Ah yes, another blaze.
DAY SEVEN TRIP 142
TRAIL BMT Watson Gap/BMT Pinhoti/Pinhoti
CAMP Pinhoti near Buddy Cove Gap
I'm up at first light and it seems cold as the bag has a tiny amount of moisture on its shell. My job is to pack without tea or food and eat on the trail as I hike. The hardest part is leaving in minimal clothing but at least none of it is wet. The first objective is FS 64 at Watson Gap, the second is the Pinhoti jct. The third is taking the Pinhoti to Buddy Cove Gap on FS64. Let's try to get packed and moving at 7:30 in the morning.
Sgt Rock sort of drops the ball in Watson Gap as there's no mention of pulling a roadwalk or reaching an intersection of 4 roads or of the giant Cohutta sign in the intersection. Plus, anyone going north on the BMT will have no way of knowing that the trail goes up on a dirt road and not left on Foster Branch road or right on the "To Blue Ridge" road as there's not a single visible white blaze anywhere heading north (up the dirt road). Good luck boys. His guide needs some work here for sure although the guide I am using is several years old.
After Watson Gap the BMT drops to the South Fork of Jacks River and the big important jct with the northern terminus of the Pinhoti trail. I dump the pack for 10 minutes and then proceed to go south on the Pinhoti and immediately have to put on the red crocs to cross a calf deep and swift Jacks River. That done the Pinhoti crosses a smaller creek (and I had to get 52 oz of water) and then gets on a wide logging cut and climbs steeply and it's on this cut that I have stopped in the warm sun to take a break. I have enough water to camp at various wildlife openings or keep going to Buddy Cove Gap on FS 64, the same road at Watson Gap. If ya make a left at the gap you end up at Dyer Gap and the BMT. If ya turn right you reach 3 Forks Mt, my goal for today I think. Wish me luck. I have a turtlehead poking out but I'm in no mood to squat. If I find an excellent site I'll camp, if not it's onward yogic soldiers.
IT'S AN EXACT SCIENCE
I kid you not, at the exact time I got the tent set up and the bag shook and camp completely squared away the rain opens up in a cold wind but all I have to do is zip the vesti door shut and I'm in newt heaven. Where am I?
I pulled a 7.4 mile day and now sit on the Pinhoti trail just a little bit north of Buddy Cove Gap. My grand plan to get to 3 Forks Mt and camp on East Cowpen or Rough Ridge is over as I hit the physical wall about a tenth of a mile back and so I dumped the pack and dayhiked to this spot and discovered a blue line creek on my map and POW! Down the hollow from this logging cut camp I saw water so I gotta camp here although the water is a hundred feet down a steep rhodo choked hill. I don't need water yet but if I do it's right close. I walked 6 hours today and I'm bushed. 7.4 miles ain't bad on brand new trail. The Pinhoti is open to horses and bicycles but so far I've seen nothing. Let's eat!
The Pinhoti trail is graced by a giant turtlehead coming in at 12.4 lbs and a Cohutta pipeline was laid in intervals to let the caribou pass. People get in deep trouble for inserting objects into their rectums but what came out of me was weeks in the making and almost required emergency surgery to extricate. If a physician saw it he'd swear I inserted it beforehand but not so!
TWO LOST BICYCLISTS AND A BUTT COLD RAIN
An hour ago 2 bicyclists came down from Buddy Cove Gap and said they were lost and wanted to get back to Bear Branch campground. The only Bear Branch I know about is where I was last night. Anyway, they were determined to go north on the Pinhoti and down hill, the same way I came up. Then 20 minutes later they sheepishly walk by with their bikes and want to see my map again. They return to FS 64 and Buddy Cove and then 20 minutes later a nasty butt cold rain hits the forest but they had no protection whatsoever. When I first saw them I told them to go back the way they came and maybe they did. Who knows? This ass cold rain will stop soon as the sun is out and yet it still rains. Panamanian weird. Anyway, the poor cold boys are god only knows where and should return to 3 Forks Mt on the road they came from and go back the same way.
Michael Ray on BPL.Com asks, "Is There a Decent Non-Lightweight Forum?" (1/21/13) and several BPL forum members get introspective and comment about the site itself. They all try to bring the person starting the thread back around to BPL and have some interesting things to say.
