30 June, 2008

6/28-29 Rhodie trip on the Chattooga

*First off this one's called the "Rhodie trip" because of all of the blooming Catawba Rhododendrons- there were everywhere and absolutely gorgeous!*

This past weekend I headed just west of Clayton, GA where I met up with my good friend Cindy and Neitch (her loyal canine) to hike into the wilderness on the South Carolina side of the wild and scenic Chattooga River. Thunderstorms were forecasted, but we stayed dry for the most part aside from a freak storm that we heard quickly approach as we were sleeping Saturday night. It's quite a different experience to hear feel a storm approaching out in the wild versus in the comfort of your home.

On this trip we hike north from the SC 28 trailhead about 3.5 miles to Ira Branch Creek to set up camp. From there we dropped our packs and headed out on a quick 2 mile out-and-back to the falls on Lick Log Creek. Why it's called that I have no clue. It was quite nice though and we could access the river. The water was suprisingly warmer than I thought it would be.

After dinner (mac 'n cheese with peas and tuna) and braving the storm (it really wasn't too bad) we crashed and then I woke up early to make a stack of blueberry pancakes. I had been eating some semi-ripe blueberries (and blackberries) along the trail, but I happened to bring in some fatties of my own for this b-fast. We then did a good 5-6 mile dayhike to another nice spot on the river and were able to chill out and relax there for awhile. It was quite nice to have the earth snuggled up around us as we dipped our legs in the comforting Chattooga.

After that we packed up camp and hiked the 3.5m back to the car. All-in-all we probably covered about 15 miles in two days. The trail and campsites were a lot nicer than I imagined they'd be too. Quite a nice trip. Also if you're hungry while driving through Clayton, be sure to stop by "The Mexican Store" on the right side of 441 when entering town- so good, and cheap!

Oh... and did I mention the plants on this trail?!

Trail tree #1
trail tree?

Trail tree #2 (The "number 4 tree")
"number 4" tree

Flowering Wintergreen
cute little wintergreen

Catawba Rhododendron were blooming everywhere

Riverside native azalea
native azalea

Click beetle (thanks Susan!)
eye spots

Woman's best friend (and two of my best friends)
dynamic duo

Bark beetle victim?
Dead pine

Placid river

12 June, 2008

11miler on the AT- 6/8/08

Firepink and Azaleas! That's what I would title this hike. The firepink wasn't everywhere, but it did show itself in numerous rocky areas along the Appalachian Trail this past Sunday. Native azaleas were much more abundant and ranged in color from a buttery yellow to orange to a deep red. All in all it was a great hike and totalled about 11 or 12 miles depending on which trail signs/maps you read. A solid 6 hour hike with plenty of stops.

We started at the Woody Gap trailhead off GA-60 just north of Dahlonega and hiked over and around a few ridgetops all they way to Jarrard Gap. The first section is relatively flat, then climbs steeply to a great view on the two rock outcrops on Big Cedar mountain. Great views to the watershed below. After that we hit a few more high points and some long gently sloped sections mostly under the cover of deciduous hardwoods.

I just found a great site with VERY detailed info on the AT in Georgia including mileage, sidetrails, water sources, campsites, etc. Check it out: http://www.hike-usa.com/at-georgia/.
This will definitely come in handy when I plan future hikes.

Pix to come soon (Thanks Kat!)

fresh legs

first wildflower- Firepink!

One of many blooming Mountain Laurel shrubs (Kalmia latifolia)

Is this a "trail tree"? ...here's info that I found online regarding the mysterious trees:
Many years ago, the people native to this area, navigated through the Mountains, using an elaborate system of trail markings. The trunks of oak trees were purposely bent to point in a given direction, indicating, food, water, safety, etc....

1st azalea (Flame Azalea)

2nd azalea (maybe "pinxter"?)...notice the spot of yellow on each bloom

friendship rock

this guy attempted to get nectar from my pack for a good 5 minutes

Only halfway!

...I hope to do this section again sometime but as a through hike up Blood Mountain and down to Neel's Gap. Any takers?