May 28 – 29, 2010

Cheaha Wilderness

Matthew and I loaded up the truck and went for a good breakfast early Friday morning and then took off to Cheaha State Park around 9 am. Before we left I made sure Matthews pack fit him well, and it was comfy for him. He carried some extra clothes, his sleeping bag, pad, and a pillow along with 1 liter of water in a Camelbak bladder. There were a few other small things in there too. His pack weighed about 11.5 pounds, which is more than I had liked, but it was because I decided to let him carry the water bladder at the end.

Matthew's packed up and ready to go.

So, we headed out. It was about a 4 hour drive, but we took it slow, and made a few stops on the way. We arrived in the park just before 2 pm. As we were driving to the park store where we were meeting up with MississippiRob and HoboSteph we hit a little bit of rain for the first time on our trip. This was saying something considering thunderstorms were forecast for the entire trip.

Once we arrived at the store we went in and got some extra drinks and used the bathroom for the last time. While I was waiting in line to pay for the drinks, the bottom fell out of the sky. I hurried along and began to head outside to the truck to get our rain gear out, and once I walked outside I noticed the sky was also dumping dime-sized hail on us! So, we got to the truck, and got our rain gear out. By the time I got Matthew in his, them me in mine it had let up. So, we kept the pants on and shed the jackets. Rob & Steph arrived about 10 minutes later, and then we headed to the Chinabee-Silent trail head parking lot.

Getting ready at the Chinabee-Silent trail head parking lot.

So, we got all our stuff together, got our packs on and took off down the trail. About 1/8th of a mile into the trail we came across the Turnipseed camp site. There were a few people with tents set up, but we didn’t hang around. We just passed through. Shortly after this we came to an information stand with a map and other tidbits of info posted on the area, then shortly after that we crossed a small stream heading up into the wilderness area.

Crossing the stream near Turnipseed Camp Site

After we crossed the stream, it turned into an uphill journey. This is where the fun began. The trail consisted of some good switchbacks, but still it was a chore with a pack on. None-the-less, it was worth it. Soon we began hitting large rocky areas. These areas were fun, and I could not help but think of the legendary rocky area of the AT in Pennsylvania. Matthew liked them, but I was a little worried that it was a little dangerous. However, it went good. After a while Matthew and I decided to remove our rain pants since it was not raining at the moment, but it was definitely warm with them on.

The rocks on the Chinabee-Silent Trail

More rocks on the Chinabee-Silent Trail

We moved right along, enjoying the company with MississippiRob and HoboSteph. As we got closer to the Pinhoti trail near the summit of the mountain, the switchbacks seemed to grow more vertical than horizontal, which made it a little more breathtaking. But we marched on. At the top of the mountain Cgaphiker and Bateauxdriver and his son were waiting on us. We kept on climbing, and the Rob said that he smelled a campfire, and soon after I did too. Next thing we saw Bateauxdriver standing atop a large rock above us and kindly let us know that the campsite was about 100 feet further. This was music to our ears.

So we got to camp and unloaded our packs. We all introduced ourselves and talked for a moment, then I began to look for a suitable site to pitch my tarp. I was a little nervous that this was my first backpack trip with it, so I was ready to get it pitched to make any necessary adjustments while there was still light in the sky, and it was free of falling water. After walking around for what seemed like a long time, I finally decided on a site. It had a slight slope to it, but it was the best that I had, so while Matthew was running around flipping out of trees, I was pitching my tarp. Rob and Steph were pitching their tent, and Cgap was doing the same.

The tarp is ready for the night

Cgaps home sweet home.

Once I got the tarp pitched and everything under it to the best of my ability, I decided I would go ahead and do dinner. I was excited about this as well since I was getting to use my White Box Stove and my GSI Kettle to cook our dinner. I got the stove going and waited on it to blossom, and then set my kettle over it. The wind was blowing slightly so I sat with me between the wind and the stove for extra wind-screening.

