Just Jeff's Hiking Page

"Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose
we came from the woods originally."

- John Muir

Foothills Trail
Day 2 - Sunday, 1 May 2005

Todayís miles: 16.0
Trip miles: 20.5

Iím lounging in my hammock, no tarp, next to Laurel Fork Creek and watching my own personal 50í triple cascade waterfall.

Itís so nice out here: sunny, 75F high and perfect today. I was only in earshot of the road around Chimneytop Gap and I can hear a car now, but most of the trip has only been nature sounds and the occasional airplane. Walking next to Laurel Fork Creek was so peaceful. The temp dropped a few degrees, the water was gurgling, and I put away some miles on the relatively level ground. A few hard climbs before the campsite, though.

I got up in the middle of the night last night to lower my tarp and a black salamander was crawling on my food bagÖthat was kinda cool so I left him there. He was gone in the morning.

Iím doing an experiment Ė not treating my water. Iíll let you know in two weeks how it turns out! Iím just filling up where I can see it coming out of the rocks or from underground (which is pretty often up here), and Iíll see how it turns out.

Nature's Gift
(bottle not included)

My other experiment is the Hammock Sock. This morning it was 55F inside the sock. The sun was up, so I got up and started getting ready. About 15 minutes later, it was 45F outside. Thatís 10 degrees of warmth. I had no visible condensation inside the sock, and it was pulled up over my head for most of the night. Humidity was high both inside and outside the sock.

I hit the state high point today: Sassafras Mountain (3554 feet), where I saw some of the chestnut trees that survived the 1930s chestnut blight (which I hadnít known about but Iím so glad these ones survived so I had something to read in the guide during lunch). I ate lunch up there (Bagel, Peanut Butter, Nutella) and signed the summit register.

A cool thing happened to me today. I was coming down a drainage and I stopped to pee. It was too steep to leave the trail, so I just went off the edge of the trail. Before I finished, I saw a full-grown whitetail doe coming down from the ridge towards the trail. She stepped out onto the trail, sniffed the ground where I had walked, sniffed the air and looked at me. She was about 100 feet away. Then she walked towards me, sniffed a little more, looked at me, and walked closer. When she was about 50 feet away, she went on down the drainage Ė slowly, munching grass every few steps, and turning to look back at me. I just stood still, with my brains still in my hand for most of it, but even when I walked away she didnít get spooked.

Moonshine still along Foothills Trail
(leftover from Prohibition era)

I think the miles are off in the guidebook. It says itís 8.8 miles from Sassafrass to Table rock, but the sign at Sassafrass says 10.8 miles. No wonder it felt like a snailís pace yesterday! It also says 2.1 to Chimneytop Gap, and the sign says 2.5. I did 16 today, so Iím at 20.5 total.

Iíve come to a conclusion: I hate food. It tastes good but itís too damn heavy. That and I brought too much Ė my pack is WAY too heavy. I gave away 2-3 pounds of food back at Table Rock and I still have too much! I brought too many ďadd-insĒ for the Lipton Ė tuna packs, bacon bits, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. Next time Iíll bring one for every fourth meal or something. But I feel every ounce I eat when I put my pack back on!

Dinner was Cheddar Broccoli with bacon bits Ė yum! I figured out that 1 cup of water is plenty when youíre freezer bag cooking.

My feet ache, my legs are sore, and Iíve got that funk that only two sweaty trail days in a synthetic shirt can give you. This is why I hike.

ďItís not about getting there; itís about going there.Ē

Todayís animal count:
- 1 Salamander
- 2 Blue Jays, 2 Finches and a Cardinal
- 4 piles of bear scat Ė one very fresh, but still no bears
- 1 deer
- 1 chipmunk

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