Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Flight to Flagg Mountain

Flagg Mountain, according to my sources, is the first 1000' peak I'd reach. In Florida, I never even reached half that height, but I was looking forward to Flagg Mountain.

For one, I knew it was legal to camp up there. I called Pete, listed on my Alabama Trail directions, who was very annoyed with hikers calling him for permission to camp on Flagg Mountain. He didn't know how the hiker community got his number or why they felt they had to call him for permission. I apologized about that, and told him I'd contact the Alabama Hiking Society and ask them to take his contact information off.

Try to do the right thing and look what happens. =) He did explain that anyone who camped up there had to have a multi-million dollar insurance policy or something in case something went wrong, but that the Alabama Hiking Society already had that which applied to all of their members so anyone who was a member of the Alabama Hiking Society could camp up there without any additional permission.

He seemed to imply that what he didn't know didn't hurt him, and if I weren't a member, he'd rather not know. =)

Which was good to know, because technically speaking, I never signed up to become a member. While it was legal to camp on Flagg Mountain, as it turned out, it was not legal for ME to camp on Flagg Mountain.

No problem, though, I'd hide in the woods and nobody would be none the wiser.

So I was looking forward to Flagg Mountain. A genuine mountain. Not a hill or a speedbump, but a real mountain. Where cypress swamps do not exist, and it's still too cold for mosquitoes to thrive. Darned near paradise.

North of Kelly's Crossroads, I met up with my scariest dog encounter yet. A pack of nine dogs (NINE of them!) came at me from a home. The sheer number of them would have scared any sensible person.

I scrambled up an embankment on the opposite side of the road. The road cut through a small hill, leaving a small cliff of sorts on the one side, and I intended to make use of the extra height and steep cliff to protect myself.

One dog tried to follow me up, but I yelled at it to get down while waving my trekking pole menicling, and he backed down.

From the top, I could hold my ground. The dogs barked and sat down in the street, waiting for me to come back down. We had reached a draw.

It was during this time I could pause long enough to count the number of dogs I had after me. I had known at a glance there were a lot of them, but in the scramble up the cliff, I didn't have time to count. I also took pictures of them, though I was only able to get, at most, seven of the dogs in any one photo.

I thrashed through thorn bushes along the edge of the cliff, hoping to reach the other side of the house without having to get back down to street level.

And it worked, to an extent. I got scraped up in thorns, but better than mauled by a pack of dogs.

The cliff went down as the hill reached street level, and a few of the dogs started to approach me again. When I finally reached the street, one dog continued to close the gap between us, and I grabbed a hefty rock off the ground.

Then I hurled it, as hard as I could, directly at the dog. As soon as the dog realized I was about to throw the rock, he immediately started running back towards his house and I knew I'd probably miss. I didn't care, though, I wanted that dog to feel the pain of getting too close to strangers.

The dog had probably gotten about 20 feet away from me by the time the rock was hurled, and I missed the bugger by perhaps five inches. Very close, but damn, it felt good watching that dog run AWAY from me as if his life depended on it.

None of the other dogs tried to approach me after that, and the one that ran from me kept on running. I was safe. I picked up another rock, though. Just in case it would come in handy....

I continued following the directions to Flagg Mountain. Turned left on CR 16.

But then I missed a turn. I should have turned right on a dirt road named CCC Camp Road or something like that. Totally missed it and didn't realize my mistake until a half hour later. I assumed I was looking for a paved road and had completely missed the dirt road.

Shoot! Now what? Backtrack? Continue on a different dirt road and bypass Flagg Mountain, catching up with the trail on the other side?

I decided to go forward. Heck, I knew it was illegal for me to camp at Flagg Mountain, so I'd find a place on the county road paralleling just to the west of the CCC Camp road.

The county road became dirt, crossing over the ridge that included Flagg Mountain. In fact, I could see the top of Flagg Mountain perhaps a mile to the east. But I missed it.

I had another two hours of daylight left, but decided to camp for the night near the top of the ridge. It was a wonderful place to camp. The dirt road appeared to rarely be used, and I found a cozy flat spot on a bed of pine needles. I figured once the road went back down the other side of the ridge, there would be civilization. More people, more cars, and harder to stealth camp.

Nope, I was having none of that. I wanted my solitude up in the mountains, and that's where I camped.

Quitting so early in the day, I made an elaborate dinner of burritos and inventoried every last item in my pack for those of you wanting to know what I carried.

And I was in the mountains! I could see miles from my vantage point, and I loved it. For the first time, I felt like I was in the Appalachians.

I even spotted a shooting star while going to sleep. Wonderful. Just wonderful. It was my favorite campsite (so far!) in Alabama. I never made it to Flagg Mountain, but I felt like I did pretty well for myself.


Anonymous said...

sounds like another wonderful night on the hike. glad things went well with the dogs. they just don't stop coming at you do they?

sleep tight.


Anonymous said...

Just goes to show that chickens are smarter than dogs - we had a mean rooster near our house. Henry, the rooster, wouldn't come near you as long as you carried a stick. But if you made the mistake of throwing the stick at the rooster, he knew he had time to attack you before you could get another stick.

Anonymous said...

Welcome "home," Ryan. We can almost see you from here!

Anonymous said...

Man, my crack about that cute dog in Florida getting eaten by a gator after you dropped it over the fence is small potatoes to the situations you keep finding yourself in. Bravo for defending yourself. Too bad you didn't pelt that beast with the rock. Maybe next time (hopefully there will be no next time).

DC Stones

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

The Atlas Quest Widget said "Are you missing out".

I'm applying it to your post and you possibly feeling that you missed out on sleeping on Flagg Mountain. But I bet you didn't. :)

Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers