Saturday, January 20, 2018

Bankhead Wander

The planned group hike to Big Tree didn't materialize, so we opted to do some exploring instead.
I think we ended up doing just shy of 4 miles, but barely a step of that was flat.

We headed off trail to find a couple of falls using the GPS and map.

We went past a cemetery, down a big hill, up a big hill, down a big hill, up a big hill and then:

Down another big hill! 
Let's see what I think:


The third canyon had a nice stream and I really liked how clear it was and how the rocks were so mossy.
Getting down to the creek, I slipped crossing the top of a cliff and slid and kept sliding and stopped with my feet at the edge of a 30-foot drop.  I was not pleased and my efforts to get away from the edge on the thick bed of leaves was making me slide slowly closer to falling.  I had already decided when I went over to throw my weight to the side in hopes of landing on my arm rather than my legs or butt because I thought if I lived, a broken arm would be easier to recover from.
I managed to flip over and crawl toward a tree uphill, the soil was so thin my poles did nothing to help.
Later, I looked and I had dirt and small pebbles under my fingernails from where I had dug in to slow myself down.  Everything I was wearing was meant to shed water, it was a really bad combo for the deep, damp leaves and I slipped a couple more times, though all that got me was a good bruise.

There was ice! 

A shot under the ice

Trying out a new shoe, I have not been able to hike in anything other than my Chacos for the past year.  I had plantar fasciitis and when that finally cleared up, I then developed metatarsal neuralgia.  Anything I have worn other than Chacos has made my toes go numb to the point that the next day I was having trouble walking at all from the pain.  It feels like when your foot goes to sleep, then the circulation kicks back in and that initial flow of blood-how much that HURTS-but for an entire day.  I could barely move sometimes.
Chacos worked for me, I am unsure how or why, but I never needed anything else and never once had any issues wearing my original pair.  I bought a second pair and they are about 50/50 even though the foot-bed is the same.
I went looking for help and ONE person out there had the same issue and also wore only Chacos and through trial and error found that Oboz worked for her. 
They worked GREAT today until the very end of our hike, we had walked back a couple of miles through the canyons and then crossed the West Fork of the Sipsey and did one last long climb up to a dirt road.  The flat slap of walking tired took a toll and by the time we were at the car a mile later, my feet hurt.
Oboz have a rock hard insole, there's no give inside the shoe.  I think if I get another pair of metatarsal pads, they will be perfect.  The pair I have are in the shoes Chandler took over and she won't give them back...

Chillin my heels in some ice!

More ice, ugh!

The top of the final canyon, Matt is looking for a cache.

Matt finds caveman soap!

He was going to get his head wet and the wind picked up and blew the water over on him.
He screamed and ran for it.

Then got JUST AS WET sticking his head back under the water on purpose.

I flat love the open woods and sloping canyons in Bankhead.  I'm thankful it's so close.

I have not talked about my hair, but I have kept it stained since the Cayman trip and I still love it so much.
I get looks from time to time, but no one has ever even mentioned it-from friends to total strangers, other than Jacki, of course.   I find that to be bemusing.

Look at the pic above again, under my chin are 2 puncture scars and on my jawline is another Y shaped scar.  That's from a dog bite when I was 14.  I used to put stuff on it every day and take skin repairing vitamins, but at some point, it just wasn't a thing anymore.  I can go years and not even think about it. Sometimes I feel it when I am putting on my face stuff at night and try to scrape it off with a fingernail, thinking the hardened skin is dried food.  I don't know what it says about me that I sit in bed with dried food on my face often enough to absentmindedly scrape it off, but there you go.

I'm flawed.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

First Two Hikes

Met up with Kimberly and knocked out a good loop at the land trust, we decided to try to walk every trail this year over there.  I didn't take many photos because I have done that stretch before a few times.  But we did go further on the Railroad Bed trail than I have before and ran across a really cool bridge.  It looked rickety but was very solid and the wood was hard, like metal.

Saturday, Matt and I did 7+ miles at Flagg Mountain, the southern terminus of the Pinhoti.  Though we did not complete the 5+mile trail section there due to lack of shuttle car, I feel like we have BEEN to Flagg Mountain now.

