Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pine Mountain Trail - Day 2

Today started heading east to the Eastern Terminus of the trail, then heading back west to Brown Dog Campsite. Weather was perfect and the hiking was fairly easy. The last 3 miles to the end of the trail are along a cool stream and it was very pleasant hiking. My original plan was to do about 15-16 miles, but I had finished 7.5 by 10 AM so I figured I could push on further today and make the last day's hike short and sweet. I was glad I made this change. When I reached the Eastern Terminus I called to change my reservations for the night to Beech Bottom Campsite.

It was a great day for hiking. The sun was out but there were enough clouds to keep it from being miserable. I was astonished by the tornado damage and the efforts of the PMTA to clean up the trail just a few months after. Within just a half mile, the trail would go from being deep in the forest with a cool creek to out into tornado damage where the soil was dry as the desert and the sun baked everything. Mother Nature's destructive power left quite a mark on the trail. Ended up going 19.8 miles, my longest day backpacking. It was a Saturday and there were a lot of Boy Scouts out on the trail. Some of them were hiking in jeans and I could not even imagine how hot they must've been. There was a troop playing in one of the streams so I had to head upstream to pick up my water!

I took a short white-blazed trip of the main blue-blazed trail (backwards from what I'm used to!) to see the top of Dowdell's Knob where FDR used to come to picnic and not far from where he died in 1945. There was a beautiful view from the top.

The campsite was again next to a stream which made water collection very simple at the end of a long day. I had cranberry pecan ranch chicken salad wraps for dinner and once again didn't eat any other snacks besides my fig newtons. I am starting to realize I don't quite develop the appetite I think I will when I'm out hiking.

Once again set up my hammock and retired early. I slept very well until about 3:30 AM when I started hearing something that sounded like splintering. Turns out the plastic rope that tied around the tree for my hammock and breaking strand by strand and reverberating through the netting of the hammock. As the strands kept breaking and finally gave out, I went straight down on my butt! Luckily I had set the hammock up low so I didn't fall more than a foot. I debated in my head about just night-hiking out to my car, but figured I shouldn't take a risk like that. I also had my blue pad that I was so unhappy with yesterday so I put that down on the ground and slept like a baby the rest of the night. Good thing it didn't rain so I didn't have to mess with my tarp.

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