It is strange how ideas come into one's head at times, but I can honestly say that I can blame the residents of HF for this one!!!! Every single one of you!!!!!
The Warbonnet Blackbird and Superfly tarp arrived in the mail on July 5th, and after a day or two of delays I finally got it to the backyard for it's maiden hang. After hours of tweaking and playing with guy lines, and bungee cord, I am satisfied with the days work. The hammock went up with no problem, on the Superfly, I have a 3mm CRL with prussics and S-biners and figure 9s, 4-10' 3mm corner tie outs, 4-15' panel pulls tied and ready to throw on at a moments notice, and 4-3' bungee cords for the doors. Mission complete, now I gotta get it out in the woods!!!!!!
Another day's reading here on HF and I realize that I may not have done everything as well as I could have, I mean for Pete's sake, I didn't put and self tensioners on my guy lines, not only that, my guy lines are probably a little heavier than they should be, but who would have thought there would be that much difference between 3mm guy lines, and 2 mm guy lines??? Do I really need the S-biners on the CRL or would just tying the prussics directly to the tarp rings work???? My bungee cords for the doors don't have cord locks for adjusting the tension with doors in different positions!!!!! These things had to be analyzed further and, if necessary, corrected immediately!!!!
To top that off, I had been forced, to order one of Zelph's Fancee Feast alcohol stoves because it was a lighter more efficient way to cook!!!!
Well Friday arrived, and it was my first opportunity to get out and correct some of my mistakes. Yep you guessed it, the girlfriend was gone for the entire weekend and I could get out and buy more cordage!!!! So I headed off to Athens to the closest "outfitter" in my area, Half Moon Outfitters. When I got there, I grabbed 50' of Kelty Trip-tease, more bungee cord, a handful of cord locks, and then it happened, off to the right of the cordage rack, there was an assortment of trail guides, books on hiking and climbing, one guide caught my eye, a guide to GA's Bartram trail....I resisted the urge and walked away without the guide.
I got home and started all over with the tarp guy lines using the Kelty Trip-tease and some self tensioners.....the initial plan was to use the bungee loops that were talked about in detail here, but after playing around I decided to go with a 12" section of bungee with a simple overhand knot in each end, I attached them to the Trip-tease with a simple clove hitch...I was a little skeptical of the clove hitch's ability to hang on to the bungee, but thus far it has held without fail. I redid the bungee cords for the doors, by drilling a hole in the end of the plastic hooks I had on hand(from some stripped down dive gear), threading the bungee cords through the holes, throwing a cord lock in the mix and tying a simple overhand not at the end to prevent pulling the bungee back through.
Since the Fancee Feast stove didn't arrive on Friday like I had hoped, (Zelph shipped it quickly, but thanks to the USPS, the package didn't arrive as quickly as I would have expected) I decided to wait one more day before blowing this Popsicle stand. Saturday morning, the new alcohol stove was waiting in the mail box!!!!! Now it's time to go!!!
While packing, the first thing I noticed was all the room left over in my Gregory Pack!!!! I began to ask myself how was I going to rationalize buying a new smaller lighter weight pack!!!! This was getting out of control !!!!!!!! I finished packing, cinched down all the compression straps on the pack and I was out the door.
On my way out the door, I started thinking about the Bartram Trail guide and decided very quickly, with all this new gear, why not a new trail???? Without hesitation, I drove back to Athens to buy the guide, then off to Kinko's to make copies of a few pages before hitting the trail.
I arrived in Clayton, picked up Warwoman Rd and out to the trail head @ the GA/SC state line. I had not seen any rain, but my first observation was that everything was wet...really wet!!! I just chuckled to myself knowing that I wasn't gonna be sleeping on the ground and by all accounts, my new setup was gonna keep me HIGH and DRY !!!!! I jumped on the Bartram trail and started walking. My first observation was that this ain't the AT!!!! The Bartram Trail was overgrown in places, and not as well marked. I kept telling myself that things would improve, but for the first 2 miles or so, there were times the overgrowth along the trail were chest to head high, at times I couldn't see my feet. I found myself waiting to hear the telltale warning of a rattlesnake, then I couldn't decide if that would even be a good thing...the wait for the inevitable strike or just getting popped by one of its cousins that give no warning at all!!!!! More than once, I considered turning back, but in the back of my mind, I kept telling myself that it would get better. The trail would improve, then it would revert back to the overgrown jungle that Bartram himself must have experienced when he walked through the area. The trail played tag with the Chatooga and several other creeks in the area, and try as I might, I couldn't find lots of areas that were "safe" due to all the widow makers in the vicinity....so I walked on.
My plan was just to sample the Bartram Trail between Russell Bridge and Sandy Ford Rd which would have put me doing a 9.5 mile walk and flip flopping back to the trail head, but with the condition of the trail, I decided pushing my luck through once was enough!!!!! At 6.3 miles, I crossed Warwoman Creek on a 66' steel bridge and after a short walk, I came across Earl's Ford Rd. with several overused campsites and more than a couple of campers scattered along the river. I still had plenty of daylight left so I continued to walk, the trail improved slightly, but my guess is the only reason the trail was so well traveled in this area was due to illegal use of the Bartram trail by ORVs and horse traffic.
Eventually I found a spot along the river and threw up the hammock and tarp in porch mode. Once the hammock and tarp was up, it was time to try out the new stove. I dropped 1 oz of denatured alcohol into the Fancee Feast and lit it off. What was so surprising to me was the immediate heat, I had two cups of water in a rolling boil in ~6 minutes, and the stove burned for ~14 minutes before burning completely out. I guess all the rumors about the cute little stove are true!!!!!
I slept like a baby that night, laying in the hammock, less than 15 feet from the river's edge, I woke up the next morning, and unlike trips of the past, I didn't break camp immediately, I took the time to cook some breakfast (which I never really do) on that sexy alcohol stove, jotted down a few notes concerning the trip, broke camp and hiked out towards Sandy Ford Rd. Along the way I took a short detour and checked out ****'s Creek Falls. Awesome site, I actually took some great video from the top of the falls....I will have to see about getting it posted to the site.
Once out on Sandy Ford Rd, I decided that rather than walk back through the over grown sections of trail, I would yellow blaze it back to the truck....but riddle me this, if the trail is marked with yellow diamonds, I guess I yellow blazed the whole trip ....right????
I walked the 3.8 miles out to Warwoman Rd. and stopped by a small country store @ Black Diamond Tunnel Rd. (Ironically enough, I had the opportunity to dive the Black Diamond Tunnel somewhere around 2001-2002), and bought me something cold to drink. While in the store, I had a guy named Mike offer me a ride back to the trail head, with it still being 10-12 miles away, I pounced on the idea!!! Mike refused any payment for gas or the effort, so on my way out, I stopped back by the little store and put a few cold drinks worth of credit on his tab at the store. It was the least I could do for such a nice fella.
All in all, a great trip. The trail wasn't quite what I expected, and in my opinion, just needs a little TLC. It was beautiful back there, lots of spectacular views, lots of diversity in the flora and fauna and the trail was relatively flat with just a few short climbs....
Sorry forgot to add a few pics: