Date- March 1, 2020
Location- Cave Spring, Georgia
Elevation- 633 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 19 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 188.8 miles
Weather/Temp- Some clouds, 50s
Injuries- Sore feet, scratches
Pain level- Low
Wildlife encounters- Pheasants
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 6
Today was rough, but it had the perfect ending. The pup and I were hiking by 7:15 am. Despite getting more and more worn out every day, I’ve begun hiking a little earlier each consecutive morning. It wasn’t my plan, but somehow that’s just the way it’s been working out.
My feet were pretty stiff starting out this morning. Nevertheless, I was getting those 19 miles to Cave Spring no matter what. Even though we got a nice early start, I felt like our pace was behind compared to what we’d maintained the last few days. I think it was from a combination of things: needing to get more water, a wardrobe change, stopping to eat breakfast, and having a bathroom emergency. It was just one little unplanned stop after another, and they added up.
Odds and Ends
I came across another shelter around 3.5 miles from the shelter I slept in last night. They were unusually close, and this one was also adjacent to a nearby road. One could tell that people (other than hikers) were using this shelter for their own purpose. There were a lot of old blankets and pillows stacked up inside. I also noticed some lighters and tinfoil lying around. I’m no detective, but me-thinks people are smoking crack there… or roasting potatoes in a fire… or something.
The trail was exceptionally rocky through a decent portion today, which slowed down our forward progress significantly. I alternated between carrying Katana over the rocks and letting her tackle the smoother trail. She tallied up between 3 and 4 miles, the bulk of them on forest service roads towards the end of the day.
In other news, we crossed into Georgia this afternoon. It was probably the proudest state crossing I’ve ever seen. On the post marking the border, full size versions of both the Alabama and Georgia state flags swayed proudly in the wind. While trying to get a picture in front of the border, Katana couldn’t take her attention off the sounds of the flags flapping. It was pretty amusing.
During two separate breaks I found a lone star tick crawling on Katana, and then one crawling on me a few hours later. These were the first ones I’ve seen on the trail, and by far my most feared tick. The lone star has the potential to make you allergic to red meat. I might as well be dead if I can’t eat red meat, because it’s my favorite food on earth.
The day wrapped up with a 3 mile road walk into the town of Cave Springs, Georgia. The road walk itself was a hairy one. No shoulder, almost no dirt to walk on, and plenty of vehicle activity. It wasn’t a mindless road walk at the end of the day – as I would have liked. Hyper vigilance was required!
During our walk into town we passed a restaurant called the “Creekside Restaurant.” As we were going by, a few people came out and greeted us. One was a middle aged woman named “Dollene.” She invited me to have dinner with her and her husband Randy, and told me it would be their treat. I agreed, but first went to check into the local motel where I had reservations, and dropped off Katana.
A short while later I joined them for dinner and enjoyed a tasty burger! Dollene and Randy were very warm and welcoming. They offered their assistance in any way they could, while I was trekking through this area. We all exchanged information.
I can’t begin to describe how comforting it is to know locals have your back out here. There is always a sense of vulnerability when you’re a stranger in a strange land, especially on foot. It gives peace of mind to know you have allies – if things get sticky.
As I was leaving the restaurant, two other men beckoned me to their table and then asked to buy me a beer. I graciously accepted and joined them for almost an hour. Their name’s were David and Billy Wayne. From what I gathered, they were well known figureheads within the small community. They were both beyond friendly. Like everyone else we encountered locally, they were inspired by Katana’s story and wanted to know more. By the time I was leaving to finally have a shower, Billy Wayne was getting me set up with a better room at an old 1930’s boarding house called “The Hearn Inn.” At the same time, David was making plans to take me cat-fishing tomorrow. I felt overwhelmed by kindness!
The current motel where I was staying, turned out to be quite a seedy place. It was one of those motels that had a lot of permanent residents. There was activity all night long in the parking lot and along the second story balcony walkway. Plus, I’m fairly certain there was a small orgy taking place in the room next to mine. The whole place was just a flurry of questionable activity into the wee hours. I’m glad to have another option tomorrow, especially if the weather is as bad as anticipated.
Playing it by Ear
I feel really good overall. My feet are quite sore, but no blisters. The soreness is undoubtedly from the extra weight of Katana, because they didn’t even hurt this much after the 50+ mile days on the CDT. The next four days are calling for 90% to 100% rain. Combine that with a 31 mile road walk out of this place, and I might have just found a new temporary home (until the weather clears). I’m still in no hurry and just enjoying this mini-vacation detour…