Tag Archives: north georgia

26 Years and Still Getting Lost Together……

DSC_0029January 11th, marked 26 years of marriage for Big Yahmo and I. We celebrated the evening by going to Lowes and looking at a dishwasher and  a garbage disposal to replace the ones that conveniently exploded two days before Christmas.. (Of course, being married 26 years allows those kinds of things to just roll off your back.)

For the weekend, however, I had other plans. Our dear friends, Chris and Patti Leppo, graciously shared their sweet cabin located outside of Blue Ridge on Fighting Town Creek. So, Friday after work, we loaded up and headed to the hills. By sunset, we were sitting in front of the fire, eating tortilla soup, with a glass of wine, listening to the water roar below.

IMG_0232Morning came quickly and after some hot tea  and blueberry buckwheat pancakes , off we went. The plan was to head to Section 5 of the Benton MacKaye Trail. While the temperature was reading around 27, the sky was brilliant blue and cloudless as we neared the pull off. . .Now, this is where the story gets kind of interesting.

According to Tim Homan’s North Georgia Trail Guide, the trail began at an old logging road across from the gravel parking space. Now I have never hiked the Benton MacKaye and really didn’t  know how it was blazed, if it was blazed or anything about it.  Right at the logging road entrance we saw two girls with backpacks getting organized, so we took off ahead of them.

 IMG_0244The trail started as described with a reasonable climb and before long we had glimpses of the mountains beyond and the valley below. Little sparkles of water, assumed to be Lake Blue Ridge mentioned in the trail description were visible. After the first two miles, the trail became rather challenging. Many blow downs, several overgrown patches made us call laughingly call it the “Duck and Bob” trail. (we should have called it the Dumb and Dumber Trail, but more on that later…)

IMG_0235At the 2.5 mile point according to my trusty FitBit,we came to a hard switchback….. just as described in the book….(Due to the overgrown nature of the intersection, we left a couple of good sized sticks to point us home on the way back.) Have I mentioned that we are not known for our navigational skills?
 
We followed this along the ridge wall of the mountain crossing a dry creek bed a couple of times for another mile and suddenly there was nowhere else to go……. We should have been in full view of the fire tower but truly, there was nothing that even resembled a trail…

After scratching our heads, consulting our trail guide, taking a  break, making some tea and eating a bite weIMG_0246 decided to turn around and and call it a day. Seriously, I was wondering who, if anyone, maintained the Benton MacKaye Trail and how was anyone supposed to find their way around…So we made our way back, over and under and through the overgrown trail. Soon we caught sight of the road and as we walked around the gate over the logging road I looked to the right…..

OH, there is the trail!!!The starting blaze...

On a tree…..up the hill….to the right of the road…..in the woods…. was a small brown sign , as I looked up from the sign, I caught a glimpse of a post with a small familiar sign about 20 feet up the TRAIL. Yep, Section 5 of the Benton MacKaye………

We had just spent the last 8 the blazemiles hiking on what is most certainly NOT a trail and who knows where we were heading!!! In disbelief, we hiked up the trail a bit and then saw the prominent white diamond blazes on trees beyond.

Now I am pretty sure that this confession would qualify for being evicted from the Trail Dames, Southeast Women Backpackers and the O.G.G. ! However, this is a pretty typical adventure for David and I. We have a long colorful history of dirt roads, leaking tents, flooded trails and worm attacks. We have stumbled upon cult families in the woods, had equipment malfunctions and have experienced a few “Deliverance” type moments over the 30  plus years we have been exploring life AND the woods together.

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But through it all we have persevered, found the humor and leaned on each other to weather each storm and trial. Getting lost on a logging road is not life threatening but could have ruined the weekend for some. After our hike, we retreated to the cabin, showered, gussied up and had a fabulous dinner at Harvest on Main in downtown Blue Ridge. (Thank you Teresa for being an outstanding server) We came back to the nice warm cozy cabin appreciative of the opportunity to spend time together.

Sunday morning, bright, cold and blue came and we headed back once again to the Benton MacKaye Section Five trailhead. IMG_0291Lake Blue RidgeIMG_0311
This time, we chose the right path and enjoyed a spectacular hike. The sky could not have been more blue,  a dusting of snow on mossy green logs, gorgeous sculptures of trees not visible during the summer months and the deep blue reflection of Lake Blue Ridge kept us company as we hiked.

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Fabulous 360 degree views from the top of Tipton Mountain, a mysterious rusted bleacher surrounded field and Brawley’s Mountain  fire tower (in a scene straight out of Lost, complete with mysterious radio transmissions..) made the second attempt more than worth our efforts. It was a perfect winter day, filled with the quietness that comes with the season and we had it all to ourselves..
 
IMG_0338the trashman...
Satisfied that we had finally actually hiked Section Five of the Benton MacKaye , we turned and headed back to the car victorious. We ended our more than fabulous weekend with a stop at the famous Panorama Apple Market, where we picked up a bag of Pink Lady’s and went around the sample table a couple of times before heading back to reality…….…

Happy Twenty Sixth to us!
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Rainy Day in Georgia….

So, I ask myself, “Have you lost your  mind!?” as I crawl out of my nice warm bed at 5:00 am on a Saturday. Rain drumming against my bedroom window and my sweet husband softly snoring make it even more of a question. I quietly dress and add my trail lunch to my pack, slipping out the door to begin my journey.

The DamesI am hermetically sealed in rain pants, rain jacket over two layers of breathable clothing, a gore-tex hat, and am carrying a pack covered with its own little rain jacket. I meet fellow Trail Dame, Denise and off we go higher and higher into the North Georgia mountains, slowly disappearing into the fog.
We arrive off Ga 60 at Woody Gap and meet Joan, Monica, Kellye and Melissa aka SHOE. Visibility is at 0 percent and it is blowing rain in every direction.
 No one flinches when the decision is made for SHOE to shuttle us down forest service road 42 to Cooper Gap where we will then travel by foot to Gooch Gap 4.7 miles and then continue on to Woody Gap another 3.8.
After several miles down a muddy bumpy road, we  make adjustments to our rain gear and take off up the mountain laughing, talking and trying to catch our breath as we find our trail rhythm.
Our first wonder of nature is pointed out by Joan, aka Hemlock. TREE FOAM…. Tree Foam? Also known as ”stem flow” when rain water drips down the trunks of trees and forms bubble bath looking foam at the base. This makes her very happy. (Later she also spots a patch of false puffball in aspic which nearly sends us all over the edge…)
We squish and slide along the rugged path of the AT enjoying the sounds of the day, the cool rain,  the eery mist and each others company. A quick stop at the Gooch Gap AT shelter for a brief respite from a downpour, finds three through hikers, barely beginning their journey. I wondered how I would feel if I was starting out a hike measuring 2,181 miles in such weather. After hurriedly eating a snack, we left them in various states of preparation and head off to Woody Gap.
There were a few water crossings made even more exciting by the rising water, wonderful rocky outcroppings with views to nowhere and one of the fastest lunch breaks ever under a dripping hemlock tree with a cold wind whipping around us.
Not once during this day did anyone complain or whine. In fact the mood of these crazy women was upbeat and positive, punctuated by lively conversation and laughter.

It was a day designed to stay inside, to hibernate in comfort but we were rewarded by a unique way to experience God’s beautiful creation of nature.