Blairsville, Georgia (high 78, low 58)
The weather has been very nice, so on Wednesday, we decided to go on a slightly longer hike. We have been gradually lengthening the distance of our hikes to build up our stamina.
We ended up going back to Vogel State Park to finally complete the Bear Hair Gap Trail. It’s listed as a moderate hike, and I guess by Georgia mountain standards, that’s correct, but it was certainly a challenging hike for us.
Even within the park and the park literature, there are different opinions on the length of this hike. It is somewhere around 3.5 miles, not counting the .8 mile nature trail to the actual Bear Hair Gap trail and the overlook trail.
We are certainly not in as good of shape as Nancy and Bill, who walked 9 miles in these woods, and lived to tell about it.
Three miles in these mountains is probably equal to at least 15 miles of flat ground.
This next picture is not even on the actual trail yet, but just the nature trail that leads to the main trail.
We stopped and picked up some buck-eyes.
It seemed like it was all uphill.
The acorns were thick and would become a big problem later on. Darn acorns.
UP, UP, UP. We started at about 2400 foot elevation and ended up about 3200 feet. The average grade was 12%, but there were 25% stretches too.
The deeper we got into the woods, the more acorns we saw. They were constantly falling all around us. We discussed needing a hard hat.
Acorns were falling all around us. It was only a matter of time until one of them hit one of us. We discussed how much it might hurt if it hit your head.
Soon, I found out when one hit my shoulder. Ouch.
They were pretty large.
It was a pretty hike with some color along the way.
A few things we (I) didn’t particularly want to see. Al took the following photo. :)
Not long after this, Al saw what he first thought was a branch.
It turned out to be a black snake which was about 4 feet long. We scooted it down the side of the mountain, to what turned out to be the same direction the switch back had us go next.
We finally got to some mostly flat ground and thought we had reached the plateau shown on the trail map.
The flat ground didn’t last too long before we were going up again.
The overlook was pretty, but you couldn’t see much, except that there was another taller mountain in the background.
An interesting tree, but unfortunately many people decided they needed to carve their initials on the branches.
Once we got back onto the main trail, it seemed to get more difficult. We thought it would be easier going downhill, but the trail became narrow, rocky and steep. The biggest issue was the acorns, which were like walking on ball bearings. Very, very slippery.
Going down the side of a narrow mountain trail walking on ball bearings was not easy! If you fell down, you might end up rolling for a loooong time.
We were walking very, very carefully but both of us kept slipping on those darn acorns, but no falls….….yet.
Finally, the inevitable happened and Al went down! He landed hard between two cut tree branch narrowly missing being jabbed in the back by them.
I made sure he was okay, started to give him a hand up, but then realized a good little blogger like me should capture the moment for the blog. :
He agreed to stay on the ground and pose for my picture. I quickly scooted backwards to snap a picture and don’t you know, I tripped on a tree root and I fell and also landed on the ground. Darn root. Lesson one, don’t scoot backwards on a trail, and lesson two, don’t hurry.
Once he found out that I wasn’t hurt, he started laughing, and that is when I got my picture of him on the ground.
We sat there a few minutes and had a good laugh before we went on our way.
The acorns got thicker and thicker, and we had to really pay attention. We both ended up slipping a few more times, but thankfully didn’t lose our balance again.
The trail became a lot more difficult on the way back down, with downed trees to cross.
Streams to cross (this is not my favorite way to cross a stream), but I had no choice.
large rocks to get around
This is truly a wilderness and the deeper we got into the forest, the more we realized how far away we were from any assistance, should we need any help.
We saw no bears but we saw this. It was obviously from a bear and was right on the trail we were walking on.
Shortly after I saw that, I swear I heard a sound like a snort, kind of like a warning. It sounded close. Maybe my imagination was taking over, but that’s what it sounded like.
We decided to stay a little closer together, and soon this is what we saw. This one looked fresh.
We came across this and I joked it was the grave of a hiker who got too tired to make it back. :)
My phone tracker app said we had gone 5.29 miles and the pedometer said 5.30. We felt like it was 25.
Boy did that hot tub feel good last night!