A Nice Walk (and probably a good Philmont practice hike)

Sunday the wife and I went for a walk in the afternoon on Kennesaw Mountain while the kids did homework. Great place for a local walk. It is very popular and we had to park on old route 41 (which added about 1/2 mile roundtrip). The trailmap below shows the loop from the park headquarters.

This is an excellent practice loop for Philmont – probably the best one in the Atlanta area – especially if you start by going up the steep path to the top. It is about a 700 foot climb in a little bit more than a mile, which is close to as steep as it gets at Philmont. If you can do that without being too winded, then (other than the thin air) you should have no real troubles. In fact we met a crew practicing (I forgot to get their unit – but it was probably a venture crew as there were young women as well as young men with packs). They had taken the easier way around, and I don’t blame them as it would be a hard warm up with out practicing (though with just our daypacks and going the other way we made better time).  Considering the loads I saw, I really appreciated the idea of light-weight packing – my daypack was probably 1/2 the base load I could get to.

The trail is well manicured for the first mile or so, and we fairly rapidly passed the crowds who where catching their breath near the top. This isn’t to say that we didn’t pause for breath ourselves, but it was no where near steep enough for a rest-step. Once past the cannon on the top of Kennesaw mountain the path descends steeply before climbing (almost as steeply) up Little Kennesaw mountain. Just before the battle, the confederates cut a road and hauled cannon up this mountain, and there is a small battery at fort McBride up there in memory of it. At this time of year the confederate trenches are clearly visible. The rocky and slightly rough trail then wraps around Little Kennesaw mountain before heading off to Pigeon hill. We took a shunt path down to the return trail which is wide, flat and uneventful. Other than the first mile or so, the trail is fairly empty (for an urban area that is), but shows clear signs of heavy use – but fortunately not much litter and people seem to be keeping to the path which minimizes their impact.

Written by Rob in: outdoors,scouting,trail map |

Okefenokee Trip

This weekend I went on a 34.3 mile canoe trip over three days with my son’s (one of their) troops to the Okefenokee Wildlife Management Area. This is a truly neat and primeval place. My personal highlight was getting my 100th bird (white ibis). You need to make arrangements exactly 2 months before you go as they won’t take reservations any earlier and 2 months minus one day is too late. The local outfitter (okefenokee adventures) rents nice canoes and decent paddles, but only has the orange “life preserver” PFD’s which are almost as bad as not wearing one.

We drove down on Friday night, arriving at Trader’s Hill campsite quite late (about 11:30), which was no problem, and they were very nice about letting us register on the way out. The trip started at the concession/rental site, and went to round top platform. We then went to the cabin on Floyd’s island and returned on the third day. We had to carry all the drinking water as the swamp water is hard to purify (for emergency we figured using a particle mesh filter followed by UV and aqua-mira might just work – but the water would still look like weak tea). The scouts showed great water discipline and we finished with more than enough.

The first night out was very windy, a bit cool (40ish), and wet. As good scouts we’d been prepared and brought tarps. But then how do we fasten them to a 16×24 foot shelter? Being one of the adult leaders (and not one of the ones who did the hard work of planning and arranging things) I found a solution to this on section hiker which was to use an eye screw. The eye screws (3/8×3 or so) fit into the cracks between the boards and could be inserted and removed without damaging the platform. After a quick trip to the Home Depot, I had six which resided in my single work glove sheath. These worked like a charm and we were able to build a nice shelter that withstood some fairly inclement weather.

The weather broke that night and the next day was an easy, mostly dry, trip to the cabin on Floyds’ Island.

This cabin was refurbished by troop 123, and is still in excellent shape. It easily fit all 20 people in it. We then left at dawn in order to be at the landing by about 12, so we could get home to Atlanta at some reasonable time.

The wetness and shape of space in the canoes really makes me appreciate the design of duluth packs. Wide rather than tall, and opening on the top, they fit neatly in the bottom of the canoe and let you get at your gear. Pity we didn’t have them, but our lighter weight regular backpacks worked OK (and a lot better than the trashbag/duffel sack that some of the other people brought) Both my son and I used bivy sacks on the platform – which meant we could be on the outside where a little spray (and there was more than a little) wouldn’t harm us. Otherwise, we used careful water proofing with a large waterproof stuff sack and plastic bag reinforcements. And -as always on the water- we carried a spare dry set of clothes.

The total trip was 34.3 miles by my GPS. We averaged about 2.8 miles an hour (I was on the sweep canoe so we took our time ;-) ). The attached trail map below shows the route. I used the lithium photo batteries in my Garmin 60csx, which are both lighter than alkaline (about 2/3 the weight) and last longer. Right now they show full power after 4 days (or more) of trail tracking. I think, somehow, they will do for Northern Tier.

Written by Rob in: outdoors,scouting,trail map,Wildlife |

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