A few weekends ago, I went camping with my good friends Joe and Clark. I had not been camping since the hike with Joe along the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2010. It was wonderful being able to get back into the mountains of North Georgia and breathe that clean air.
Our chosen campsite was at Three Forks, located along the AT, roughly four miles from Springer Mountain. The coordinates of Three Forks are 34.663577, -84.184214. Forestry Road 58 will get you to the campsites. You can find out more about the location by visiting the Atlanta Trails website. It’s easier to read about Three Forks campsites by visiting the Atlanta Trails website than me writing page after page of what I think about the place. It would basically be me telling you over and over how fantastic of an experience it is.
On that Thursday evening, I sat in the living room and packed my backpack with my tent, footprint, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, Jetboil® stove, lantern (which just happens to be green – LOL), and extra clothes. When I think about it, I guess it had been two years since the last time I packed my bag. That fact aside, I still became pissed that I couldn’t get my bag packed the way it was supposed to be. The pack should be evenly weighted, meaning that neither the left nor the right should be heavier than the other side. You don’t want a pack to not sit comfortably vertical on your back while hiking. I was very careful to not leave my trekking poles as I left them on the first AT hiking trip.
Before I carry on, I should tell you that I went up there in a Pontiac Sunfire. I didn’t take the Santa Fe…for some reason. At around 3:00 pm, I left work and headed north on Highway 400 which extends from Atlanta northward to Dahlonega. After a few turns and a few miles, I reached Nimblewill Church Rd. The first little stretch of this road is paved before having to make a right turn onto a familiar country staple…a dirt road.
I should tell you that this was not the same style dirt road I was raised on. There are dirt roads and then there are forestry service roads. The latter of the two isn’t normally seen after as often as those well traveled and lived on. Forestry service means exactly that as they are roads that allow people into the forest for various reasons, originally, in most cases, for logging and clear cutting. Since Three Forks is located inside a protected forest area, there is no clear cutting, but to protect the forest as a whole, you have to trim out trees that need to be removed due to pests or disease. Without rambling, forestry service roads are more rugged and aren’t that friendly to cars that move faster than 10-15 miles per hour.
It felt like I traveled on this FS road all day. There were some slippery parts as it had rained recently. Did I mention that the car is white? Mud was slinging up on the sides and, at one point, I thought it was going to get mad and try to overheat. It didn’t and I reached a confusing intersection deep in the forest.
It may sound astonishing to some, but I was using a Tom Tom® GPS device to find my coordinates. It was working wonderfully…at least till this point. When I say confusing intersection, I mean possibly four or five roads converging in one spot. I knew the road to the left led to the parking lot at Springer Mountain where we started our previous hike. The roads to the right would have taken me away from the coordinates. The only logical procession was straight forward…with one issue. There were two roads that went straight ahead and I chose the one on the left. I went down a rocky road and the GPS device was totally agreeing with my progress. It was almost saying, “Go, Forest Warrior! Go forth and camp!” I reached a point on the road where I became concerned. The road went around a tree and ended. Tom Tom® was even more eager for me to carry on. I was forced to turn around in a tight spot and get back to the intersection. I took the other road and, believe it or not, arrived at my destination.
To be continued…