Spelt says, "Just avoid the gear-related forums and you'll avoid the vast majority of the gram weenie talk. I think it's great that BPL has space for people to geek out and get contentious over that stuff, but it's not relevant to your goals, so just don't read it."
Just don't read it? It's often difficult to find daily recent posts that aren't gear obsessed.
Greg Gressel adds, "Once you have it locked you will likely start losing interest in this site because it's so gear focused and many hit the point where gear selection is over, time to focus on hiking."
This seems very reasonable---time to dump the spreadsheets and gram scales and go hiking.
Dean Fellabaum disrespects Whiteblaze (don't they all?) and then adds, "But don't be put off by the fanatics here. I went the fanatical route, and for the past two years my pack has only gotten heavier as I step back from the ledge a bit."
Jim Colten knows how extreme BPL can get and says, "I second the suggestion that you not be scared off by our extremes here. If anyone suggests that you need to meet a particular pack weight goal just politely remind them that it is your hike, not theirs."
Scott Waldrop caps it off with this excellent post: "I've been here awhile; my experience is that many folk are over-zealous when they first begin ascribing to lightweight principles. They ofter tend to proselytize about their relatively new philosophy, and can come off as being pretty arrogant. Many of these folks don't have enough knowledge or experience to realistically critique their own gearlist for a given trip in given conditions, much less someone elses'. So they preach away about how there are better options for everything in your pack based solely on weight, not because they have experience with some certain piece of gear, but because they can read the spec sheet. Ignore these people."
All quotes from http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=72520&disable_pagination=1
RAIN COMES AND GOES
There's blue, there's clouds, there's rain and wind and deepening cold. Patman left me a message and it popped up on my phone as soon as I could get a signal so I left him a garbled message about being on the Pinhoti near Buddy Cove Gap and heading towards 3 Forks Mt. Problem is I have 2 numbers with 865 area codes and one is his and one is Hootyhoo so I call neither. Little Mitten left me a sweet message on Valentine's Day since I left here a "Be Mine" series of computer generated cards which really struck her heartchord in a good way.
POT COZY RECON
I leave camp and climb strenuously up the last of my section of the Pinhoti and quickly arrive at a sign and a bar gate and then FS 64 with a side road to a parking lot with a kiosk for Buddy Cove Gap. So, tomorrow's hike won't be bad as I'm already at the road and close to 3 Forks Mt. Thankfully the forest boys keep this place well marked though I think the road is closed for the winter due to weather damage.
McDougall's tomato soup with goat butter and cheese and a small amount of spaghetti.
A WINTER SKY
Now I'm getting Atlanta weather and it's calling for very cold temps tomorrow and Sunday. Yippee! Maybe even snow! Rain now, my camp is getting hit with a winter mix and sounds great.
CONNECTING DALLY GAP TO BETTY GAP
There are 2 ways to do this on foot---
** The way I'm doing it on the BMT from Dally to Watson to Pinhoti jct. Take Pinhoti to Buddy Cove and take 64 to 3 Forks and beyond to Betty.
** On some old topo maps there's a trail in Watson Gap off Foster Branch road which peters out but a faint trail continues. Foster road parallels the west fork of Jacks River and then parallels Foster Branch where it becomes a foot trail up Foster Creek and beyond to climb steeply and merge with the East Cowpen trail .4 tenths of a mile beyond 3 Forks Mt. It looks to be a 1930's era hell slog. Topo maps are dangerous drugs---don't overdose!
My route is okay because it's on cleared trail with no surprises except the nasty surprise that the Pinhoti going south from the BMT jct is entirely uphill and most of it on a 50 foot wide Abrams tank logging cut. It's nasty. The lost bicyclists also make it known that the long Georgia section of the Pin is pretty much ruined for primitive backpacking as their wheeled contraptions zoom by like I'm sitting under a courthouse bush surrounded by traffic. Thankfully these wheel addicted can't enter where I'm going in the Cohutta. It's dark and it's time to curl up and get warm cuz it's cold out here, boys. Sleet or snow or something hits the tent as I sit on the Pin trail in the middle of no where.
9 P.M. CALL OUT TO LITTLE MITTEN AND ZOE DOG
Yup, I have 2 bars or reception here near Buddy Cove and get a call out to my valentine Mitten and all's well in the Riceville quadrant of TN. We're pretty far apart but my journey back north begins tomorrow god willing and this cold rain stops.