Here are a few pictures of another trip that me and my little Cattle Dog did. We went to the Toccoa River suspension bridge. It's a pretty famous footbridge that is 265 feet long and was built back in 1977 to allow people to cross the Toccoa River. Since its a suspension bridge it sort of sways when walking on it. Pretty creepy and cool at the same time. I was nervous for sure.
Although it was only a 3 mile one-way hike on the Benton MacKaye and Duncan Ridge Trails to get to the river it was grueling. Getting there was an unrelenting climb to get to the top and across Tooni Mountain before the trail finally started doing it's normal up and down before it's steady downward trend toward the river. It wasn't a steep straight up vertical climb like the Panther Creek Trail in the Cohutta's we did about a month ago but it just seemed to go on and on and on.
Fairly early on, I came across 3 day hikers that changed their mind about walking all the way to the bridge because of the constant up and down climb and they did not want to make it a 6 mile round trip hike. They decided that they were going to just drive up to the parking area off of a Forest Service Road that happens to be right near the bridge. That is where the car campers park so that they can camp at the river and bring their big coolers filled with all sorts of good and wonderful stuff to eat and drink and sleep in their giant tents. Not that it's a bad thing! I too enjoy car camping I just don't seem to do it enough.
A snake of some sort (I believe a Pygmy Rattle Snake!) slithered right in front of Cowgirl. Thankfully she is so nimble and quick that she jumped over the snake. I had to keep yelling at her to stay where she was so that I could make a wide path around the snake. It was only around 2 feet long but it kept staring at me while I briskly walked several feet around it to get to where I told Cowgirl to stay. I thought about taking a picture of it but I was too out of breath from all of the climbing and was more interested in reaching our destination.
The hike back out wasn't nearly as nauseating. After walking past some fresh tracks of a bear and her cub I decided to sing a bunch of cadence, (loudly!) and a few other inspirational tunes to keep my mind off of the climb and to scare off any bear that might be out foraging. Apparently my singing was pissing off the squirrels because they kept barking and coughing at me and Cowgirl. Very rude audience those squirrels. Highly critical. It's no wonder Cowgirl likes to chase them down.
We passed a fellow backpacker on the way out. She seemed to be moving rather slowly and showed signs of fatigue. I felt her pain as I too have had my many moments of despair while out doing my thing. We said our good mornings, smiled and I gave her the motivational "it's all down hill now!", walked passed her and kept going. I thought to myself, I bet she heard me signing and she was probably thinking, heh, that's the weirdo that I've been hearing. Oh well, I was probably keeping the bears from her also.
When we finally reached the Trailhead there were two other women backpackers sitting there at the sign resting and having a picnic of sorts. I asked one of them if they would take a picture of Cowgirl and I and she did. She asked me if I could give her a ride to the store that was 3/10'ths of a mile down the road so that she could buy some water. I said sure but I could give her the rest of my water if she wants since my hike was over and I had plenty left over. She said that would be great so I ended up filling 2 one-liter bottles for them. Yep I know, I carry too much water but it is what I do and I don't plan to stop doing it. Anyway, I'm glad that I had the water to give because when I passed that store on the way out it was closed. Turns out the gal that I passed on the trail was part of their little group. They were all from Jacksonville, Florida and were taking a week vacation to hike as much of the Georgia mountains as possible. It has to be pretty darn hard to backpack up and down mountains when you live in a place that's as flat as it is. By the time I left the two that were at the trailhead the 3rd one still hadn't shown up. I hope that she made it and had a chance to get some much needed rest.
After getting home I did my usual routine and took a very long nap. I was very tired. Even my butt cheeks were exhusted. At 53 years old, hiking up and down mountain sides with a heavy backpack isn't easy. But...what a life and what a joy to be able to do it with my wonderful little dog!
OK, until the next adventure! Live it and live it well!
Later! Sherpa aka Kathy