The Pinhoti Trail is a 240 mile trail stretching Alabama’s Appalachian Mountains into Northwest Georgia. For many hiker enthusiast, the Pinhoti Trail is the start of the Appalachian Trail. “Pinhoti” derives from the Creek Indian word meaning “turkey home”. The Pinhoti Trail consists of two smaller trails: the Alabama Pinhoti Trail (100 miles) and the Georgia Pinhoti Trail (140 miles).
The Alabama Pinhoti Trail extends over 100 miles along the southernmost extension of the Appalachian Mountains. The trail passes through Dugger Mountain Wilderness Area and Cheaha State Park Wilderness Area (highest point in Alabama).
The Georgia Pinhoti Trail (GPT) is the longest foot trail in Georgia. It begins at the Alabama state line in Polk County, Georgia and continues to the Benton MacKaye Trail (an access trail to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail) deep in the Armuchee-Cohutta District between Ellijay, Blue Ridge, and Chatsworth. Unfortunately a majority of this section of the Pinhoti Trail is road walking.
The classic 1972 movie, Deliverance, about the South and the deep backwoods of America seem to reflect the type of trail experience one may have when researching for their Pinhoti adventure. Researching for information regarding the Pinhoti Trail, we stumbled upon Pinhotitrailalliance.org. The first image that pops up is a family of three (resembling the Clampetts from Beverly Hillbillies) sitting in an old rusted truck combined with “sketchy, homegrown” music playing in the background. This site has since been updated; yet theDeliverance stigma still remains. My guess is the photo is used to portray the several rusted cars, aka “Dead Cars” that you’ll see when walking the trail. The first few sections are very deserted and quiet, except for the mildly scary, long haired, toothless gentleman that will chase you to the end of the road near Talladega Creek Bridge (see journal and photos). Unfortunately information today about the Pinhoti Trail is widely scattered among many websites that are seldom updated.
The Pinhoti Trail has several pleasant sites to see like Alabama’s oldest State Park, Cheaha State Park. Near one of the trailheads at Cheaha State Park is a stone archway made by local artists and school children (see photos). There is also the small town, Cave Springs, Georgia, where everything closes at 8:00 p.m. (not 8:01). Not far down the road from Cave Springs is Lock and Dam Park situated on the Coosa River that will allow hikers to sleep on the ground for a small fee. The Pinhoti Trail leads you through the quaint city of Rome, Georgia along the Oostanaula River where you walk by the local prison, and then on to a small section of condemned houses before reaching beautiful downtown Rome where you will resupply. The Pinhoti then follows the Simms Mountain Trail, a railroad bed converted into a rail-trail out of Rome, GA parrelling Highway 100 to Holland, GA and then back in to the Chattahoochee National Forest at High Point Trailhead. From High Point, the walk to Dalton may be the most scenetic section of the entire trail with spectacular views of sister ranges; but the final section of the trail in Ramhurst, GA to the end of the Pinhoti Trail has something to offer with the fording of creeks and streams, cascading waterfalls and seeing the magnificient Gennett Poplar making the walk to the end memorable.
The best way to describe the Pinhoti is a trail that is heavily wooded forests, far reaching ridgelines, countless creek crossings, spectacular views, dirt roads, road walking, solitude, and little wildlife. The trail is often blazed and for the most part easy to follow.
Note: On the Georgia sections of the Pinhoti Trail, be prepared for small to non-existent shoulders when road walking. This is typically paired with large 18-wheeler trucks that do not understand what its like to be passed by a 70 foot long vehicle driving 60 mph. The Georgia section also links forest service roads and existing trails and may make you feel you are never really on one trail. Though the Georgia section of the Pinhoti is the most scenic.
Pinhoti Trail Photos
RESUPPLY on the Pinhoti Trail
Sylacauga, AL (Start of the Pinhoti Trail – Full Resupply)
Cheaha State Park Country Store: variety of snacks, soaps, laundry detergents, scissors, restrooms and showers (small fee). No restaurants.
Oxford, Anniston, Heflin, & Piedmont – All Require a Hitch, but Full Resupply
Cave Springs: Medium Grocery Store (limited hours), Few Restaurants, One Motel (not the Hilton), Several small gas stations (limited hours)
Lock and Dam Park: this park is mainly used by people in campers, yet the park will allow hikers to sleep on the ground (aka “primitive camping”) and use showers/restrooms for a nightly fee. This park also has a small store with snacks, fishing supplies, and an interesting animal exhibit in the back.
