Inaugural Hammock Trip

Inaugural Hammock Trip: Kimsey Creek, White Oak Stamp, Muskrat Creek, Raven Rock Trail and an aborted trip to Standing Indian…

Guest post by Sandi Adams, August 2011

Whoopeee, the first trip for the Southeast Women’s Backpacker Meet Up group and I was on it!! My hiking buddy, Salt and I met up with Hemlock and Margaret in Clayton for a weekend adventure. The weather was gorgeous with beautiful blue skies as we made our way toward Franklin and the Nantahala forest. We load up and head off into the lush green forest. I am extra excited because this will be the trip that I get to try out sleeping in a hammock!! Kellye, has been so generous to loan me her hammock and tarp, (which is kind of amazing, because to us our gear is like loaning out our Maserati!)


I always enjoy hiking with Hemlock, as she shares with us all of her wonderful knowledge of all things growing!! We have plenty of flowers to keep her happy as we travel along this trail and wander through a nice field, (which I am sure had IMG_1347some stealth snakes in it) Pretty soon, we come to the creek, which we will follow until we intersect the AT. I love this kind of trail, sometimes the creek was on my right, sometimes the creek was on my left, sometimes the creek was on both sides, (STEREO!!) and often we found ourselves hiking up the creek bed itself!

We all eased into a similar rhythm, of hiking, stopping now and again to take photos of the beauty around us stopping for a short break for a snack and continuing until we came to the Appalachian Trail intersection and headed up to our destination of the Muskrat Creek Shelter. I wandered ahead a bit, savoring the quiet of the forest (Rare, I know, but sometimes I am quiet!!) and enjoying stretching out my legs and thinking, until I come to the perfect lunch spot with a great view and a nice rock formation for us all to sit on. I have found the perfect jack-in-pulpit and pink ladies slipper and can’t wait to show Hemlock my photo!!IMG_1405IMG_1436





We move along and about half a mile before we reach White Oak Stamp, we pass a couple of hikers who tell us that Muskrat Creek Shelter is filled with a Boy Scout group. We easily make the decision to set up camp at White Oak Stamp, which is perfect for the 3 hammockers, (YAY) and Margaret who has a bivy.
Hemlock and Salt, my hammock mentors assist me with my set up,Joan demonstrates the importance of selecting a stable tree and everyone gets their space set up.


After scouting for water, we determine we will need to hike on to Muskrat Creek and greet the scouts….We take a side trip down Raven Rock Trail to a beautiful overlook and watch the sun go down. It is a beautiful spot and my only regret is that we can’t sit and watch it until dark.
We make it back to camp, decide it is too warm and not necessary to have a fire. The highlight of my meal was the dessert. Instant jello SF FF cheesecake pudding with some Nido instant milk with water added. I shared……
As darkness falls, the 12 miles we hiked begins to sink in and we all retire to our sleeping quarters. I enter my hammock, praying that the velcro holds and does not birth me in the middle of the night, wiggle around a little and quickly fall asleep….I have to admit, I did wake a few times but immediately dozed back off and when I woke and it was morning, I was already mentally placing the order for MY OWN hammock!!
The plan for the morning calls for more high mileage as we head back down the AT , climb Standing Indian, descend and then head down the rocky Kimsey Creek Trail. Sometimes plans change, my foot has begun to throb with what will turn out to be a summer long irritation, Kristen is not feeling well, Joan’s knee is bothering her and Margaret is nursing a burn from her stove. We all agree, to skip Standing Indian and enjoy the hike back along the creek.
We stop for a leisurely, foot soaking lunch, chat with some students heading to the AT, observe a little mole scurrying about and enjoy what is left of the trail.
We end our trip with a visit to the Spring Ridge Creamery for some guilt free homemade ice cream which we eat while overlooking the river.
Another perfect trip……and I did order the hammock…..

Hiking in Hades

August 2011

Very cool post from Dame Sandi Adams….check out her blog at

Overnighter on the Chattooga….aka Hades

Anxious to try out my new warbonnet hammock, I accept an invite from the Southeast Women Backpackers for an overnighter on the Chattooga River. Kellye, who I had met on a previous EXTREME Appalachian Trail hike, where we defied every law of common sense and hiked in some of the worst rain I have ever seen.( see previous post) and KP who I have not met, are my trail mates. (along with their dogs Sammy and Cowgirl) We meet early morning in Clayton and caravan to the end of the trail. As we pass the bank I notice that the temperature is at 93 on the bank sign and it is not even 11:00…..
We all pile into Kellye’s faithful Honda and bounce down some forest service road. We come to what appears to be a RIVER crossing in the road and Kellye makes us get out, backs it up and guns it through the water!! Woohooo! We wade across and jump in.
IMG_1732We finally locate the start of the trail, make the usual last minute adjustments to our packs and head down the trail. I am excited to hike on the Chattooga River and keep humming dueling banjos as we make our way.

