Anxious to try out my new warbonnet hammock, I accept an invite from the Southeast Women Backpackers for an overnighter on the Chattooga River. Kellye, who I had met on a previous EXTREME Appalachian Trail hike, where we defied every law of common sense and hiked in some of the worst rain I have ever seen.( see previous post) and KP who I have not met, are my trail mates. (along with their dogs Sammy and Cowgirl) We meet early morning in Clayton and caravan to the end of the trail. As we pass the bank I notice that the temperature is at 93 on the bank sign and it is not even 11:00…..
We all pile into Kellye’s faithful Honda and bounce down some forest service road. We come to what appears to be a RIVER crossing in the road and Kellye makes us get out, backs it up and guns it through the water!! Woohooo! We wade across and jump in.
We finally locate the start of the trail, make the usual last minute adjustments to our packs and head down the trail. I am excited to hike on the Chattooga River and keep humming dueling banjos as we make our way.
It takes me all of ten minutes to realize that it is HOT, not the oh, I need a glass of ice tea hot, but HOLY MOSES, it is flaming inferno hot!! and at the fifteen minute mark, I am drenched from the inside out. KP and Cowgirl lead the way, with Kellye, Sammy and I lagging behind. We drank often in an effort to stay hydrated and stopped periodically to catch up. About three miles in we stopped for lunch and the dogs took a swim…..at this point, I am wishing I was a dog….in a nice air-conditioned house…
With some effort we pack up our lunch and head down the trail another 3 miles. Between the heat and a nagging foot injury, I started to FEEL it!!! About the time that I was considering falling over into the bushes, we arrive at a nice campsite right on the Chattooga River. (da da dadadadadada da)
We all have been affected by the heat and are a little slow setting up camp. I am soo anxious to hang my hammock that I go and stand in the almost tepid water willing my body to cool itself before beginning. Interestingly all three of us are in hammocks. Kellye, actually loaned me her Hennessey hammock to try out on a previous trip, (I obviously loved it) and KP and I have a Warbonnet. I find two trees and with KP’s help, get my Warbonnet Blackbird and Big Mamba Jamba tarp hung.
Everything seems to take twice as long, due to the fact that the air is not moving, the sun is blazing off the river and the temperature is climbing at 98 according to my iphone and the weather channel (thank you Jim Cantor). But we keep the faith and after a bit, camp is set up and things cools down a little. We sit and share ideas and food, listen to a little Rascal Flatts and friends compliments of KP. Once it cools down enough, KP and Kellye have a fire building contest as I annoyingly hum the banjo theme from Deliverance.
Night falls and we all just enjoy the company of the river and admire KP’s hammock set up complete with sparkly lights, (I am sooo getting some), it finally cools down and not long after dark falls we each retire to hang in our hammocks. I slept great until sometime in the middle of the night when Sammy, (the beautiful German Shepherd) starts barking like a maniac and Cowgirl starts growling….I lay very still waiting as usual to be eaten by a giant bear. This does not happen and I slowly relax and slip back into a wonderful sleep swaying by the river as the frogs croak on.
Tuesday morning, found me the LAST out of my hammock, (WHAT!!) we took our time with breakfast and breaking camp. It was around 5 miles to our cars but not an easy journey. We seemed to be going up and down a lot, though none of the climbs was terribly steep, it was still hot as Hades. We had to climb over, around and though many blow downs. (This Spring was tough on all of our southern trails.) We finally made it to the end by early afternoon and said our goodbyes. My first stop was the Burger King at the corner of 441 in Clayton where I used their bathroom to change into dry clean clothes and had a whopper and an Icee, which I had been fantasizing about since the night before. I made another stop at 23 and 441 at a Burger King and order another, a cherry AND coke icee. When I got to the window, the girl handed me TWO Icees!! LOL, I drank them both!!
One of the things I have loved about my meetup groups, the Trail Dames and Southeast Women Backpackers, has been the amazing people I have met and now consider friends. Women that I would never have encountered, much less spend enough time with to really get to know them. I have met, structural engineers, paralegals, retired military personnel, moms, girl scout directors, scientists, a whole slew of teachers and everything in between! All drawn together by a love of hiking and our gorgeous trails and mountains. I really treasure this special group of friends and always enjoy it when we can get together, (although I doubt any of us would recognize each other if we met dressed, with makeup and out of the woods!)
For more photos of this trip Click Here