The trail leads through downtown Rome, but if you follow Broad Street all the way to Turner McCall Blvd. there is a full resupply with motels, restaurants, groceries, and stores all within walking distance of one another.
The trail leads through Dalton, GA (Located on Exit 333, Walnut Ave., off of I-75). The Dalton resupply offers a full resupply with motels, restaurants, groceries, and stores all within walking distance of one another.
Pinhoti Trail Gear
Ashley’s Pinhoti Trail Gear
Billy’s Pinhoti Trail Gear
|Shared Pinhoti Trail Gear:
– Homemade Silicone Tarp (8′ x 10′)
– Homemade Bug Netting
– Toilet Paper
– Fingernail Clippers
– 2 Pieces of MSR Tent rope (8′ each)
– Trail Information (Journal written on back)
|– Women’s Mountain Hardwear Duration T||– Men’s Mountain Hardwear Duration T|
|– Billy’s Homemade Skirt||– New Balance Running Shorts|
|– Homemade “Ray Way” Backpack||– Golite Breeze Backpack|
|– Sleeping Bag (North Face Cat’s Meow)||– PureBound 20 Sleeping Bag (Feathered Friends)|
|– Helly Hansen waterproof pants||– Sierra Designs Wind Pants|
|– Outdoor Research Anorak||– Outdoor Research Windbreaker|
|– 2 pair Wright socks||– 2 pair Wright socks|
|– Golite umbrella||– Homemade umbrella|
|– Mountain Hardwear Perignon (Fleece Cap)||– Mountain Hardwear Perignon (Fleece Cap)|
|– New Balance Trail Running Shoes (children’s)||– Asics Running Shoes|
|– 2 handkerchiefs||– 2 handkerchiefs|
|– Cascade Designs Ridge Rest Sleeping Pad||– Cascade Designs Ridge Rest Sleeping Pad|
|– Petzl Tikka Headlamp||– Petzl Zipka Headlamp|
|– Hyperion Down Vest (Feathered Friends)||– 2 One-Liter Plastic Bottles|
|– Sport Bra||– 2 Silicone Impregnated 8-Liter Stuff Sacks|
|– 3M Rain jacket – (Wal-Mart Special)|
|– 1 One-Liter Plastic Bottle|
|– 2 Silicone Impregnated 8-Liter Stuff Sacks|
|Extras on the Pinhoti Trail:
– Olympus Digital Camera
– Bolle sunglasses
– Timex Ironman watch
– Lip Gloss
|Extras on the Pinhoti Trail:
– Olympus Digital Camera and Battery Charger
– Bolle Sunglasses
– Cell Phone and Battery Charger
– Lip Balm
|What We Did Not Carry on the Pinhoti Trail:
– Water Treatment (We just drank from the creeks and streams)
– Stove, Cooking Pot, Utensils
– Tent Stakes
– Extra Clothes
Pinhoti Trail Journal
|Alabama Pinhoti Trail:|
text in black: Billy
text in purple: Ashley
Day 1 – April 2, 2007
Late night packing and getting gear ready for the Pinhoti Trail. We stayed up until 3:00 am trying to find all the gear we were taking. The floors in my house had recently been refinished; so gear had been stored in unlabeled boxes and took time to find what we wanted. Two hours after hitting the bed we were woken up, and jumped in the car. My mother and father were nice enough to drive us here; to an Alabama dirt road with no trail markings. The start of the Pinhoti Trail is a thin tree with one blue blaze – no signs, no mileage marker. Just a random tree a hundred yards off to the right of an unnamed/unmarked gravel road, on top of a hill thirty miles south of Sylacauga, Alabama. Our first sighting of wild animals was a turkey crossing the gravel road as we approached the trailhead to the Pinhoti. We saw more wild turkeys today; one flying away after we had startled it, quite a scare to watch a huge bird run from the bushes and take flight.
We started hiking on the Pinhoti Trail at 8:30am (Alabama time). The trail is well marked with blue blazes. The first real view is Blue Bluff. Fog had set in, surrounding the trail, so we had no view. We had rain showers off and on throughout the day. Finally pulling out the umbrella seemed to stop the most current down pour.
