Date- February 21, 2020
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 1,342 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 14.9 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 73.3 miles
Weather/Temp- Clear, 40s
Injuries- Small cuts
Pain level- Zero
Wildlife encounters- Zero
Days without shower- 8
Days without laundry- 2
Nancy had us back on trail by 7:30 am. The timing of our entire stay couldn’t have been more perfect. She is headed to Oregon tomorrow for nearly 3 weeks to meet her husband for their son’s wedding. As a result, their hostel wouldn’t be operational for that time. This was too bad because the bulk of Pinhoti thru-hikers will most likely begin within those 3 weeks – even if it’s not a lot of them.
It was exceptionally cold all day, but mostly clear. The clouds burned completely off by noon. As usual, Katana alternated between riding and walking. For some reason, she was more motivated than usual to stay on the ground. She was really fussy about being on the pack. When I put her down this time, she did a good job not getting too distracted as she hiked. The first signs of compromise!
Working the Compromise
I hate to say it, but aside from my made-up conversations and interactions with Little Dog, today was unbelievably boring. I still have yet to see another human being or hiker on this trail (aside from Nimblewill and the firefighters on Flagg Mountain). The only wildlife I’ve seen are birds. The views have been mostly uniform displays of countryside or logging lands – so far.
A Mine Field
There was a stretch of about 3 miles today where the trail was an on and off again mixture of leaf-covered boulder fields. These were surprisingly stressful to navigate with Katana on my pack. It would have been too dangerous for her to tackle on her own. At times, they were nearly too dangerous for me to traverse while carrying her. Several times I found myself almost toppling over, due to loose or unseen boulders beneath the leaves.
I took my longest break of the hike around noon. For more than an hour I just laid in the sun while sharing deli meats and peanut butter with Katana. We were making pretty good time, and I really didn’t feel like going much more than the planned 15 miles. At around 5 pm I called it a day, with an hour of daylight remaining. We made camp on a rise that was neither too low in elevation or too exposed, by my estimation. It was a good spot for what’s supposed to be a fairly cold night. There’s a 4% chance of snow tomorrow!
I fell asleep shortly after lying down watching the sunset. At around midnight, I woke up to let Katana use the bathroom and write this journal. There is currently a barred owl hooting its heart out nearby… music to my ears.
We should cross into Cheaha State Park tomorrow. The plan is to make it to a shelter less than 15 miles away and camp there. I suspect we’ll see some people out for the weekend, but I could be wrong. Then we’ll go as far as we can the next day, while aiming for the town of Heflin on Monday. The chance for rain is low. We’ll see how my master plan plays out…
I’m very surprised at how strong I still feel from the CDT hike. I’ve been able to carry Katana up these relatively steep-ish climbs without so much as a hint of needing to stop. It feels fantastic!