A few weeks ago during the Labor Day holiday weekend, I completed a two-day paddling trip from Dairen Georgia to Shellman’s Bluff Georgia. I had attempted this last year (in the other direction) but did not quite make it. (See previous post.) Originally, I had planning to complete the trip in a single day, however I took an unplanned detour (took a wrong turn) up the Duplin River to Sapelo Island. I had to camp out at the hunting camp on Sapelo and complete the trip the next day. The entire trip covered 32 miles (51 Km). Without the detour, the trip would have been about 20 miles, which I think I could have just barely completed by paddling nearly non-stop from dawn to dusk.
In hindsight, I think it was fortunate that I took the detour. It gave me the opportunity to spend the night on Sapelo Island, which is something I have wanted to do for some time. Permits are required to stay on Sapelo, but this was an emergency situation in which I had to bed down for the night. Fortunately, I brought my camping hammock just in case I had to spend the night out. I setup my hammock under a small shelter at the hunter’s camp. Hunting season was not open, so I had the hunting camp to myself.
It stormed hard that night. The wind was gusting to 30 miles an hour with thunder and lighting. I had not setup my tarp because I though the permanent shelter was enough to keep the rain off. I was wrong. During the middle of the night I was awoken by strong wind and rain. The wind was blowing the rain under the shelter and onto me and my hammock. So I got up and hurriedly put up my tarp. The tarp kept the rain off and I dried out soon enough. I slept fairly well in spite of the rain. I tend to sleep very well in a hammock, even if damp. I know that if I had been in a tent, I probably would not have gotten much sleep at all. I had not bought a sleeping bad, but I wore my rain jacket to bed and that kept me warm enough.
At dawn the next day, I packed up as quickly as I could and set off again. I arrived at Shellman’s bluff at 2:00 pm.
Last week I did some kayaking in South Georgia. I took my Wilderness Systems Tsunami 12.5 and a recently purchased Werner paddle. On the first day I paddled along the Georgia coast from Shellman Bluff to Blue and Hall near Darien. I was trying to make it to Darien, but I took a couple of wrong turns that cost me about two hours. At times I was fighting strong headwinds and tidal currents. My past paddling adventures have all been on fresh water rivers. This was the first time I have paddled in the sea. I make few mistakes. I tried to hug the coast instead of staying in the Intracoastal Waterway. The small winding rivers along the coast were disorienting and I did not have a GPS with me. I took a wrong turn and paddled almost an hour in the wrong direction before discovering my mistake. Once I got back on the right track, I felt like it was too late to try to make it to Darien. So I put in at Blue and Hall.
After taking a day off to rest, I started out for the Stephan C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee Swamp. I spent the night in the campground in my Hennessey hammock. I slept very well in the hammock. The next day I paddled from the park office to the Big Water lake and back.
I paddled about 20 miles both days. It was great to get out in the outdoors.
Kyle and I attended the Blade Show this weekend here in Atlanta. The Blade Show is one of the premier knife shows in the country. People come from all over the United States to attend the show. We bought several knifes at the show: KA-BAR BK-2, SOG Aegis, and a Leatherman Crater. We received two complementary knifes: a small KA-BAR neck knife and a SOG Micron 2. I also bought some sharpening stones.
I bought the BK-2 from the designer Ethan Becker who was at the KA-BAR booth.
We saw two You-Tube celebrities at the show: Murray Carter and Dave Canterbury. Dave will be co-staring with Cody Lundin in Dual Survivor on the Discovery Channel this summer. Dual Survivor premieres this Friday at 10:00 pm on Dicovery. Dave is a very nice guy and I hope his show does well. He has put in a lot of hard work on his You-Tube channel over the past few years. He deserves the success he is enjoying now.
We were on vacation at Gatlinburg, TN all last week. We spent two days shopping and sightseeing in Gatlinburg. We saw Ripley’s museum, Ripley’s Aquarium, Guinness World Records Museum. The Aquarium was better than I expected, but the other attractions we visited were pretty bad. I think the kids enjoyed them, but I thought the other attractions were only slightly above the quality freak show attraction at a state fair. I would only recommend the Aquarium.