At lunch we got a break in the clouds and had a nice lunch with views at the Heath Cliffs. Forty-five minutes later rain started to drizzle and we scrambled to pack our backpacks and head off down the trail. At home when researching the Pinhoti Trail, Ten miles between water didn’t seem to be a big deal, but this trail seems dry.
We put in 22.2 miles today which was more than I expected. We haven’t seen any other hikers. We did see two people living off a dead-end road at Talladega Creek. After filling up our water bottles, we headed back to the trail. A man with long golden hair flagged us down and seemingly insured us we could stay at his campsite for five dollars. His approach and physical appearance were enough to say “no thanks”.
Tonight we are on a hill tucked away on the side, wondering if we’ll see tomorrow. We’re not real hungry tonight.
Billy and I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to begin our drive to Alabama. Billy’s parents thankfully offered to drop us off at Bulls Gap. The directions we found on the internet led us to a very deserted dirt road. It’s obvious that the Pinhoti Trail is not one of the most popular trails. The so called parking lot doesn’t exist, and there is not one sign to help you out. After looking around for about five minutes Billy spotted a blue blaze on a tree. We then said our goodbyes and started walking. The first thing I noticed about the Pinhoti Trail is that it is a very wooded area, and the ground is covered with a white rock that resembles marble. The trail is marked very well with blue blazes and mile markers.
This being my first real backpacking experience I was winded after the first twenty minutes. After about seven miles we decided to stop for lunch at the Heath Cliffs. The cliffs are a large overhang of rocks with a nice view and a cool breeze. Billy and I then hiked another fifteen miles to the Talladega Creek Bridge. The first thing I noticed was the noise of several barking dogs coming from the only house we saw all day. While we were refilling our water bottles at the nearby creek a scruffy old man chased us down USFS 600 and tried to sell us a campsite for the evening. We quickly retreated and walked another mile and a half to an unknown area where we camped for the night. Nice clear night, but warm temp for sleeping.
Day 2 – April 3, 2007
We went to bed around 8:00 or 9:00 pm and left camp this morning around 8:00am. Last night was quite toasty, but it cooled off during the morning hours. The trail seemed to mainly go uphill today with rocks. It felt much like the Pennsylvania rocks of the Appalachian Trail. Ashley wasn’t feeling well today. Her shoulders were causing her problems because of the continuous rubbing of her backpack’s shoulder straps. I opted to carry her sil nylon bag of food as a relief. Gnats were swarming like mosquitoes, and failed to leave breathing room. We ate, and then dug them out of our mouth, nose, and ears.
Somehow I missed stepping over a rattlesnake. I wouldn’t have noticed if Ashley wouldn’t have seen it, curled up tightly, sitting directly in the middle of the trail. The snake didn’t move his tongue or body as he lay, covered mostly by the leaves. I tried to wake the sleeping giant to see if he was alive. No movement, but I was content to leave it be.
We had some great views off the cliffs today. There is a white haze that may not show the full depth in the photos. A few small separate fires burn in the distance.
Our feet are just smelling wrong.We have only brought two pairs of socks for the five days. Strategy is thought out before discarding the smelly pair for a fresh pair knowing that the fresh pair will have to be worn until we can wash the first pair. We’re five miles from running water and possible resupply at the Cheaha State Park. Ashley still isn’t feeling well. She’s not eating dinner tonight. We are not averaging more than 2 mph, but she keeps hiking. We’re in the mesh again tonight. Hopefully no rain!
I woke up around 7:00 a.m. The previous day we had walked twenty three miles so needless to say when I stood up my body was a bit sore. I had also forgotten how much fun it is to put on dirty socks and shoes first thing in the morning. After we managed to pack up we started walking right away. The first part of the morning we walked through several “rock gardens” which I had never heard of, but look just like they sound. The trail is covered with large rocks and each step is tricky because none of the rocks are very stable. We also encountered our first snake today, a rattlesnake. It was sleeping directly in the center of the trail. The only other animal life I noticed were the gnats. They like to stay in your ears and face all the time.
