Monday, May 13th, 2019
We walked over to McDonalds to eat breakfast, then checked out of the hotel. Then we crossed the street to hitch back to the trail. We got a ride from a pregnant woman named Lauren.
“My husband’s going to kill me!” she told us regarding picking up two hitchhikers, “but you two seem safe enough.”
We wished her a Happy Mother’s Day as she dropped us off at Porter’s Gap.
I’d be hiking with a heavy heart and would occasionally find myself choked up. Over the past few days, we received more and more details regarding the tragic stabbing of two hikers on the Appalachian Trail (AT). One of them was fatal. It hit really close to home. It felt like it had happened to people I knew even though I’ve never met them. I can’t really explain it to those who don’t already know, but you get a strangely strong bond with other AT hikers, even if you’ve never hiked with them before.
These days, one hears about tragedy in the news, and you’re usually apathetic or just desensitized to it. For me and many others, this was not the case. My heart ached for the victims, their family and friends, and the 2019 AT hikers and others who were directly and indirectly affected by it. Everyone in the trail community was on edge, and the event sparked a lot of debate about guns on the trail, mental illness, and how it could have been prevented. I was emotionally drained.
On the physical side of things, we were both silk blazing all morning. To those unfamiliar with the term “silk blazing” it refers to hiking through copious amounts of cobwebs (spiders included), and is most commonly experienced by the first one hiking in the morning, or in this case, while hiking on a trail as infrequently traveled as the Pinhoti Trail.
We’d also be sliding in mud, and balancing ourselves across wobbly rocks. We took a break after passing Clairmont Gap, then started the first big climb. At least there was a view, and it was a beautiful day!
We caught back up with Spacejam right before climbing the “Stairway to Heaven” which ended with the “Pearly Gates” according to his guide.
It was a nice climb and we passed a few section hikers along the way. What followed were more nice views, and a very technical ridge that took us way longer than it should have to cross over.
It was getting late, but the views continued as we climbed Hernandez Peak, the highest point along the Alabama portion of the Pinhoti Trail.
We planned to stay there for the night, but decided to hike a half mile further since there was a site with a view. Hernandez Peak was lacking in that department, as the summit was surrounded by trees.
I hustled, hoping to catch the sunset before it was too late. I saw it slip away between the trees. Just as I made it to the view, I was mildly disappointed when Frisbee informed me, “You just missed it.” The sun was down, but the colors were still vibrant in the sky.
We planned on taking the side trail to Cheaha State Park, which was rumored to have a restaurant with a breakfast buffet. The highest mountain in the state of Alabama was also located there, and after missing out on Arizona‘s due to weather conditions, I was hoping to bag at least one peak before it was time to head home!
26.1 miles (42.0 km)