Monday, April 24, 2017

Home Again

Well.  My 3 weeks on the AT turned into a soggy disaster and I bailed!

The lady who flew in from Maine to hike with us decided to go back home on day two and hitched into town and left.  It rained and rained and rained and rained.  It's still raining over there and will rain more later this week.  I am going Wednesday to pick up Melissa, who has finally had enough at 70 miles in.  I'll go back and finish that section when it's not so damn wet.  If I am going to hike it alone anyway, I'd rather be able to see more than my fogged over glasses and fogged in overlooks and muddy, slick trail.  I hate camping in the rain even with the car 20 feet away.  This was a whole new level of suck!  The first night, all my stuff was soaked because I didn't know how to set up my tent for rain.  It came with ZERO instructions.  I got smarter after the first time, but it never did stop raining for more than a few hours.  It became stressful, then wearing, then demoralizing, then enough. I don't feel even remotely bad for quitting.

I did enjoy seeing parts of the trail, seeing other people's set-ups.  The first night on Springer, a guy set up between me and the spring, and I giggled a bit about the HUGE sheet of plastic he was basically wrapping his tent with as I walked past to get water.  I will never do THAT again.  hahaha!  At the time it seemed excessive, but now...I think 50 feet of that 10 mil pool liner would be a good idea to haul around.  Or maybe just neoprene everything.

The wildflowers were amazing, trout lily not even blooming in the high areas.  Flame azalea, an Appalachian-only bloomer was starting to come out.  Violets, chickweed, iris, foam flower, oxalis, sweet shrub, dogwood, magnolia, blackberry, apple-it seems like everything was in bloom at once and when it wasn't pouring, the smell and the pollen was so strong.  Like it had to do everything in that brief window of dry.

I'm already keeping an eye on the weather to plot my return and planning hikes locally to keep my burgeoning muscles from lapsing back into Little Debbie snack cake shape.

The one dry afternoon.

My tent off in the distance.
I was going to hammock camp but I have never hammocked in blowing rain and I was a little worried about staying warm enough at night with the air moving under the hammock.  Tents are about 10 degrees warmer just through blocking the air.  I sleep cold, so-tent.

It rained.  I have a few foggy overlooks and some slightly blurred flowers.

The next weekend, Matt and I walked to Helton Creek Falls:

On the way to our AirBnB we went past this old courthouse:

He was going to drop me back off at the trail Sunday, but it started raining again and I was done.  I asked him to just take me home, so he did.

Been trying to eat here for about 7 years now.
It was closed for remodeling.  hahaha
The drive thru was open, but I wanted to sit still and dry and eat.
We went to Creekside Deli and it was wonderful.  I had a double grilled cheese, perfection.

Matt did not believe me-that the local 'hospital' was for Cabbage Patch Kids.
They had these huge white cabbages out front with baby heads inside.  We both thought the other had gotten a pic of them!

On the way home, we routed through Atlanta and walked the Dolls Head Trail.
Then, we got home around dark and that was that.  Not a super exciting start to the backpacking adventures, but I'm okay with that.  I'm not hurt, my gear is undamaged, as soon as my shoes dry out I think they have a few more miles in them.  I admire people who can push through day after day of that kind of weather, but I know myself well enough to realize I am not made of the same stuff, and that's okay.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Backpacking Lite in MS

We planned a 2 night trip to Sipsey, but (tornadic) storms Wednesday cut right through that idea.
So, we went west of the weather to Tombigbee National Forest for a shakedown trip

This kid,  Born backpacker, I can't wait until she's old enough to take a serious distance.

We talked to a ranger, who had apparently never been down more than one trail in the whole system and that one was 'flat'.  So, armed with a map and his suggestions, we parked and headed down a closed road to a creek crossing.
Then after looking around for a decent spot to camp that was not boggy or covered in poison oak, we hiked back out to the cars.

Then we checked out several 'hunting' camps before ending up at the trailhead campsite on Sheep Ranch Road.  It was just a few feet from the cars, but we still got to try out all the gear, recipes and there was plenty of hiking right from the site.

D got a fire going with a knife and magnesium!

Sammy played for us a while.

I tented with Ben the first night, he bailed for the van the second night (really strong winds and low temps) so I had to make do with my hammock chair for lounging instead of the full hammock!

Picnic tables make everything SO much easier.

We were camped right next to a cemetery, on the way to check it out we saw a snake!

Leap year baby!

We walked about 10 miles the whole trip, it was very laid back.  We mostly hung out at camp.

Thursday was SO windy and chilly!  We did not want to go straight home, so we veered over to the Natchez Trace and drove on that for about an hour, until we hit Tupelo.  Then we took 78 back across to Alabama.

hop clover

daisy fleabane



road trip weather!

Back home, Nia had nearly died of neglect

And after a long search for Batman, I found him.  Face down in the gravel after falling out of my window!  I was horrified!  He has a scuff now.  His besties, purple Catwoman and Peter Parker have tried to cheer him up, but it was a bad fall. 

Big Hill Pond

Took Ben, Alex and Elan backpacking to Big Hill Pond State Park in TN

We set up at Grassy Point right on the lake.  Next time, I will get further from the water to avoid mosquitoes and the way sound carries.
There is a train that goes THROUGH the park and it makes a racket day and night!

I set up right by the water, which I usually don't do (LNT) but it was out of the underbrush, so I wasn't stomping any plants or picking up ticks.  I made up for it by barely leaving the hammock the whole time.  
All night the frogs and fish made racket.  The next morning, there were frog eggs in the shallows!

 My setup.

I check on the Matt Burrito on my way to the little girls tree

A mild early morning walk while waiting on the boys to get up.

Ben loves to hike, camp and spend time with his mom

We did not stay in the shelter, but this is what they look like.  There are 5 of them.

The boys quickly outwalked me.  It was like I was standing still.

The trail, Dry Ridge, had NO water other than the lake.
It also had this mess to get through, I think this is where our ticks came from.  Matt had several, I had one. Ben had 6.

The above is across the lake from the shelter, but you can't really see it in the pic.  But you can see the spot you could kayak to!

The trail goes around the lake, the van is parked above the levee at the far end, on that hill.

I sometimes wonder if Ben hates me.  

I man bunned that mess.  He did not like it. 

I braided it over his shoulder.  He did not even look at me.  Remember Kat?  How she would just shut her eyes instead of acknowledge I existed?  Remember how she was always watching over the kids and trying to raise them as her own?

Back at the start,  Batman did not like camping, but I did!  We will be back to check out another section.