Trail Journal

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.

Date: December 23 2000
Trail Day: 206
Miles Today: 0
Location: Econo Lodge, Anniston
Section Mile: APT 64
ECT Mile: 3091

A 0 day. I was planning on heading out. But when I got up I had absoloutely no mood to go.

Tried to buy another orange vest but they are all out. I have also lost my whistle/compass/thermometer combo, pocket knife and photon lamp. They were all tied in a string. I bought another pocket knife, could not find a photon lamp. The compass I will buy in Pensacola. The Florida trail is notorious for people getting lost due to poor blazing. So I will have to buy one before I start it.

Date: December 24 2000
Trail Day: 207
Miles Today: 4
Location: Near I-20
Section Mile: APT 67
ECT Mile: 3095

Slept well last night and got out of the motel at about 9 am. Walked to Rte 78 and tried to get a ride for about 2 hrs. Could not get one. Decided to walk 5 miles further out of town and try a ride. No luck. Walked another 4 miles and tried again. No luck again. Then just walked the remaining 4 miles to the trail. So it was 17 mile day although only 4 on the trail. It was also interesting to note that I could not get a ride on Christmas eve, where people are supposed to be full of brotherly love. Even more ironic that a good number of them were travelling to/from churches. It occured to me that if Jesus were to be walking through one of the neighborhood they would call the cops. Religion is just a farce these days.

Walked the 4 miles to I-20. The trail is fairly non descrept - a little of this and that. Ate some cheese and ham sandwhich and fell asleep.

Date: December 25 2000
Trail Day: 208
Miles Today: 19
Location: Blue Mountain Shelter
Section Mile: APT 86
ECT Mile: 3114

For the first part of the day the trail followed little streams. Then it climbed onto the Cheaha mountain and ran the ridges. Saw 2 hunters today. They were trying to chase a deer and were somewhat lost. I continued on, realized I was off the trail, came back and saw where the trail did a sharp turn that I had missed. Didn't know which way to go. Took one and walked for about 0.75 miles before realizing I was on the wrong direction. Turned back.

There were some nice small water falls. There was some ice near one. Took some shots. Once the trail started climbing there were numerous blow downs. The climb went very slowly. I was planning on going past the shelter but could not. This is the last shelter for me. The Florida Trail has none. Took a shot of the shelter.

Looks like there is no water for the remaining 28 miles of the APT. I have one water bottle full which won't last me the whole length. If I dont find some water on the way I will be thirsty.

Date: December 26 2000
Trail Day: 209
Miles Today: 20
Location: Clairmont Gap
Section Mile: APT 106
ECT Mile: 3134

Last night was fairly warm - above freezing. My water bottles had no ice in them. This is the first time thats happening in about 10 days. Completed the rest of the climb upto the ridge. It became surprisingly rocky and stony. That along with all the leaves made for very slippery hiking. The Leki poles sure came in handy.

I was also able to find water from some small stream, so there was no problem. Once again its fairly clear that the mountains have ended to the west and the east.

The day somehow just flew by. The terrain was fairly difficult. There are almost no flat areas. So its up and down all the time, though almost never very steep. Got some very good views.

Also completed all climbs above 2000 ft today. There is still some ice above that elevation and the wind is strong and cold. Also found that I have some milage problems in this journal. I shold be showing about 125 instead of 106. I will have to resolve that once the hike is complete.

Date: December 27 2000
Trail Day: 210
Miles Today: 29
Location: Abandoned Barnyard
Section Mile: FAR 20
ECT Mile: 3163

It rained a little last night but by morning everything was dry. I can now see city lights almost everywhere at night. The mountains sure are ending.

The trail was quite rocky in the beginning but the last 4 miles or so were very good. Completed the APT. Took some shots at the trail head. Continued walking on SR 77 and onto CR 7. It started raining and I got thoroughly wet. It was getting late and I decided to go to Goodwater for the night. It was another 9 miles. but along the way I saw an abandoned barnhouse and decided to stop there.

Later at night I could visualize things in vivid detail and color. I have never been able to do that.

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