The Original White Box Stove & the GSI Kettle in action.

Matthew was excited about bringing his hammock that I had made him, so I let him act as the windscreen for a moment, and I hung his hammock. He was excited and jumped right in. He wanted to sleep in the hammock, but I told him that since it was going to be raining, that probably wouldn’t be a great idea, but maybe next time.

Matthew's chilling in his hammock

So by the time I got back to the kitchen, the water was good and boiling. I did not time it, but it was less than 10 minutes from the time I set the kettle over the stove to the boil time. And the water was pretty cold too since I just dipped some out of the stream near the camp site. So, I added the water to our meals in Ziploc bags, and then waited about 15 minutes. We had the Lipton Knor side, Alfredo & Broccoli and it did not turn out good at all. So we ended up eating our brownies and Fruit Roll-Ups, so it turned out good anyway. (I am still trying to get the water ratio right for the FBC which does not seem to be the equivalent as to the amount it would get for actually boiling. And the noodles just tasted like wet flour-y goop! Yuck.)

After everyone ate we set around the fire for a while and talked. I ended up going back to my little camp area and tried to get all our stuff situated before the rain hit. Being in the tarp I wanted to be sure I had it all how it needed to be, especially with all the rumbling the sky began to start making again.

I got all our sleeping pads and bags sorted under the tarp, and hung the food bag in the Outsak UL. For this trip I carried along my Exped Synmat, the jag bag silk liner, and the GoLite RS 1+ Season quilt. I used a piece of Tyvek as my floor under the tarp. My son used his Therm-A-Rest Z Lite and his North Face Tigger bag. After I emptied our packs of all that we would need, I cinched them up in the rain covers and placed them at the foot of the tarp to kind of fill in some space to keep water out.

Around 8:30, the rain began and we all soon retired to our quarters. Matthew and I laid under the tarp and listened to the rain. It rained good for about an hour and a half then pretty much quit. I watched the rain roll down the tarp then drip off the tarp onto the ground and then it rolled under the tarp with me, however the ground soaked up most of it. I did notice some going under the Tyvek, and at one point when I got up to answer the call of nature I looked under my pad and noticed a small wet spot on my pad about 6 inches in diameter at about the area where my butt was. It turned out good through, and it didn’t really rain much throughout the rest of the night, maybe a few small showers.

Morning came around 6:30, and Matthew was ready to go play. I got up and got the food bag down and got our breakfast out. I went and scooped up some more water in my kettle and in my Gatorade bottle. I got my kitchen going, and mixed my Aqua Mira to treat the water in the Gatorade bottle so I could mix a Kool-Aid packet in it for a breakfast drink. While the water was being treated, and the other was coming to a boil I wiped some of the water off of my tarp.

For breakfast I had the Mountain House eggs and bacon with some mashed potatoes and put it on flour tortillas. Again, very not impressed. I have a lot to learn in the cooking part. So, got my coffee made, and enjoyed it. Then I cleaned up my breakfast, and began to pack up everything under my tarp. I left the tarp set up to dry and joined the rest of the group by the fire that Bateauxdrivers son had gotten going again.

Bateauxdriver, Cgaphiker & MississippiRob

We were waiting on Hiking Tiger and his 3 boys to meet us at camp and then we were going to all hike out together. While we were waiting a young lady and her 2 dogs came up to the camp. Turns out, she was the girl from the Southern Backpacker site that was meeting us. She informed us that she had passed Hiking Tiger and his boys so we knew they were on their way. Shortly after they arrived and the kids played with each other for a little while and we all introduced ourselves to Hiking Tiger, another Backpacker.com forum member.

Hiking Tigers Boys & Matthew

The kids are manning the fire.

Matthew

So around noon we all pulled our packs back on and took off down the Pinhoti. Our destination was to a campground on the other side of Adams Gap.

