Date: December 08 2000
Trail Day: 191
Miles Today: 0
Location: Day's Inn, Blue Ridge
Section Mile: BMT 28
ECT Mile: 2848
Decided to take a O day. Did the normal eating, drinking. Took a nap. Now eager to be back on the trail. It looks like I am done with 4000 footers. I have a couple of 3000's and I will be done with those. Things are starting to look up.
Date: December 09 2000
Trail Day: 192
Miles Today: 11
Location: Near Fall Branch Falls
Section Mile: BMT 39
ECT Mile: 2859
Got a late start today. Tried to get a ride for a long time. Took about 2 hours to get a ride - I am definitely off the AT. It was a local guy and he gave me a ride all the way to Wilscot Gap. This was unusual because I had to take 2 roads to get there. Saw several cars parked there with BMT and AT stickers. A little down the trail I met a maintenance crew. They were a very friendly lot. Also met Marty Domini, president of GPT. Got information on the Georgia Pinhoti trail from him. Another maintainer gave me the set of maps for the rest of the BMT. So I have now gone from having no information to having all the info.
The trail continued to be moderately difficult. I realized that I need to cut my pack weight. I will have to clear the Alabama Pinhoti before I can do anything.
Even though I did only 11 miles today I was quite worn out. Met another 4 day hikers towards the end. This trail is a lot more popular and well maintained than I thought. The BMT association has done a fantastic job.
Date: December 10 2000
Trail Day: 193
Miles Today: 18
Location: Near Hatley Gap
Section Mile: BMT 57
ECT Mile: 2877
Last night a dog was barking and running all over the place. Once it came close to where I was. I shooed at it and it ran off.
Rained a little last night. Started hiking and met 2 hunters / hikers. They asked me if one of the dogs with them was mine. I said no. A few minutes later I found that the dog was following me. It was a hunting dog with a radio collar but no owner info. I fed it some cheese at a break point. It followed me for a couple of minutes after that and then disappeared.
Today's trail was a mix of proper hiking trails, old logging roads, dirt roads and paved roads. The paved road sections have been kept to a minimum. Also saw Indian Rock shelter. Took a photo.
It has not gone below freezing in the last several days. I feel quite warm ! Tomorrow I go up Flat Top mountain - elevation 3732 feet. After that I will be done with 3000 footers.
Section Mile: GPT 12
Had a light rain last night. It was very foggy in the morning. Started the climb up Fowler mountain. Found a little stream on the way up. These have become very rare. I was also out of water - again.. Took a break and had breakfast. It became more and more misty as I climbed. Then a ridge run with 500 ft ups and downs and a last small climb to Flat Top mountain. Then came a descent to Dyer Gap.
All of a sudden there were no blazes near the gap. Found them again down the road. Got to the junction with South Fork trail. My BMT section ends here. Took a photo (The BMT goes on all the way to the Smokies). There are no blazes on the South Fork trail, but its very short. Back on FR 64, a 3 mile walk and then the Mountain Town Creek trail. This is another trail with no blazes.
The maps I have got from the Georgia Pinhoti association are horrible. Its a photocopy and its barely useful. I had to squint for some 5 minutes at a map to see that a point was Cave Springs - a decent sized town. Streams, roads, contours etc are undistinguishable. The only thing that stands clearly is the trail which is marked with a color pen. However there is no map for this section. The written description asks me to go 4.3 miles along the trail and "Turn right off trail prior to creek crossing. Travel cross country south to ridgeline. Turn right on old logging road near ridge line". The description also calls it a trail of many creek crossings. So its not just one crossing that I come to but have to decide from numerous.
I covered 4 miles or so and started looking for appropriate places to bush wack south. But all the places led me directly across the creek if I were to head south. Continued on till I was sure I had over shot. The trail ended in a dirt road. Asked directions from a guy in a jeep and continued. Another couple of miles and I got to road signs that are mentioned in the description - I was back in known territory.
Continued for a while and set up camp. End of a rather long day. Switched from the BMT to the GPT and also got done with everything above 2500 ft, I believe.
BMT is a nice trail worth hiking. It has a good mix of trails, old logging roads and dirt roads. I like this aspect of it. You get to see more of the local people.
