I arrived at Three Forks pretty early in the evening. The traffic along 400 wasn’t as bad as I had expected. If I’d have waited just minutes longer to leave work, I would have probably sat in bumper to bumper traffic for hours. When I arrived, I knew I was going to have to sit around for a while because my friends were coming up from Atlanta. At 3pm on a Friday, you aren’t going anywhere in a hurry. Needless to say, I had a few minutes to spend alone.
I figured while I had some time, I might as well do some walking around. The picture above is Noontoola Creek. I took the picture while standing on a footbridge along the AT. As I have written before, I have a thing about bridges. I don’t know what it is, but I know it started when I was a child. Anyway, the water was running pretty fast and it was deeper than just the everyday creek. This was more of a river than some I’ve crossed being called that. It was definitely cold and not something I would have stepped into. But, I can say I have drank from it in the past!
As the sign shows, I wasn’t far from Springer Mountain. It wouldn’t have taken too terribly long to get there, but I wouldn’t have made it back by dark. This section of the trail is familiar to me as it was part of the previous hike. As you can see in the second and third picture above, the AT is a well worn path that can be pretty wide in some areas. I love the areas where it is wider because hikers can be side by side on their journey and easily talk to each other. Not that hikers aren’t able to speak at any other time, but at most other areas, they are walking one in front of the other as the trail becomes more narrow.
Just in case you aren’t that familiar with the Appalachian Trail, it is a roughly 2,180 mile nature trail that extends from its southern terminus at Springer Mountain in Georgia to its northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. It is designated by white rectangles painted on trees and rocks. Along the southern end of the trail, the “sister trail”, the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT), follows and crosses the AT until it spurs off and heads into Tennessee. It forms a somewhat “figure eight” with the AT before leaving to only cross again much farther north.
The trails are well signed as you can see. Entrances and exits to the trail, when looked for along the roads, cannot be missed. The first two pictures above are, of course, self-explanatory. The third picture, however, would be a mystery to someone that had never heard or studied anything about these trails. As stated above, the rectangle is the designation for the AT. The white diamond is the designation for the Benton MacKaye. Where the AT is well worn, the BMT is less worn and is known to be more of a primitive trail. I would love to see some of the BMT as there is a beautiful cable bridge hikers have to cross.
As the evening went along, the birds in the trees were not the only thing calling. When Mother Nature decides it’s the right moment, she becomes determined to make you heed her call. And so, I had to go for a more wooded hike and dig. While in the woods, I heard my friends arrive in their S10 pickup. I had left a note on the window, stating rather blatantly what I had gone to do. When I reached the car, I saw where they had written on the note that one would return after dropping the other off. I waited for a little while and decided to carry on. I met him on the way and then we traveled 2-3 more miles down the dirt road to the campsites.
To be continued….