Day 6, Mar 7, PT 75.8
Nancy got me back to the trail about 615 and I started hiking. The first 7 miles were a lot of climbing but the trail is in great shape.
That all stopped when I I hit the “rock garden” at about mile 7 1/2. At that point, pretty much for the rest of the day, the trail became very rocky, turning into a rock scramble in places.
I ran into another hiker headed south (I am going north). “Butter” and I talked for 15 minutes or so and he warned me the trail is rough in the Cheaha Wilderness (where I am heading). He is doing a section of the Pinhoti Trail and planned plans to stay at the Next Step Hostel tonight. told him to tell Nancy and Jeff hello for me.
Unfortunately, the 8 miles after I met Butter were pretty bad trail, very rocky and tough hiking. Especially in crocs. I blew out my left crack heel strap, which is not a big deal since I’ve done that before know how to do it temporary repair, but it wouldn’t of happened if the trail had been in better shape.
I camped at a small campsite near the Skyway trail head with a little stream about a 10th of a mile down a side trail. I am averaging about 15 miles a day which, considering the trail, is pretty good.
The overnight stop in Talladega was a good idea. The rest did me good, I didn’t have any stomach problems today and my leg legs felt great I think as long as I keep it at 15 miles or so I can do this thing.
Day 7, Mar 8, PT 92.0
Just when I thought I knew what the PT could throw out me I have a day like this. A very hard day. I didn’t think it was possible for the trail to get any rougher but it was definitely harder today. I entered the Cheaha Wilderness and the nice blazes and packed each trail disappeared.
There were long stretches of rock scrambled where my pace dropped to a crawl and I lost the trail several times.
I decided to stop at the Cheaha State Park store for lunch. I arrived at 12:30 which means it took me 6 1/2 hours to do the 11 miles from my camp last night. Stopping there for lunch was a good idea. The store was limited, but they had sandwiches, which was a nice change from my tortilla salmon rolls.
But now that I am out of the Wilderness the trail improves substantially. Still very rocky but the rock scrambles seem to be done.
Day 8, Mar 9, PT 106.4
Much easier day as the trail was actually very nice, packed earth and not a lot of rocks. Course they were the usual steep climbs but they’re short. I had a short phone call with Roberta at my first break at about 5 miles. She said martini night went well, and she sounded upbeat.
And today was a big milestone, mile 100!
I stopped for lunch early at 10:30, 9.3 miles, because it was a really pretty waterfall and it seem like a nice place to have lunch.
Turns out I was right because after about 15 minutes, the rain started and it has rained all afternoon slowly building to thunderstorms. I hit a campsite near a stream about 2:00 and put up my tent in a small lull in the rain.
Day 9, Mar 10, PT 113.1 and Heflin
It rained most of the night and was still raining this morning. I got as ready as I could and then during a slight lull in the rain, I made my move. My tent is completely soaked. I made good time even in the rain which never let up and was at the highway overpass around 9 o’clock.
The trail was in pretty good shape.
I tried calling Heflin City Hall but cell coverage was very iffy, and I was unable to talk to anyone. so as the rain was finally stopping and no luck hitching (I tried for about 30 minutes) I started walking the three miles into town.
I got to the hotel about 1030 and they had a room ready so I was able to check in immediately. I spent the next two hours cleaning up my tent and drying out my sleeping bag. Doing the usual town stuff.
Days 10/11, Mar 11/12, A Double Zero
I called City Hall and left a message for Tammy, the hiker contact. They also gave me her direct line, which I finally called around 4 PM. We had a short conversation, but basically I said, I only needed a ride back to the trail Monday morning. It’s supposed to rain all day Sunday
Saturday was beautiful, sunny and cool. Hard to believe it’s going to rain all day tomorrow. I spent the day walking to town (it’s about 2 miles from the hotel o the freeway to downtown Heflin).
I also spent the day shopping for supplies for my next section. Heflin has multiple grocery stores so I was able to get everything I needed.
And I was even able to find a place that served cocktails! Though, I did have to explain how to make a martini to the bartender.