a few extra miles in so that our next day wasn't so long. Our map told us we could camp here, and it was convenient (on the trail, actually), but it wasn't the prettiest I've seen. There were 2 tent pads, a decent bit apart from each other, but neither was terribly conducive to a level tent, and the ground was rocky. One pad had broken glass and the other was in a spot that looked like it might have significant water flow, if it rained. Both had fire pits, but they were in poor shape and had garbage (do you really need to toss a pair of ripped out rainpants in the fire pit?). Nevertheless, we picked the spot that was best suited to our needs and went with it. There was a lot of wind, and so we didn't burn a fire that night. There also weren't many trees that were well suited to hanging a bear bag, but we found one that worked well. Unfortunately, it was right over the other tent pad, so it's a good thing we didn't have anyone using that area. We would have been hard pressed to find a better tree. But we made it work, we had a place to crash, and we were able to use the rocks around the fire pit to set up stoves and cook dinner. Really, that's all we needed. There was a road that passed right by the site. We only saw a few cars, so the traffic was not bothersome.
I've always thought I'd like to have an outlet for weather that didn't involve technology (read: didn't involve turning on my cell phone in the midst of the wilderness). That's where the Midland Pocket Weather Alert Radio came into play. This thing rocks! It's tiny, it's useful, it doesn't weigh much and it's super easy to use. What a winner! It comes with batteries, so you don't really have to worry about it. There is a wrist strap on it, an antenna and buttons that are so simple, you can't get it wrong. You turn it on, it scans the seven pre-set stations for one that comes in well, and reports back the weather to you for the area you are in. You can hit "re-scan" if it's not clear and try again. There is a volume up and down button and also an alert feature. If you are expecting weather, but don't know when, you can set it to "alert" mode, and it'll kick in if a weather bulletin/bad weather creates an alert for your area. The station gives rainfall for the area/cities in the area, temperatures, forecasts, etc. It's on a kind of loop that updates periodically. I love that this is something I can use, just in case. Came in very handy to give others on the trail the weather when they asked "is it going to rain". I could say "no" with a smiling face!
Best part about this radio:
- It's so small, it fits in the palm of your hand.
- It's so light, you won't notice it tucked in your top pocket for quick access.
- It's so easy to use, there isn't a need to carry the instruction manual.
- It comes with it's own batteries!
- It allows you the freedom to not use your phone in the wilderness, if you don't want to.
- It gives you peace of mind to know if weather is headed your way (allowing you to make wise choices about your travel and camping plans).
- It's only $25
What didn't I like? Nothing. Nada. Zippo. It's just too easy to take with you….you can't say no. At less than $30, it's peace of mind without having to sacrifice safety in the backwoods.