BENTON MACKAYE TRAIL, SECTION 9-10 TRIP REPORT – MARCH 8, 2015

Sunday 3/08/15 (Atlanta/Ellijay) Sunny and clear with temps to upper 60’s H, 30’s L.

Left the house by 7:10am this morning to meet Joe DeLisle at the QT off Exit 1 at I-575 for a hike on the Benton MacKaye Trail. Daylight savings kicked in today, so it was still dark when I left the house. Joe was pumping gas when I arrived at the QT, so I loaded up on breakfast, lunch, and miscellaneous snacks for they afternoon – three QT squares – then took the Pilot across the parking lot to a shopping center to leave it for the day.

Boone and I jumped in with Joe (and his dog Rady) for the ride, and it took us about two hours to reach his cabin (near Watson Gap in the Cohutta Wilderness). Stopped about 0.3 miles short of Joe’s cabin to load his tractor on the trailer – which was stored at friend’s cabin – but the ignition wouldn’t turn over. So we hooked up a battery charger and drove on to his cabin to check it out.

The cabin has no electric, no running water, and is very Spartan. But everything checked out – and a trip across the stream to a friend’s (much fancier) cabin showed the same. That done, we headed back to the tractor, failed again to start it, then hit the trail.

It was cold and about 10am when we started the bushwack up an old wagon road. Yet I shed my down vest and black fleece before we reached the ridge. Boone was having a blast with Rady, but continued to come back to check on me during the climb.

On the ridge, we joined up with an old forest road and dropped down to the Jack’s River in the Cohutta Wilderness. The hiking got much easier from this point on as we hiked the Jack’s River Trail to the Benton MacKaye Trail and eventually dropped down to the South Fork Trail (which shared some of the Pinhoti Trail and it’s northern terminus). It was a nice loop – but not one that I would want to do in the summer or with lots of vegetation on the trees.

We took a snack break at the junction of the Jacks River Trail and the BMT, then a longer lunch break when we reached a stream crossing on the South Fork Trail. The temps warmed up quickly as the day pressed on and I was hiking in shorts and a T-shirt by the time we took lunch around 1pm.

The last two miles of the hike were on forest roads and through private property – and I was glad that we knocked out the tough stuff first. By the time we finished the loop (about 9.7 miles according to Joe’s GPS), I was damn tired. We finished back at his friend’s cabin then tried unsuccessfully to start the tractor again. After a relaxing rest on a weight bench (that had the back and leg supports positioned perfectly), we pushed the tractor on to the trailer and drove the short distance to Herdis’ house to deliver a Public cake that Joe picked up for his wife. Herdis’ family owned Joe’s house and land before they sold it in 2008 and we chatted with them for 20 minutes before he offered up a sack of potatoes for the road.

Left the area by 4:45pm and made it home by 7pm. I nearly fell asleep in the super heated Herdis house and was glad that Joe was driving us home. Picked up the Pilot without incident and made it home in time to have dinner with the kids. Tucked them in to bed around 8:30pm then sacked out early tonight. Even Boone was tired and spent most of the next 24 hours sleeping!


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