We spent a day at Cherokee NC. The main reason I wanted to go to Cherokee was that my parents took my sister and I there on a family vacation almost 40 years ago. We got to Cherokee fairly late in the day and spent most of our time looking at the shops. Unfortunately we did not get to the museum before it closed.
We also spent a day riding zip lines in Pigeon Forge, TN. I had a nice talk with the owner after we finished. He only recently started the business and seems to be doing well. It was raining that day, but I had brought rain jackets, so we were able to keep mostly dry.
We spent the last day hiking. We hiked the chimney tops trail. It’s a 2-mile trail (one way) that climbs 1400 ft. We took a very leisurely pace up and down the mountain. Kyle and I climbed to the very top, which is not for the timid. It’s quiet difficult (for a 44 year old man in slightly better than average condition).
A couple of weeks ago I took the day off from work and hiked the Coosa Backcountry Trail. I hiked the trail counterclockwise (which is recommended) but instead of hiking up Slaughter Mountain, I hiked back to Vogel State Park along highway 180. Since I did not get started until almost 11:00 am, I did not want to risk having to hike Slaughter Mountain in the dark. I started off at 10:45 am and got back to the park at about 6:00 pm. I was slowed to a crawl by ice and snow on top of Coosa Bald Mountain, which I did not expect. The ice and snow was so bad at one point that I was really afraid I would have to spend an unplanned night out on the trail. However, the ice and snow abruptly disappeared just past the top of Coosa Bald. At that point I knew I would make it back to the park before sunset, but it was did not have much time to spare.
If you are planning on hiking the Coosa Backcountry Trail, you need to be in fairly good condition. The evaluation changes are challenging. I think it’s much easier to do the hike as a day hike with a light pack (less that 15 pounds) rather than doing a two-day hike that might require a heavier pack. If doing this hike in one day, start early in the morning (8:00 am or earlier). I started late, which necessitated my short cut across highway 180.
My pace is pretty slow, so I did not have enough time for a long break in the middle on the hike. I plan on hiking this trail again. Next time, I will start early to give myself enough time for a leisurely lunch break.
The Coosa Backcountry Trail should only be attempted in winter or late fall. It is a strenuous hike and I have read that the trail is covered in poison ivy during the summer. It is very important to check the weather forecast before you start. Make sure to bring emergency gear (tarp, emergency bivy, fire kit, first aid) in case you end up having to spend a night on the trail. There is cell phone coverage on parts of the trail.
Kyle and I went for a short hike at Amicalola State Park on Sunday. We hiked the 2-mile loop trail that goes up to the top of the falls, then back down the other side. It was a tough hike up due to the large change in elevation. We had a great time and got some much needed exercise and fresh air. On the return path I noticed an Indian trail tree right on the trail. The funny thing is that I just learned what an Indian trail tree was just a couple of weeks ago.
We had a great Christmas this year, except for being sick. Several of us have come down with bad colds. For me, it’s been about 4 years since I had a bad cold. It seems like I am making up for it now.
Just before Christmas, Kyle and I camped for two nights at Cloudland Canyon State Park. It was cold. At night, it got down to about 20F. We had fun. We built a campfire and cooked all our food on the open fire. We collected water from a crystal clear mountain stream and sterilized it by boiling. We both decided that we were done camping in sub-freezing weather.
Kyle got another guitar for Christmas and some guitar strings. Nicole got a camera, a scooter, and a keyboard stand and stool. They also got Guitar Band for Wii to share.
While browsing the web today, I stumbled upon a free PDF of the journals of Richard Proenneke. Proenneke retired to the Alaska wilderness in 1968 at the age of 52. He built a log cabin by himself and lived in it for the next thirty years. He was an amazing individual. This particular publication contains his journal entries from 1974 to 1980 along with a biography. Proenneke has been featured on television numerous times over the years and there have been two documentaries made about him. Some day, I would very much like to have a similar experience, but not for 30 years. A year or two would suffice for me. Anyway, I am going to start reading the journal. It seems very well written and I am looking forward to getting a more intimate view into his world.