I’ve always heard that if your gonna be stupid, you gotta be tough. Well, this trip proved this statement to be VERY true!!
I’ve been planning a Pinhoti Trail trip for about a week… you can see my plans here. I’ve made the decision to start hiking alone since my husband can no longer hike with me. I made a short solo hike in Cheaha State Park about 2 months ago. It was WONDERFUL! Despite all of the warnings of death and being mauled by bears in my bear burrito, I had a great time and I was very proud that I did it all by myself. Having that trip under my belt, I decided to make a longer hike, about 50 miles.
I wasn’t worried about the mileage. I could take my time, enjoy the trip, and realize a long time dream. I was excited! This was something I’d been wanting to do for years! However, had an uneasy feeling about the trip… I blew it off as nerves.
Stupid Move #1
My first worry was rain. It was going to rain pretty much the whole trip. This wasn’t something I was looking forward to dealing with… Also, it wasn’t just going to be steady rain. There were going to be some severe storms. Again, I started reading through Backpacker Magazine articles, REI Expert Advice, and HikingDude.com. I got this! I went out and bought a Frogg Toggs Ultra Lite2 Rain Suit. I had an OLD backpack rain cover which my husband swore was great when he used it years ago, I lined the inside of my backpack with a large garbage bag, and I packed everything in a Ziploc bag. (OVER KILL) My hammock had a rainfly. I STUPIDLY thought I had rain covered (covered – hahaha!)
Stupid Move #2
My next concern was water although looking back I have NO IDEA why I thought water would be a problem – see Stupid Move #1. In preparing, I read quite a bit about the first 6 sections of the trail. There were many seasonal water sources on the trail and it was going to rain BUT what if the weather reports were wrong. I decided to carry 1.1 gallons of water with a weight of 9.3lbs. This would take my pack weight from 27lbs to 36.3lbs. I could still handle the pack weight so I erased this concern from my mind. Again, see Stupid Move #1 to affirm the STUPIDITY of Stupid Move #2.
Stupid Move #3
Once I had my equipment ready I set it all out for my husband to survey. He agreed that I had most of the stuff I needed… then he started adding stuff I MIGHT need. He said, “You will need a larger light for night.” So he gave me a small Coleman lantern. Then, "you will also need extra batteries for all of the lights." Next, he handed me his battery pack for my cellphone and inReach. I already had one battery pack but he insisted that I might need it and, if I was going by myself, he had to be able to find me. He kept bringing things out that I might need… another knife, more cordage, an ax! This was going to be too much. I hid a few of the things under the bed just in case I did need them… I didn’t want him to have the chance to tell me, "I told you so".
Now, that I had all of his "might" need things in the pack, my weight was at 50lbs. I told him I needed to take out some of the things he had added – like all of them – but he insisted I take them. Oh, then he comes out with my gun. This is the only thing he added that I thought was a good ad on… I would now be carring a load of 53.5lbs!! YIKES!! I’ve seen my husband pack… Why am I surprised and why did I go along with it? At this point, all I can think about is Jeff Foxworthy – Here’s your sign!
I’m ready to leave. I get up at around 5am, take a shower, dress, load the car, and hear my husband say, "You need to wait until tomorrow to leave". Thinking… maybe he’s right. I undressed, unpacked the car, and started watching TV. We had decided that I would begin at Section 3 because I didn’t want to road walk. I was VERY anxious and probably harder than usual to live with at this point. I couldn’t wait so I left at 8am. The sun was out most of the trip up to the trailhead (33.13894, -86.19856) but I could see the storm clouds rolling in. The trailhead was just a little southeast of Sylacauga, AL.
Around 11am it started to rain. I arrived at the trailhead at 12:30. It was still raining but it was a soft easy rain and I didn’t mind hiking in it.
Shortly after starting my hike, I had to stop and adjust my shoes. I thought they weren’t tied tight enough… maybe they had just loosened as I started hiking. I stopped and hurriedly retied both shoes as my dog bounced around trying to get me to pickup the pace. I hiked a little further…
I was only about two miles into my hike when I had to stop again. This time it was because I was feeling a hot spot. I removed my shoes and added duct tape to both heels. I relaced my shoes and used an overhand knot with a Surgeon’s knot above that… surely this would keep my shoes tied tightly.
SIDE NOTE: Don’t waste your money on a Frogg Toggs Ultra Lite2 Rain Suit. Mine tore somewhere within the first two miles of the trip. There were no thorns or brush for them to get hung on…
Once again, I started hiking. I hiked for about another 2 miles before I had to stop again. I called my husband (yes, my phone worked!). I told him that I was getting a blister on my heel. We discussed a few things and he told me that I needed to decide if I wanted to head back to the car or if I wanted him to pick me up tomorrow at Bull Gap. I told him I thought it was rediculous to drive 241 miles (one way) to pick me up so I told him I would hike back to the car. When we got off the phone, I took my shoe off to look at my heel. I still did know why I was getting this blister!
When I removed my shoe I realized it was the silk liner socks! I removed both of the silk liner socks and flung them into the woods! I put a second pair of wool socks on and my feet immediately felt MUCH better!
I made it back to the car without incident. It was about 5:30pm when I got there. Butter, my dog, was happy to be out of the rain but I was bummed. We headed home 🙁 I’d like to think that I learned a lot on this trip so hopefully I won’t make the same mistakes again!
Hope you learned something from my debacle too! Happy Hiking 🙂