Trail Journal

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!

Date: December 21 2000
Trail Day: 204
Miles Today: 18
Location: Laurel Creek Shelter
Section Mile: APT 47
ECT Mile: 3074

Things change quickly here. It was clear and still when I set up camp at about 5 pm. By midnight the wind picked up considerably. I had to get out and tighten all the lines. Then about 4 am or so it started raining which then turned to ice. Morning - my tarp was covered with ice. I waited for it to stop raining in the morning and then set out.

Some of the sections run through trails that are on steep slopes. With all the snow, ice and leaves I was slipping a lot. There were also a lot of blow downs - One of them was on a steep slope and I could go neither up nor down to get past it. Took me 5 minutes to clear that one.

The trail later in the day became much flatter and there were a lot of pine stands - almost like Florida.

Got to Cedar Creek shelter - one of the four on the APT. Cooked some rice but it was too salty and I could not eat it.

Today (apprx.) is also the shortest day of the year. For the first month of my hike the sun and I were approaching one another. Then the sun went south much faster than me. Now it will come back.

My review of the GPT - the section from Dalton to Simms mountain trail is worth hiking if you don't mind the numerous dirt roads and old logging roads that the trail uses. The entire GPT from BMT to APT is not worth hiking because of too much road walk. This is obvivously a young trail and the association has done a wonderful job with it in the short period it has been in existence. However, a lot more work needs to be done.

Date: December 22 2000
Trail Day: 205
Miles Today: 17
Location: Econo Lodge, Anniston
Section Mile: APT 64
ECT Mile: 3091

Last night was extremely cold. Started off with very frozen shoes and I was miserable for a good 2 hours. It had cleared up last night and with it we lost all the heat. But the sun was shining today and things warmed up a little by noon. The lakes here are 75 % frozen. I used to live in Louisville which is very north of here and don't remember seeing frozen lakes. I am quite surprised that Alabama is so cold. Looks like I will have this till I enter Florida. The cold is certainly wearing me out.

The trail was quite flat in the beginning but then turned up and down. In one long section there is a dirt road that runs on the ridge and the trail had to be put down the slope. It thus meanders a lot.

Got to US 78 and had to wait a long time to get a ride. Finally got picked up by 2 guys - Joe and Shannon. They took me to their apartment and fed me and then dropped me off at a motel. They were really helpful.

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