The GPT is off to a bad start. I hope it improves and some of the trails are blazed.
Date: December 12 2000
Trail Day: 195
Miles Today: 32
Location: Day's Inn, Dalton
Section Mile: GPT 44
ECT Mile: 2931
A very long day today. Set a personal mileage record - 32. The previous was 27 on a roadwalk on the IAT.
It rained last night but I stayed dry and extremely warm. The temperature dropped to about freezing. I got up early, even before the sun rose and started hiking. It was quite foggy when I started. Roads I walked - Shakerag road, Conasauga road, Highway 2/52, Alt 52, Route 52.
Climbed to Fort Mountain state park. There was leftover snow in this height and the trees were covered with ice. People in cars seemed mixed. Many smiled and waved, some looked puzzled - a throw back to the IAT road walk. Almost none of these roads are designed for pedestrian use. If you have a stalled car and you have to walk 2 miles to get some gas you take your life in your hands. Shows how auto-centric American culture is. No wonder we are all so fat.
Had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Chatsworth. I have been wanting to do that since I started the AT but there were very few opportunities to do so. Relished the meal. Ordered a second lunch. The waiter asked - "To go". I said - "No, for here". He had to make an effort to keep his surprise from showing. The service was very good. This area seems to have a decent hispanic population. I am glad to see a somewhat cosmopolitan place after the almost all white scenario since Canada.
Decided to bounce my sleeping pad. Bounce means to mail stuff to a new location and if not needed there, forward it to the next location. I dont think I will be needing the pad any more. I am tyring to cut out the weight as I dont think I will be facing the 15 F temperature I faced in the Smokies.
I had no intention of walking to Dalton, but as I kept walking the traffic picked up and I realized it was city traffic. Also, I decided to get a motel and they were all on the other end of Dalton. Walking at night is also possible in a city because of all the lights - in fact its downright interesting. I find the reactions I provoke from drivers and passengers to be the most interesting. Each demographic has a general reaction - Country, City, male, female, young and old.
Stoppped at a gas station to get me directions and withdraw money. As I put on my pack outside and got ready to move on a guy drove up to me and said - "Hey, looks like you could use some help" and offered me 5 dollars. I refused saying I was just a hiker. He was a little disappointed that his generous act had not worked out. I found this to be a small moral dilemma - should I have accepted the money just to make him feel good even though I did not need it. Was I in fact justified in taking it because he offered it to me. Had it been an old friend offering me food/drink for 5 dollars, I would have accepted it immediately. What is the right thing to do - I wonder.
Got de-natured alcohol at the "Super" K-mart. The merchandise available for sale is just astonishing. There is no doubt in my mind that the materialism has gone way overboard and is now functioning to fill the voids that modern life has created in us. The crap that will be exchanged and discarded promptly during this Christmas will be proof enough.
Got to Day's Inn and was glad to sit down. I am quite tired after a long long day.
Date: December 13 2000
Trail Day: 196
Miles Today: 0
Location: Day's Inn, Dalton
Section Mile: GPT 44
ECT Mile: 2931
Decided to take a zero day as I was very tired and the weather seemed to be quite bad. It started raining heavily in the afternoon and I was glad to be indoors.
Date: December 14 2000
Trail Day: 197
Miles Today: 21
Location: Horn Mountain
Section Mile: GPT 65
ECT Mile: 2952
Today was overcast all day. Never saw the sun. Had breakfast at Waffle House and started off. Saw my first Pinhoti blaze. I hugged and kissed it as tears of joy ran down my face :) Blazes make a huge difference to the trail.
I can slowly see that the mountains are coming to an end. On Blood mountain, about 20 miles north of the AT there are no mountains to the south. On Cohutta overlook, near the beginning of the GPT there are no mountains to the north. Now there are very few mountains to the west. They are spaced further apart and are quite low. I dont think the climbs are more that 500 feet. It is a very satisfying feeling to see that I have almost crossed an entire mountain range.
The hike was fairly easy. The climbs were short and the ridge runs relatively flat. I was quite surprised to do a 20+ day with a late start. I was also grateful that it did not rain.