We left at the right time too. About 10 or 15 minutes after leaving, the rain began to come. Some went ahead and threw on their ponchos, and others didn’t. Matthew and I did not. At first the rain was not too bad, but it quickly got worse. Next thing we knew we were in the middle of the storm. The sky was grumbling, and spitting tons of rain down on us. Both Matthew and I were soaked from head to toe.

The trip kind of went down hill from this point. Matthews shoes were worn out and offered no traction on the now slick wet rocks, and he took a fall a few times. Each time I worried but he always jumped back up. A little later Steph pointed out that he was limping a little, and I knew at that point he was ready to be done. I took his pack and carried it, and Steph actually picked him up and carried him. After a while he began to walk again, and I carried his pack.

The rain let up after a while. The girl we had met had turned around earlier because the thunder and lightning was freaking out her dogs, Bateauxdriver and his son had pulled ahead, Rob and Steph were with Matthew and I and Hiking Tiger and his sons, and Cgap were somewhere behind us. We came to a nice little rock to climb up and get a great view. With the sky cleared off a little it provided a beautiful view. One that makes the trips worth it.

So, Matthew and I pulled ahead a little ways and caught up with Bateauxdriver and his son. Then we began descending the mountain in some treacherous rock laden switchbacks. Not to mention the rocks were wet and slippery. Matthew fell again, this time hitting his back on the edge of a rock, and at this point it was only reaffirmation that he was ready to be done. The rain had killed the trip for him. The rock did not hurt his back to much, and he got over it. I carried his pack for a while longer, and then we stopped for a small break. We saw Rob and Steph descending the mountain, but this was the last time we would see them until they came out at Adams Gap. We still had not seen Cgap or Hiking Tiger, and once we stopped Bateauxdriver and his son pulled ahead of us again. From this point on we hiked by ourselves until Adams gap.

After descending the mountain the terrain was a little less challenging. We still hit sections with lots of rocks, but also sections on the ridge of a mountain with some sunlight and a padded pine needle trail. There were some very beautiful parts to the trail, but also some challenging parts, especially for a kid, or for an adult that hasn’t been out in a while for that matter! We marched on, and after a while I began wondering if we had missed a trail. We were still on the Pinhoti, but I wondered if we had gone to far. So, I pulled out my phone, and located where I was using the Google Maps app. I then compared that map to my trail map, and was relived to see that we only had about 45 more minutes of hiking before we reached Adams Gap. So, we didn’t miss the trail! And on top of that, we were beginning to dry out!

About 20 minutes later we met another hiker and he told us that he had met Bateauxdriver and his son about 15 minutes earlier at Adams Gap. Shortly after this, the rain came again and in 10 more minutes we were completely soaked again. 10 minutes after that we came out at Adams Gap. Bateauxdriver was laying on the ground with his poncho draped over him just waiting, and his son had his poncho draped over some tree limbs and was trying to stay dry underneath it. We talked with them for a minute, then dug a snack for Matthew and I out of my pack. We decided to road hike the nearly 4 miles back to the truck, and call it a trip. I told Bateauxdriver that we would come back if anyone needed a ride back after we got our truck, and then we walked some more.

The road hike was long, and wet. Those 4 miles were long. I knew Matthew was wore out, and his feet hurt because I was and mine did. He had taken his pack back on the trail, but I took it back from him again on the road. I felt bad for the little guy, but he was a trooper and he marched on.

Just as we were getting to the parking area, we could see Bateauxdriver and his son coming up behind us. They made it to the parking area just after we did, and they got their van and headed back to Adams Gap. Matthew and I changed into dry clothes and then headed to Adams Gap as well. We met Bateauxdriver and Rob headed back to the Turnipseed parking area to get their truck so we waited at Adams Gap. Rob and Steph came back in their truck and said they were waiting on Cgap and Hiking Tiger and his gang to come out and see what they wanted to do. I told them we were going to go ahead and head back home.So, we said our goodbyes, and thus ended another hike.

Thanks for reading. MississippiRob has posted a TR beginning here as well with more pics.

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