The rest of the day was filled with a lot of up and down climbing. We stopped near the top of the “Stairway to Heaven” to eat lunch. I wasn’t feeling well at this point, so I was slowing us down a bit. The views from the top of Rocky Top 4 were beautiful. We camped at a large campsite on top of Rocky Top 5. Nice night, so we decided not to put up the tarp.
Day 3 – April 4, 2007
Quite the adventure early this morning: thunder, lightning, and then the storm opened up! Sheets of rain came sideways as we scrambled to get the tarp up. The winds tossed our tarp in a flailing pattern. Ashley didn’t have a clue what to do. I was shouting orders like a captain on a sea-going vessel about to go down in the storm. Our rig however held through the night, much to my surprise. Held together by rocks taken from local fire rings. We carried no stakes on this journey. The ordeal left me completely drenched, and I found it hard to sleep in my soaking clothes. We opted to share one sleeping bag in reasoning not to get both wet, should we survive the night and need to live on.
The 5.6 mile walk to Cheaha State Park was through fog and rain dropping from trees. Alas around noon the sun broke the dreariness, and we arrived at Cheaha State Park. We spent three hours at the park: drying, cleaning, showering, and eating. Hopefully Ashley tells you about her hot pickle experience. The park was what we needed to recoup, even if the walk to the showers was 1.5 miles away. I was able to add some sweets to my diminishing supplies. The store proved to be a well stocked resupply point for future hikers.
Another tick was found on me after lunch, yet not many other animal sightings. We are meshed up tonight, down by a creek that we’ll have to ford tomorrow morning. Why didn’t we put the tarp up tonight?
At about 2:00 a.m. Billy and I were awoken by the loud sound of thunder. By the time we managed to get out of the bug netting to set up the tarp, we were soaked. Thanks to Billy’s quick thinking (he used rocks to secure the tarp) we stayed dry the remainder of the storm. It rained until 8:00 a.m. but it didn’t bother me because I slept until 9:30 a.m.
After drying off what we could, we started walking to our destination- Cheaha State Park. The first place we saw was the Cheaha Trailhead. It’s a really cool arch that was made by local artists and groups of school children. The sidewalk entering the arch has hand prints and feet impressions molded into them. The entrance is made of rock that has molded leaf and flower impressions covering the wall.
The next place we headed was the Country Store. Billy was nearly out of food, and I wanted to find out information about using the showers. The store was a great resupply. It had almost any variety of snack you could think of, and the store also had soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent, scissors…and much more. The park charged us $2.00 each to use the showers. It was a mile walk to the showers. A great price, but I wished I would have known the park didn’t have complimentary towels or soap. Either way it is the best $2.00 I have spent in a while. After getting cleaned up and drying out the tarp, we headed back to the trail, and walked another 8 miles to a large campsite near Hillabee Creek. It was the nicest day so far for hiking, and no gnats.
Day 4 – April 5, 2007
It didn’t rain on us, but the temperature dropped in the 30’s. We probably got 7 miles done by noon. Good finish for the day to get almost 19 miles walked. We finally got to I-20 where I called my father to see if he wanted to pick us up here. I was worried about the USFS 500 we were to be picked up at tomorrow. The cell phone was half dead at this point. The weather was in between shorts and shirt, pants and jacket. It’s going to be colder tonight. We’re by a fairly busy railroad. Four or five trains blasted their horns as they passed by.
We awoke to a very chilly morning. As soon as we packed up everything Hillabee Creek was directly in front of us. It’s always nice to ford a creek at 7:00 a.m. when it’s thirty-five degrees outside. My feet were freezing. It started to warm up a little around lunch time where Billy and I saw the first waterfall on the trail.
After lunch we continued walking and came across two large southern gas pipelines. The fist one, the Colonial Pipeline, runs from texas to New England. And then the Plantation Pipeline runs all the way from Louisiana to Virginia. We also crossed over I- 281 and I – 20. Once we had walked about eighteen miles I was tired and asked Billy to stop and camp near a really loud railroad. It was the coldest night yet. I was so glad Billy brought his down vest (and let me use it). Tomorrow is our last day and we have to hike at least fifteen miles by 4:00 p.m. to meet Billy’s parents. My knee is killing me and I haven’t been walking at my normal speed.
