Trail Journal

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.

Date: December 15 2000
Trail Day: 198
Miles Today: 21
Location: Old Narrows's Park
Section Mile: GPT 86
ECT Mile: 2973

Due to the humidity the sleeping bag felt clammy all night. In the morning there was a lot of dew and fog.

Decended from Horn mountain. Met a hunter along the way. Took a break at Pikher pond. Met another hunter. This guy was not a serious hunter. He seemed very relaxed and said he never walked too far from his truck. I think he uses hunting just as an excuse to get out into the woods.

Then came a climb up Keown Falls park. Its a very small falls but the trail maintainance seems very good. Crossed two creeks and got my shoes and socks wet. All in all a fairly easy hike. Most of the trail is blazed and therefore easy to follow. I have also cross referenced the GPT maps with the DeLorme maps and now have a much better idea of what the trail is doing.

Today I reversed all the north meander caused by the BMT and am now south of the Springer mountain.

The day turned quite warm, probably 55 F. I could hike in just my shirt.

Date: December 16 2000
Trail Day: 199
Miles Today: 22
Location: Near Holland
Section Mile: GPT 108
ECT Mile: 2995

It rained off and on all night. Stayed very dry. Started off when the rain let up a little. It was over cast all day and I never saw the sun.

Got into a very good trance and the miles just flew by. Most of the trail was through old logging roads and dirt roads. The hills have become small with flat ridge runs. That has really speeded me up. Could not find a 1 mile section of trail that hooked into the Simms trail. Used the road to hook into it instead. Simms trail is an abandoned rail road that has been converted to a trail. I really enjoy those.

I was hoping to be in Holland - A small community tomorrow but I made it today. I have two days worth of food still left i.e. I could have gone another 50 miles till a supply stop. The people here are extremely friendly. As I reached Holland I saw two guys waiting in a van. They said they had seen me hiking down the road and had stopped by to talk to me. They asked me about my hike. They also offered me a ride to Rome which is about 20 miles away.

Went to a small store in Holland. Bought some sandwiches and beer. Some of the local guys also offered me a ride to Rome. Decided to camp early to beat the rain. Another gentleman also stopped by as I was setting up camp. He said he had seen me hike a little way up. We chatted for a while.

I set up my tarp with it raining. Got in, ate a sandwich, spilled half a can of beer on my ground cloth. It is exciting to eat and drink in a tarp with it raining outside. The tarp today is poorly set as I dont have much space. I think I will be getting somewhat wet tonight. But tomorrow I should be in Cave Springs where I go into a motel.

Date: December 17 2000
Trail Day: 200
Miles Today: 22
Location: Cedar Creek Inn, Cave Springs
Section Mile: GPT 130
ECT Mile: 3017

A very important day today - day 200 and M3k, mileage 3000.

Last night the weather went nuts. It started raining as soon as I setup my tarp. It warmed up to 55 F and rained very heavily. Then the rain stopped and it was extremely windy. I had to hold on to a tarp end to keep it from blowing off. Then it became extremely calm. Later the temp started falling sharply. I had not worn any warm clothes to bed so I was cold. The temperature went to 25 F and I woke up to frozen shoes.

Continued hiking the Simms trail then did a road walk to Cave springs. Almost everything is closed because it is Sunday evening. The weather is going to be very cold for the next few days. A zero looks good before I head in to Alabama.

Date: December 18 2000
Trail Day: 201
Miles Today: 0
Location: Cedar Creek Inn, Cave Springs
Section Mile: GPT 130
ECT Mile: 3017

A good relaxing 0 day. Did laundry after a long time. Picked up the mail drop. Suriyan and Karen have sent me a box of goodies. Thanks Karen. Also got the next set of maps for the Alabama Pinhoti trail. Thanks Vivek.

The weather for the next few days does not look good, but I will be heading out any way.

Date: December 19 2000
Trail Day: 202
Miles Today: 20
Location: Near US 278
Section Mile: APT 9
ECT Mile: 3037

Bought some gorceries and started off. First a road walk on a big road, then on to smaller paved roads and then on a dirt road. There were numerious dogs. These dogs are a nuisance and the owners don't do anything about it.

Then started a cross-country hike to find the Alabama Pinhoti trail. I had to do this for 1.5 hours before I found it. Took a photo of the first blaze I saw - I tried to get myself in the photo but was just too tired to go thru the process. Some of the cross country was through very brushy areas. I had to fight my way through it. In the process both my orange vests are now in tatters. It was also hard because it had started snowing and I was slipping almost every step on slopes.

Once I found the trail things were better. Hiked till I found a creek and decided to stop. The water bottles were frozen.

Spilled my food again while cooking. You get very chilly when it gets very cold and tend to make a lot of mistakes.

Also crossed into Alabama somewhere in the cross country hike - my 17th and second to last state. The APT is also my second to last trail. The hike is almost two - thirds complete

Date: December 20 2000
Trail Day: 203
Miles Today: 19
Location: Near Water Shed
Section Mile: APT 29
ECT Mile: 3056

I had been hoping for a while that I wouldn't see temps below 15 F. Well, didn't work out. Last night it was a cold 12 F. The sky had cleared and with it we lost whatever heat we had. My water bottles were frozen. So were my shoes.

The first couple of hours under such conditions is agony. Things are good so far as I am in the sleeping bag. But once I am out and get my feet into the frozen shoes the horror starts. The feet go numb. I then have to handle different things with my bare hands to break camp. So the hands go numb. Since my sleeping bag is quite thick with a liner it is a struggle to get it into the pack. The numbness stays for another hour and a half after which things improve slowly.

Today's nike was slightly more difficult than I would have anticipated. There was also a section running along a steep slope. I slipped on the snow and leaves several times - very hard on the knees.

Saw a fox today as I set my pack down to rest. Haven't seen once since Mt. Carlton in New Brunswick.

The good news here is because of the snow and rain almost all the little creeks have water. Things also warmed considerably during the day. It was a clear day. Another 90 miles of mountains and I am out of them!

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