Backpacking again

Well, this past weekend marked the beginning of a new backpacking season. The weather was great and Jolene and I had been anxiously anticipating the trip. Our destination was the Cohutta Wilderness in North Georgia. Our plan was to “car camp” at the Jack’s River primitive campground area on Friday night because we would be getting in rather late. Then, on Saturday, we’d pack up and pack in on any one the many trails into the Cohutta Wilderness. We were taking my youngest brother, Justin, and it was his first backpacking trip. Also accompanying us was our Beagle, Tennyson. He loves the outdoors and we were looking forward to seeing how he did carrying his own pack on his first real backpacking trip.

While the weekend was very enjoyable, Friday night was a disaster. First of all, it had been some time since we had been to the Cohutta Wilderness, and I mistakenly took the wrong entrance into the National forest area. We could still get to the Jack’s river area, but it would take a bit longer. After more than an hour of extra driving on dirt and gravel roads looking for alternative campsites, we made it to the road that led into the Jack’s River campground. Four miles down this road, however, at midnight, we were greeted with bright orange “Road Closed” sign. Apparently, they were in the process of repairing the bridge there. The only thing to do was to turn around and head back out. On our way out, we looked back to see a “Road Closed 4 miles ahead” sign just beyond the road we had turned from. If we had come in the right way to begin with, we would have seen the sign and perhaps had the time to travel north on 411 to the Tennessee entrance to Jack’s River. Anyway, we gave up on finding somewhere that night because we were so tired, so we drove 45 minutes south to stay with my parents. Oh well.

Saturday, however, was exceptional. We headed back out to the Cohutta Wilderness around noon and parked at the Hickory Creek Trail trailhead. We geared up and hiked in about 1.5 - 2 miles to a great campsite on the Conasauga River. We had plenty of time to relax as we set up camp and let Tennyson off leash to run around and splash in the creek. (which is all the Conasauga River is at that point) We saw just a couple of groups of hikers pass by in the afternoon. The rain held off and we had hot dogs and fire-baked foil dinners of potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and herbs. On Sunday morning we had whole wheat pancakes from scratch and green pepper and onion omelets with veggie sausage links. As I told my brother, backpacking is all about the food. :)

All of us had a wonderful time, especially Tennyson. Justin plans to do more backpacking, so I guess we gave him a good first impression. It had been a long time since we had been backpacking last, and Jolene and I hope this is the start of an active backpacking season.