Day 5 – April 6, 2007
Miles: 13.3 by 2:00pm
In bed by 8:00pm last night, we finished the 13.3 miles in good shape and by 2:00pm. We took a short break where I only had a snickers bar and Ashley was sick of all her food, so lunch maybe lasted 25 minutes. We were within 2 miles from Pine Glen Campground and I tried calling my parents to let them know we finished early, but I couldn’t find cell service the entire way. Pine Glen is a beautiful campground with stone picnic tables nestled among trees, but I worried my parents wouldn’t find us here. The campground, as I would find out, sits miles off gravel roads from a paved road. It happened two scientist were leaving the campground as we walked up. I asked for directions to the nearest city; with a smirk, one scientist said, “There really isn’t one.” Willing to take us back to civilization, we gladly took the hitch; hopefully making it easier for my parents to find us. This would be Ashley’s first hitch. After a blown tire on their trailer, we slowly hobbled in to the Camping World parking lot off of I-20 Exit 188 in Oxford, Alabama. Ashley and I set off walking back to I-20 after thanking our new friends for the trail magic. Lunch/Dinner at the local Sonny’s was delightful. Ashley seemed to come around and regain her appetite. We called my parents and waited around for our pickup. More of the Pinhoti Trail is left to hike. See you soon.
I woke up around 6:30 am, but it was really cold so I stayed in my sleeping bag until 8:00 a.m. I think the motivation of different food and a hot shower kept me moving at a decent pace most of the morning. Billy and I walked ten miles before lunch. It was freezing and very windy most of the day. This part of the Pinhoti Trail was recently burned by a forest fire. The trees were black and it smelled like burnt wood. After taking a short break so Billy could eat his last candy bar (he was literally out of food) we walked another two miles to the Pine Glen Campground.
The campground is beautiful, but there are not very many campers at this time of the year. As we were walking around we saw two men loading up a large truck. Billy asked them for directions to the nearest known road. Thankfully they offered us a ride to I-20. Before I knew it we were eating at Sonny’s BBQ Pit. All that was left was to wait until 6:00 p.m. for Billy’s parents to arrive. We ended up waiting in the Cracker Barrel parking lot for about an hour. Billy’s parents found us without any trouble.
In conclusion the Pinhoti Trail is a great beginner trail. Billy and I made it the entire week without seeing more than two people on the actual trail. There’s not a lot of wildlife but the trail is well maintained and marked.
February 29, 2008
My parents dropped us off Friday night at 9:15pm to start another trek along the Pinhoti Trail. The drive to Oxford, Alabama was after work and on to the twisting gravel stumbling pitch black Forest Service road 500 that takes you two miles in to the woods to reach Pine Glen Campground. Seeing three fires burning in Pine Glen Campground, we’ve opted to head further down the trail in the sprinkling rain. It’s 10:15pm and we are three-tenths of a mile from Pine Glen Campground. We are out here to spend 5 days and hike another 100 miles of the Pinhoti Trail. Weather may be an issue on Monday and Tuesday as the forecast calls for thunderstorms, snow, and 29 degree nights. Today I spent the day adding tie-outs to the new 8 X 10 tarp I received for Christmas. Unfortunately we didn’t seam seal. Be sure to check out Ashley’s sleeping bag for our Pinhoti Trail trek.
Billy’s parents somehow manage to get Billy and I to the exact spot where we got off the trail on our last trip. It’s dark, drizzling and we’ve just figured out that Pine Glenn Campground is more popular than expected. We then said thanks, and goodbye to Billy’s parents around 10:00 p.m. and then we started walking. Thankfully about a quarter of a mile later we find a nice place to camp. It feels great to be in the woods again. Billy received a new tarp for Christmas and it seems much more spacious than his previous tarp. The newly added tie-outs could be the reason. I am trying out my new sleeping bag that I adapted myself. My bag now weighs the same as Billy’s PureBound bag. Let’s hope it keeps me warm this week.
