Wednesday, June 29, 2011 / Somewhere west of Bushy Head Gap, GA
I am stealth* camping at yet another intersection of a forest service road and a couple of old logging roads, in a land scaped by bulldozers of a bygone industry. My camping spot appears to be on a saddle – ridge behind me, mountain in front, dropping off to either side. It acts as a venturi, turning the breezes in to some very stiff gusts. I hope it does not storm tonight or I’ll be in for a ride. Sky looks crystal clear right now, and it was not so hot today as to expect a thunderstorm. So many tall weeds around here, the clearest spot I could find is spanning the trail. My attempt to trick fate in to meeting some other hikers. This has been a solo hike in every sense of the word. So far the only people I have seen have been on the AT and on roads. Oh yes the two old school hikers at Bryson Gap.
[*Stealth = not in a designated camping spot. Actually stealth probably implies tresspassing as well, so this is more accurately LNT – leave no trace ]
Today had another 3 mile road stretch, but it looks like I left the last auto-navigable road or intersection until I reach my car, save for crossing some FS roads in the middle of nowhere. Tomorrow I enter the Cohutta Wilderness, the biggest road-less area on any Georgia map. I was all set for a 7:00 start when I discovered my sore feet had developed blisters over night. I ended up using my pocket knife to lance them. Fixed it all up with Neosporin, gauze pad and duct tape. Duct tape works great in lieu of moleskin. Feet didn’t bother me again all day. Forgot about my achilles until the first climb. The stabbing pain had me contemplating exit strategies, but I pressed on. “1981 all over again” went through my mind. It got better once I concentrated on plodding, not pushing off with my left foot, but lifting it. Again climbing in to some thick fog, lasting over an hour. Made it to my cache by 11:20, then across highway 5 and through the Sisson resort. Lots of road sections through here, in and out of what felt like people’s back yards, and creeks behind mountain cabins. Had lunch at the Indian Rock shelter, the only hiker shelter on the BMT in GA. Then a few more miles in the woods before turning on to a paved road through rolling farm countryside.
The guide promised camping & water at the end of the road, mile 55.1, my destination for the day. But all I could find was a grassy spot on a bluff at the intersection of a gravel country road and a residential street. Strange place to camp, and it was “rush hour”. So I hiked on another mile to this spot. 16 miles on the day.
Today I accomplished a few things. 50 miles. Over half way. One day longer than my previous hikes. I am definitely over the hump. Previously, the entire hike was the end game, never more a day away from the first day or the last day. To be a true long distance hike (and hiker) the end has to be far enough off that you can only think about the next day, and enjoy the current one. I have reached that point. I don’t care that I have a shitty camping spot this time. It’s what I have to do. And it’s ok – it’s hiking.
One note about apprehension…It does not help that the guide says (speaking of Big Frog Mountain, Friday’s destination) “Remember, this is wilderness. Trails are not blazed, and signs may have been destroyed by bears or vandals.”
- Taller windscreen
- Menu variety – the chili is awesome, but the picadillo did not hold up. Maybe I grabbed some of the really old stuff by accident. Maybe I should put dates on the baggies. But that leaves me with chili every night.
- Smaller portions – I thought I’d be hungrier.