Thursday, October 18, 2007

A bit of a rest, and then a fumble

After determining that the huge, bruised-feeling area on the side of my foot was more than just, well, a bruise, I took a couple of days off. By October 1st, I was feeling ready to test my (foot's) mettle again, but not comfortable doing so at an AT workday, since I had no idea what that might entail. So instead I made an effort to hike a little section of AT down near Erwin. From what my Tennessee Atlas & Gazetteer showed, there appeared to be an old forest road that intersected with the AT. This was also confirmed by my (admittedly out-of-date) AT guide. When I got there, however, I was to learn that this would be no easy intersection to find.

I braved a narrow, winding, unpaved Forest Road 230, and had to yield to a convoy of dumptrucks before I found its intersection with the older Forest Road. The older Forest Road (235, if you're curious) was, as I expected, gated near its intersection with 230. There was ample room to park a car or two there, so I pulled off and gathered up my gear. There was a cute, tinkly little stream running along 230 here, which I had to cross to walk up 235. Nothing worth going out of your way for, but I suppose if you're in the neighborhood...nah, don't bother, even then.

After one or two tenths of a mile, the graveled and graded portion of 235 peters out into a little open field. Beyond that point, the old roadtrack continues, but as one might expect of such a disused thoroughfare, gets progressively more difficult to follow as it goes. At one point I found myself in what looked to be someone's back 40, where an old, old barn or shed stored some very modern-looking building supplies. Deciding that I had somehow managed to leave the road I was trying to follow, I backtracked a bit, and sure enough saw, from this different angle, the roadway I sought. So I continued along it until I finally ran up against a large rockslide that had covered it, probably many, many years ago, judging by the moss growth over the rocks. Feeling discouraged, and not having seen any sign of the AT's friendly white blazes, I decided to give up rather than attempt to cross the rocky, slippery obstacle. I had probably covered roughly five or six tenths of a mile at that point (I had not yet started using a GPS on my hikes), and my foot was still not entirely pleased with me, so I turned around and hacked my way back to the car.

When I got home I looked to the interweb to try to find out what had gone wrong. Via a combination of Google Maps' satellite photos and a slightly closer measurement of my Atlas's depiction, I determined that I likely gave up just one or two tenths of a mile too soon. On the upside, even if I had been able to safely cross the rock fall, it probably would not have made my foot any happier to then continue on and hike the AT section I originally had planned.

So it was back to the drawing board, trying to find more easily accessible segments, and also another day off to let my injury heal.

Date: 10/1/07
AT Miles covered: 0 :(
Other miles covered: 1-ish
Altitude gain: unknown feet
Time: too long, due to bushwhacking and such
Other notes: don't bother trying to retrace this route.