Day 6 – March 1 , 2008
We started hiking around 7:20(CT). Rain sprinkled on and off which proved to be a great test for the new tarp, and I was surprised we ended up being the only dry spot on the ground, the seams did not seem to bring any water inside the tarp. The early start proved to be a help as we were able to complete 20 miles by 6:00pm (CT). Great scenery today with lakes, a creek walk-by and a church built in the late 1800’s. Just before lunch we met trail maintenance from the Appalachian Trail doing a small part of their 54-mile section of the Pinhoti Trail. We were told to send an email if we ran into any trees that had been blown down from the recent storms. User beware: the trail falls apart just before Jones Branch Road and we ended up bushwhacking a quarter of a mile around a fortress of fallen trees. We’re low on water and have a 3.9 mile stretch to the next source. Confused that Jones Branch wasn’t a real road, but more of a barely visible old log road, we missed our chance for water.
We’re out just in the bug netting tonight, hidden on an old dirt road near Dugger Gap. I’ve hung the tarp between trees to dry out from last night, I had to convert (tell) Ashley we should just try the bug netting without the tarp. Stars are all over…let’s just hope it doesn’t rain.
Woke up early to get a good start on the trail. I knew we were planning to hike at least 18 miles a day and I haven’t walked anywhere in months. The excitement of being on the Pinhoti Trail and the great weather keeps me in good spirits. I am not moving as fast as Billy wanted me to, but I am trying. This trip the scenery proves to be much more beautiful, yet this beauty has brought more people. We past two large camping groups around Sweetwater Lake. One camper kindly warns us that it was “Hog Hunting Season” and to beware of hunters. I couldn’t tell if the gentleman was being a smart ass or not. We also see several newly built shelters and Shoal Creek Church. The church door was open so Billy and I went in to take several photos. The sign stated that every Labor Day singing is still held there.
We run into some trail maintenance workers that we very nice and ask us to “email them” if we see any down trees. We have no idea what is to come later this afternoon. One minute we are walking down the trail and then I looked 20 feet ahead of us there are 30 to 40 trees down in front of us. It seemed like a never ending row of trees. Billy eventually finds his way around the trees but my path leads me to scratching up my legs and ankles on the downed trees and briars.
We find a great spot to camp around 6:30 p.m. once again and the sky is absolutely beautiful, stars are everywhere. I hope this weather lasts. The forecast has predicted snow on Monday. The last time we chanced the rain we ended up getting soaked at 2:00 a.m. in the morning. The sky is amazing and worth getting wet.
Day 7 – March 2, 2008
On the trail by 8:30am(CT). Ashley starts off the day with a fall in the muddy creek, getting her camera wet and muddy. Her shorts have a mud print on the back (check photos). Today, most creek crossings will be a challenge for her. Several falls have Ashley weary when crossing. The leaves are abundant and cover the trail similar to a foot of fresh snow. The leaves prove to be slippery and dangerous as well. I even bust a fall on a decent today, giving Ashley a laugh.
This was the first day of real climbing and still proved hot even though a stormy cold front is to be here by Tuesday. Lunch was on top of Oakley Mountain were we smelled smoke and saw a fire pouring out white smoke a few miles in the distance. A little worried I wondered if we would continue hiking towards the smoke, but we didn’t and instead started heading northeast again. We saw 5-6 turkey fly off from the floor in a slow struggling matter.
We crossed the Silver Comet Trail which brought the easiest hiking yet; and a feeling of being close to home. Our first sign of people were a few bicyclists on the Silver Comet. We didn’t see any hiker until after 5:00(CT) near the Ferguson Memorial (Two Guys, and a mother and daughter with 2 kids). Out in the mesh again tonight.
Once again we are up with the sun to get on the Pinhoti Trail again. My legs are in shock. Every time I try to walk they tighten up on me. It’s like they are telling me, “Please don’t walk anymore, give us a break!” We start out with climbing up and down hills that last most of the day. We walked on the Silver Comet trail which runs through my back yard in Smyrna, Georgia. This section of the Silver Comet is much nicer and looks to be traveled by mostly bikers. It was a nice break for me, I needed some flat walking to boost my spirits. Billy is hard to keep up with. My sleeping bag is working well and proves to be one my favorite piece of gear. I have now used up all my camera memory and need new batteries. This is going to be hard to fix because we’re not sure if there are any major stores in Cave Springs.
We have found a nice campsite near water (Lanie Hollow). I’m very tired and have a hard time keeping my journal up-to-date My feet smell and I want a shower.