Let me talk about the location a bit.  It's down at the Clanton exit off 65, about an hour north of Montgomery.  Google maps and Waze will do turn by turn, but once off the Interstate, there's no cell signal, so a cached or paper copy of the directions is good in case your phone craps out, which Matt's did and we drove around until we got a connection again.

There is one sign at the next to the last turn.  The last turn looks like you are driving to your chainsaw-centric death down a long, winding, red mud road with views to the left of some heavily logged land.  Matt's car weighs about 700 pounds with us, our gear, and a full tank of gas.  We thought we were going to live in that mud puddle until summer sun dried us free.  But it dug deep and surprised us both almost as much as the huge deep swath of red clay we found ourselves floating on.  I was glad we had shelled out for new front tires just last month!

The trailhead is clearly signed, so just keep driving.  It's out there, is an oasis of gravel parking, has a picnic pavilion (no trash) and a kiosk with the only printed map of section one I have ever clapped eyes on.  Even the official Pinhoti trail map starts at section 3.  Section 2 is still all road walk.  In Swedish, kiosk is pronounced 'shosk' and I spent some time pondering if the English word 'shop' came from that.  Welcome to my scattered thought process, you should see what I filter out.  I'm actually writing another blog post for a different blog along with writing this one because why not embrace the fact that I am a non-linear thinker.  Which makes me a JOY to talk to IRL, no doubt.

From the parking area, we walked down the trail to the trail register and took the trail UP to the tower.   It's a new trail, and not flat yet so walking was tilted and very steep in places.  We decided to take the road back to the parking area and just restart the trail.

Flagg is the southernmost mountain in the Appalachian range over 1000 feet high.
There is a big push to move the southern terminus of the AT to here.
It will never happen until the road walk sections have been moved to a trail.

We took the road back to the car and the trail back to the turning off.  That was 2.55 miles.
It was cold, but the trail was steep enough to keep us warm!

The first mile of trail is up and down, then it turns lovely and while it still goes up and down, it's milder and easier, I was almost bummed to get to our destination for this hike-the shelter at mile 2.2

The shelter is on the hill up above a wide, shallow creek.

I loved this rock work on the trail!
It was getting dark and my camera died immediately after this pic, so use your imagination for the next bit.

Around a mile from the parking area is an intersection with a sign pointing back to the CCC cabins.  So we opted to take that route thinking we would avoid that steep first mile.

The trail went up and up and then past the CCC cabins-which really were worth seeing-and then up and up more and there's the tower again!  We managed to climb Flagg Mountain twice, the second time to...avoid a climb.  And there's a drivable road that goes to very near the top.  We walked down that twice, too.  The second time I jogged it.  Cause I'm a badass.  Really, I just want thigh muscles and downhill is easier on my cardiovascular system. 

Anyway, it was a hard hike but we had a great time and I am stoked to knock out another section as soon as it warms up!  We did not see anyone else all day.

The northbound rest stop on the way back up 65 has devils food Zingers, which are worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hiking Goals 2018

And backpacking!

in no order:
Some are repeats

Foothills Trail thru (88m)
Shenandoah thru-hike (101m)
Cumberland Island (5 nights)
Art Loeb Trail thru (30 very hard miles)
Max Patch to Hot Springs  (11ish m) (I have not looked that up and am guessing)
Roan Mountain thru (40m)
JMT, TN version, thru (28m)
At least 5 nights on the Pinhoti, any part

More local:
Walk all the way around Duck River reservoir in one day (21 miles)
end-to-end and back on RM trail in one day (22 miles)
thru on the Fiery Gizzard (13m)
finish the 90 miles of trails at South Cumberland
finish all the labeled trails at Bankhead
hike the new Honeycomb Trail
hike every Land Trust trail

Autumn trip to the Rockies to backpack with Ben

Camp/backpack 50 nights total

Meet 3 new hiking buddies

Take 3 classes: any combo of first aid, wilderness first aid, first responder/rescue, or other outdoor skills