Saturday, May 25th, 2019
Right before re-entering the woods, I fell into a state of panic. Tomorrow we were going to complete our Pinhoti Trail thru hike, which should be something to celebrate. However, not knowing how we were getting out of the wood was on my mind. I couldn’t get over the fear of not having enough food and not being close enough to a busy enough road to hitch out of. We researched, but nothing came up specifically telling us where we’d run into the Benton MacKaye Trail or how far we’d be from a bailout point in case we ran out, and the Pinhoti Trail doesn’t end at a trailhead. It seems to end in the middle of nowhere and the app we had didn’t offer much help. Although we didn’t want to make any more stops, to solve our problem we decided to make another trip to town later in the day when we reached the last road crossing heading to a town.
It was Memorial Day weekend, so we saw a few groups of people out and about as we followed forest roads. We saw a party by one of the streams then talked to a couple riding through the mud on a 4-wheeler. We crossed a couple streams then took a lunch break at a large tent site, picking the ticks off of our legs as we ate.
When we got going, a guy driving a truck on the trail, which usually isn’t legal to do, pulled up behind us. He stopped to talk and told us that he was the owner of the land ahead of us and was heading to the meadow to treat the grass. We let him pass by as he drove over fallen tree limbs and then went back around him when he had to unlock a fence to get through. He’d go around us once again, and we’d be relieved that he did. When we caught back up with him, his truck flattened the tall grass in the meadow which was shoulder length, well at least on me. A father/son mountain biker pair passed us from the other direction and likely appreciated it too!
We hydrated at a stream before ascending the steep climb ahead.
On the way, we ran into a group of three fathers and their three sons who were starting a backpacking trip. They asked us some questions about being ultralight and told us how bad the trail was up ahead. We weren’t threatened, especially after showing them a few pictures of what we had already been through. They were shocked.
We were close to the road to Ellijay for our last resupply, but as we walked through a nice neighborhood along a forest road, we realized that we had gotten nearly a half mile off track. I rolled my eyes and we retraced our steps. I was pretty much done with this poorly marked trail and all the bushwhacking. I couldn’t wait to wrap things up.
Eventually we reached the road that would take us to Ellijay, and got picked up immediately by a couple driving a pickup truck. They told us they didn’t have room in the back, but we could hop in the bed with their two kayaks. Of course, we didn’t mind. Their names were Dean and Linda and they informed us that they pick hikers up all the time. They took us to Dollar General and said they’d take us back to the trail once we finished resupplying! Here I was worried about losing time and these two trail angels hooked us up!
Once they dropped us off, we hiked a very fun and interesting switchback trail and we’d meet a few mountain bikers along the way. Minus a few fallen trees, the trail was well groomed and it curved and looped around in a way that you could see it in tiers. When we noticed a mountain bike retreat was close by, it all made sense.
The Pinhoti spit us out on a dusty road. We got water at a less than desirable source underneath of it and followed it back to the woods. Some people who drove by were nice enough to slow down, but others kicked up dust in our faces as the flew by.
We cursed them, but since this was likely the last flat spot we’d be around for a bit, we decided to eat dinner there before reentering the forest.
We were grateful for that retreat as we strolled along a very well groomed trail covered in pine needles. There were steep climbs, but when you take bushwhacking out of the situation, it wasn’t bad at all.
Eventually we were back on a gravel road. My feet were starting to hurt; they prefer the soft feel of soil over gravel and asphalt.
Once we got to the tenting area, which of course was not much of anything, I was just glad to be done. This trail had me so beat up and I was so tired. We decided to set our tent up right on the trail by the water source given that everywhere else was completely overgrown. We just hoped that no mountain bikers would be traveling through during the night or early next morning.
26.3 miles (42.3 km)