Day 8 – March 3, 2008
Around 1:00am to 2:00am Ashley wakes me up to 10 to 20 screaming wolves that were either being slaughtered or having a party. Worried about us being the next victim…then all of a sudden the howling stopped. Falling back to sleep, I assumed hours passed as I woke up to wolves surrounding our campsite. I immediately turned to warn Ashley, but found I had no words escaping from my mouth. I continued to call out to her, but found my lips were sealed. I screamed and screamed, but nothing escaped to warn her of the oncoming danger. There was a black wolf standing thirty feet from us- I was unable to scream! I was mute, and couldn’t verbally react to the threat. Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up!
Fortunately waking me from my nightmare was Ashley telling me there were lights coming this way. I woke to a herd of lights on an adjacent hillside. I thought it may be a search party, but quickly determined it to be a hillside fire. The light coming off was flickering through the trees as it moved up the mountain. Afraid we may be trapped I decided we should pack up and wait until we knew more about the fire and our safety. Seeing the fire yesterday had me very anxious. We sat ready to retreat as we watched the fire flicker and seem to die down and then revamp its anger, we debated on whether we should leave now or wait until daylight. Staying meant if we fell back to sleep, we might oversleep our escape. We did not know whether the trail headed toward the fire or away, so staying put until daylight seemed reasonable.
Sitting there with packed gear, we tried to analyze our options and the oncoming fire. Thirty minutes to an hour we watched as the fire seemed to move up the mountain. Finally reality struck as the shape of the moon could be identified. Exhausted I went back to sleep ashamed I let the moon fool me for so long.
On a side note- Many readers may wonder why my dream was so crazy. The truth is, many hikers experience what Ben and I call “Crazy Dreams” while on the trail. The dreams are so wild and random; unmatched to the weirdest dreams you’ll find at home. You have to experience it, to believe it.
We’ve made it 23 miles into town after hitting the last portion of the Pinhoti Trail at 5:20. As the Pinhoti Trail ends on a dirt road, we scatterbrainly decide to walk the last 7.8 miles in to Cave Springs, GA to stay in a motel instead of backtracking or sleeping worried if we were on private property or not. Storms are looming of hail, snow, and tornadoes may have pushed us on. As we paced along the roads, we worried about getting lost with the Pinhoti Trail’s lack of signage. The road walk leads through dirt roads with trash dispensed along the sides, a junk yard, by houses where dogs seemed to want to attack us at any moment as they barked and growled while following us at our heels up the street. Continually worried about taking a wrong turn or missing one, I called my mom to find out if vacancies were available for us and how far away from town the motel is located. The road walking at night proved to be an adventure itself with the lack of shoulders and the vehicles not being able to see us. I am pretty sure I put Ashley to the test with an 8 mile ending road walk where we pushed close to three miles an hour with pounding feet against the asphalt. We stayed at the only place in Cave Springs, Creekside Inn at $42 a night, and everything closes at 8:00 p.m. Not so great when you show up at 8:01 p.m.
Woken up several times throughout the night by scary howling wolves, and then again by what I thought to be a nearby camp fire. We never encounter the wolves or figure out what made them so upset, but it turns out the so called fire was the moon shining through the trees. Feeling irritated after packing up all my gear I finally fall back to sleep after feeling really stupid. Woke up again around 9:00 a.m. My legs are still really sore and tight. Note to self: WALK MORE AT HOME. The continuous up hills and rock paths are not making my feet or legs any better.
After thinking the day of walking is finished; we get the crazy idea that we should hike 7 more miles into town…in the dark…on the road…with lots and lots of cars. This is my first road walking experience. I don’t believe I will forget it anytime soon. We are now in town and have decided to stay at the only hotel in Cave Springs, The Creekside Inn. This is not a five star hotel but I am excited about a shower and having shelter from the oncoming storms. I think Billy is disappointed with town. All restaurants and convenience stores close at 8:00 p.m. sharp. We arrived at 8:05 p.m. to catch a few employees locking their doors. We settle for snacks from the only gas station that let us in. They promptly turn off the lights after we walk out the door.
Unfortunately information today is widely scattered among many websites that are seldom updated. Here are a few websites that proved to provide useful and current information about the Pinhoti Trail:
Pinhoti Trail Online Community
http://www.pinhotitrailalliance.org/sitemap.html (Find the most abundant info for the Alabama Pinhoti Trail in one place.)