Friday, 02 Dec 2016
Start Milepost: 00.0 Time: 08:46
End Milepost: 06.5 Time: 15:15
Miles hiked: 13.4
Temps: Low: 45°, High: 53°
Trails: PMT to join Long Leaf Loop at MP 6.5
Resupply: ibuprofen & a coke!
Overnight: Tent site 601
PMT + Long Leaf Trail
It was a most inauspicious start to the trip. What could be easier: follow highway 74 to 362 to 27-Alt and park at the Country store. Google said 1 hour. I left at 07:15 and got to the store at 08:40. Good grief. Read the map before you leave home and note the odd transition into 27-Alt. Got headed east on the trail at 08:46 and proceeded apace. Took my first photo to demonstrate how someone could lose the trail if they were not observant. Like me. The trail had turned slightly left at a sign I read, but apparently did not interpret properly. Since I saw no evidence of a trail, I checked my map. Thank goodness for GAIA, an electronic topographic map. It showed that if I took a turn north and crossed GA-190 in 50 meters, I could rejoin the trail in another 10 meters. I did.
I stopped at the CCC Hatchery ponds because there was a comfortable bench there. Jotted down six thoughts for this journal and resumed the hike. The pace held at 3.0 until I linked up with Scamper at MP-6.5 We met Fred, who was in from Warner Robbins to check out his new poles before joining his son on the Georgia section of the AT during Christmas break. Scamper and I took the Long Leaf trail for 7.1 miles. We both developed knee issues and found our pace slowing from the 2.7 for the first four miles together miles.
We checked in at the park HQ and got a tent spot to which we drove after picking my ZX up at the Country Store. I was not aware I was being timed as I set the tent up. Scamper said it took eleven minutes. (She posted a correction: 13.5 minutes.) I did not tell her the quilt was not hooked up fully, camp clothes were not set out and boots were not placed properly in the tent. To which I noted mentally, so much for psycho cybernetics!
I then concluded that of all things to forget to load, I failed to stock up on Advil which I had sworn off. Well, I had sworn off the pills until I found my knees barking after a previous hike.
I have too much food in the pack. I ate one Pop-tart at the start. Ate the second of the packet at the one hour mark. Ate a small Snicker an hour later and a Clif bar just before noon. We stopped for lunch after noon at an RV Campground and ate two tortillas with almond butter – vice peanut butter. And then had a Snicker at about 14:00. Here I sit at a picnic table with the stove ready but no hunger to go with it. Uneaten in the Friday food bag: a two-meal packet Idahoan mashed potatoes & some beef jerky, , four Slim Jims, two Clif protein bars, and two Kind bars. What was I thinking?
The air is turning chilly. The sun has set and the last of EENT is near. And I am wondering what to do with the stove and food. Decisions.
Have decided to cook now – a logical 18:27. Ah, but my watch is still set to daylight savings time so it is really 17:27 – no wonder I am not hungry. Still, I am going to cook instant potatoes with a beef jerky side!
About 100 meters after Scamper and I had crossed a candy-stripe we heard the splitting of a tree, limbs hitting the ground. We turned sound just in time to see the whole dang tree crashing to the ground behind us. While it did not hit the trail we had just walked, it was close enough to the trail (perhaps 10 feet!) to get our attention. It was in trail vernacular, a widow maker. Or, depending upon your perspective, a widower maker.
Just after I cleaned up from supper, I crawled into the tent with the express purpose of using the very last of EENT. It turned out that I need more than the available light so I flicked on my headlamp. It probably took me ten minutes to find and insert the quilt liner. I could not find its opening! It took a full 30 minutes to sort out the location of the items in the pack. It should not have been so tough. There was a food bag, a clothing bag, and a catch-all section on the top of the pack. Plus the stuff sacks for the tent, sleeping pad and quilt. Oh yes, spare boot inserts in case the new Herman Survivor inserts failed. With the blog complete and tenting keeping chores finished – to include tightening the guys – I chose to hit the hay. Sleep did not come immediately and when it did arrive it was fleeting. It seemed that every male under 32 wanted to show off the muffler of his pickup truck and its upgraded sound system. The last one made his run 30 minutes before midnight. Bless his dang heart.