Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Onward and Onward

After dinner, Mortis headed back to his room at the hotel, to watch girls basketball or something. The rest of us decided to head out and find a letterbox at night at a park there in Dalton.

I had not come prepared to letterbox, and wore my camp shoes while my headlamp was still in my hotel room. The others had better shoes, but surprisingly few flashlights among them.

Without a light (or even the clue, for that matter), I didn't look particularly hard and instead focused my efforts into scaring everyone that the cops were after us. "Look!" I'd say, pointing to a car that pulled into the parking lots. "I bet its the cops! Hide!"

And all the flashlights went off. =) It wasn't the cops, though it could have been considering all the noise we were making crashing through the brush.

"Well," I told everyone, "I know my record is clean. How about the rest of you?" =)

Then there was some concern about poison ivy all over the place, growing three feet high, to which I replied, "That's okay, I'll just take a shower when I get back to the motel. The rest of you are screwed, though!"

I'm always so thoughtful. =)

Ghopper eventually found the box pretty much as everyone else finally gave up on it. We stamped in, then I was dropped back off at the hotel.

I washed my clothes in the sink figuring it was probably a good idea to get any lingering poison ivy residue off of them then hung them up to dry. The next morning, I used a hair dryer to dry what little wetness was left in them.

I checked out of the motel and started hoofing it east on Walnut Street. Ghopper and friends left me their clues for other boxes in Dalton, so I stopped by a park on the trail to find one then stopped at Walnut Square Mall--the very place I went the day before in the hopes of seeing a movie--where another letterbox was located.

The day's hike was all road walk. It started off relatively nice, with sidewalks and slow traffic. Shortly past that Walnut Square Mall, however however, the sidewalks left me and traffic speed picked up.

Eventually I reached an intersection that left me scratching my head. A sign had been erected for the Pinhoti Trail, pointing to the right. The directions I had printed out and had been following continued straight. Should I follow my directions or the sign? Hmmm....

I considered the consequences. My data was old--in fact, the date it was last updated, according to the last page, was in 1999. Almost a decade old. I had no doubt that meant the trail had been rerouted at some point and that the sign was correct.

But I had a couple of problems with that. One, I had no idea where the reroute went, and if just one blaze or turn was missing, I'd be pretty well screwed. Two, it seemed to go down a less busy street, so I suspected it might be a longer route that avoided the 'dangerous' road walk but ultimately ended at the same place my directions led to. Frankly, when it comes to road walks, I want the most direct route to get it done and over with. And third, those road walks on the road less traveled have their own perils--dogs. I'd rather take my chances with the cars.

So I blew off the sign and continued straight. It was the most direct route to the forest, and it was the forest I wanted to be.

The road wasn't terribly bad to walk on, with a wide shoulder that was easy to walk on in most places. The thing that got to me most was the heat, which I would later learn reached the high 70s, and my pack weight which was extruciatingly heavy since I loaded it up with ALL the food I figured I'd need to reach Springer Mountain--at least 20 pounds of food alone.

I finally reached the town of Chatsworth, which I figured was a respectable 15 or so miles from where I started in Dalton, and seeing as I only needed to average about 16 miles per day, I decided to stop there in town.

It's a much smaller town than Dalton, and a cashier at a gas station told me that a hotel was up the street, perhaps a quarter mile off the trail, so I walked over to it and checked into the Best Western, room 112. It was a luxury to be certain, costing $69 plus tax for the night--way more than I usually care to pay for a hotel room--but I so did not want to find a place to stealth camp since that's what it looked like I'd have to do in all this civilization, and I'm rather tired of camping outdoors anyhow at this point.

So I got the room. As an added perk, however, which practically made the price worth it, there was a computer in the lobby that guests could use for free, and I ended up spending about four hours on it trying to catch up with e-mail, message boards, and such. It was the most computer time I've had since Amanda took the laptop away in Andalusia.

I did not go out for dinner. I had carefully planned out exactly the number of meals I'd need to reach Springer Mountain--over 20 pounds of them!--and needed to eat the food in my pack.

So that's what I did. Figured it helps make up for the relatively expensive room by not eating out for dinner as well. =)


Ryan said...

Sorry about that, folks. The last two posts are out of order. "Onward and Onwards" should come before "Lost on the Pinhoti!"

-- Ryan

Anonymous said...

And here I thought you had teleported from Dalton to Chatsworth.

Anonymous said...

Enjoying the end although you have already finished.

What do you thing those Sears shoes will fetch on ebay??

DC Stones

Anonymous said...

he is much better off writing this in a longer, bounded form.........and selling it........i get the first copy, signed please and thank you ;J

thought that maybe you were doing some more backtracking...........


Danny said...

well, if you do write this as a book, then the cost of the hotel are irrelevant. You can write the whole trip off as a business expense!


Anonymous said...

Well crud, guess I'll have to don hasmat gear and move Stinkerbell's box for her, since she lives in Oregon.