Troop 772, Marietta, GA

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Cold Weekend on the Rocky Pinhoti and Odum Trails

Submitted By Assistant Scoutmaster J. Hall

With Alex Smith serving as our Senior Patrol Leader and Ian and Brennen Graessle ready for their first serious backpacking trip, we headed for the High Falls trailhead on the Odum Trail in Alabama on a chilly Friday night, December 9.

For the first time I can remember, we drove straight to the trailhead (thank you Mapquest!) without taking a tour of several of the small towns and backroads in the vicinity. There was only one vehicle in the parking lot and it drove off shortly after we crawled into our tents so we had the campsite all to ourselves.

We just thought it was cold when we arrived Friday night. Saturday morning brought the realization that this was going to be a blue bead campout for sure. The thermometer in Mr. Ferrano’s SUV said it was 26 degrees but it sure felt closer to 20, and the slight breeze didn’t help much. We finished breakfast (ask me about Mr. Fitzner’s eggs in a bag meal), packed up, saddled up and hit the trail before 10:00 am. We climbed up the three sets of stairs at beautiful High Falls and headed out on the Odum Trail.

Our first landmark was the intersection with the Nubbin Creek Trail where we stopped for a quick rest, then we headed northeast for the junction with the Pinhoti Trail where we stopped for lunch. The temperature had risen to a nice level but we still had some wind to deal with.

I joked in 2001 when I first hiked these trails that Pinhoti was the local inhabitants’ word for “Bring all the extra rocks in Alabama and dump them here.” Neither the Pinhoti or Odum are particularly well-marked with consistent blazes. There are numerous sections that are 150-200 feet long where you walk on thousands of rocks the size of fully loaded backpacks and have no idea if you’re still on the trail or not. We persevered and made our way over to the connector trail that took us back onto the Odum Trail and down the ridgeline to the Nubbin Creek Trail. That “down the ridgeline” phrase was very significant since it got us below the wind and into the afternoon sun where the hiking was much more enjoyable.

We arrived at our campsite near Nubbin Creek around 3:30 in the afternoon and had plenty of time to relax, gather wood for a campfire, reflect on the 7.5 miles we had covered that day and begin making plans for dinner. Shortly after 4:00, a group of hikers from Gulf Shores, AL we had encountered walking in the opposite direction on the Pinhoti came strolling into our camp. They were coming down from Little Caney Head that we would hike over on our way out Sunday morning. They had hiked the loop in reverse that we were hiking and needed water and a place to stay for the night. We invited them to join us and told them where Nubbin Creek was located, but they decided to head farther along the trail to shorten their hike on Sunday.

We started the fire just before dark and I introduced the Graessle brothers to the miracle of fat wood as a fire starter. There was a huge pine top that had fallen into a large holly tree years ago and over time it had been seasoned into an enormous supply of nature’s best fire starter.

The Scouts chowed down on Ramen noodles with chicken breast and Mr. Ferrano prepared a delicious rice, chicken and mixed vegetables in a cream cheese sauce for the adults.

We enjoyed the fire until about 9:00 pm and the sleep monster overtook all of us and we headed for bed. It was a windy, clear night and we awoke to a chilly 30 degrees with about 10 mph steady wind Sunday morning. Quick breakfasts for all and it was on the trail by 9:30. Most of the early portion of the 3.5 miles we covered on Sunday was along the crest of Big Caney Head and Little Caney Head which exposed us to a pretty gusty, cold westerly wind. It felt good to finally lose elevation, walk in the sunshine and head toward High Falls again. We covered the 3.5 miles in a little over 2 hours.

The lead group of Scout hikers learned the value of not getting too far ahead of the rest of the group on Sunday. The rocky, “where’d the trail go?” nature of the Odum caused them to wander off the trail on a path that seemed to look okay. They stopped when they realized something was wrong (good move), and fortunately, the back group made the same error and we all ended up together. A little searching around and we re-established where the trail was and off we went. It’s always a good idea to be sure the group behind you is within eyesight so we have a safe hiking experience.

Good trip, good fellowship and a good experience for all of us. On to Blood Mountain in January!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

12/3/2005 - Brian Corbett's Eagle Project

300 Trees? 1300 Trees? Who's counting, anyway? For about 6 hours on a blustery Saturday morning, the troop cut, dragged, and chopped its way through an overgrown retention pond at Holy Family.