It takes me all of ten minutes to realizeIMG_1748 that it is HOT, not the oh, I need a glass of ice tea hot, but HOLY MOSES, it is flaming inferno hot!! and at the fifteen minute mark, I am drenched from the inside out. KP and Cowgirl lead the way, with Kellye, Sammy and I lagging behind. We drank often in an effort to stay hydrated and stopped periodically to catch up. About three miles in we stopped for lunch and the dogs took a swim… this point, I am wishing I was a dog….in a nice air-conditioned house…
IMG_1854With some effort we pack up our lunch and head down the trail another 3 miles. Between the heat and a nagging foot injury, I started to FEEL it!!! About the time that I was consideringfalling over into the bushes, we arrive at a nice campsite right on the Chattooga River. (da da dadadadadada da)

IMG_1762We all have been affected by the heat and are a little slow setting up camp. I am soo anxious to hang my hammock that I go and stand in the almost tepid water willing my body to cool itself before beginning. Interestingly all three of us are in hammocks. Kellye, actually loaned me herHennessey hammock to try out on a previous trip, (I obviously loved it) and KP and I have a Warbonnet. I find two trees and with KP’s help, get my Warbonnet Blackbird andBig Mamba Jamba tarp hung.
Everything seems to take twice as long, due to the fact that the air is not moving,IMG_1771 the sun is blazing off the river and the temperature is climbing at 98according to my iphone and the weather channel (thank you Jim Cantor). But we keep the faith and after a bit, camp is set up and things cools down a little. We sit and share ideas and food, listen to a little Rascal Flatts and friends compliments of KP. Once it cools down enough, KP and Kellye have a fire building contest as I annoyingly hum the banjo theme from Deliverance.

Night falls and we all just enjoy the company of the river and admire KP’s hammock set up complete with sparkly lights, (I am sooo getting some), it finally cools down and not long after dark falls we each retire to hang in our hammocks. I slept great until sometime in the middle of the night when Sammy, (the beautiful German Shepherd) starts barking like a maniac and Cowgirl starts growling….I lay very still waiting as usual to be eaten by a giant bear. This does not happen and I slowly relax and slip back into a wonderful sleep swaying by the river as the frogs croak on.
Tuesday morning, found me the LAST out of my hammock, (WHAT!!) weIMG_1837 took our time with breakfast and breaking camp. It was around 5 miles to our cars but not an easy journey. We seemed to be going up and down a lot, though none of the climbs was terribly steep, it was still hot as Hades. We had to climb over, around and though many blow downs. (This Spring was tough on all of our southern trails.) We finally made it to the end by early afternoon and said our goodbyes. My first stop was theBurger King at the corner of 441 in Clayton where I used their bathroom to change into dry clean clothes and had a whopper and an Icee,which I had been fantasizing about since the night before. I made another stop at 23 and 441 at a Burger King and order another, a cherry AND coke icee. When I got to the window, the girl handed me TWO Icees!! LOL, I drank them both!!
IMG_1803One of the things I have loved about my meetup groups, the Trail Dames and Southeast Women Backpackers, has been the amazing people I have met and now consider friends. Women that I would never have encountered, much less spend enough time with to really get to know them. I have met, structural engineers, paralegals, retired military personnel, moms, girl scout directors, scientists, a whole slew of teachers and everything in between! All drawn together by a love of hiking and our gorgeous trails and mountains. I really treasure this special group of friends and always enjoy it when we can get together, (although I doubt any of us would recognize each other if we met dressed, with makeup and out of the woods!)


Backpacking Command Control

 Guest post from Trail Dame Sandi Adams

  Generally the command center begins to take shape 7 days out…

First, a corner, expanding quickly to the corner chair and creeping over the end of our bedroom. The spreadsheet has been printed with the highlighter nearby. A nearobsessive affair with the weather channel begins. Backpack has been emptied and slowly expandsas things are added and checked off the list. Ethel, my zero degree Big Agnes sleeping bag, goes in first, followed by my tent and footprint.

My new treasure, the Exped 9 down mat sleeping pad is next. (Homage to the eternal challenge for adapting my sleeping system to my old bones and cold nature.)

Next, a stove and fuel are tucked in the crevices. My tinypersonal kit, face wipes, Vaseline, contacts case, toothbrush and paste are slipped in the mix. (A far cry from the usual menagerieof items needed to put this 52 year old together!) Meals are packed in individual bags carefully labeled with a sharpie, needing only boiling water to turn them into delicious treats on the trail. 

gear is wedged in a front pouch. Two days of clothes and layers, extra socks, (always pack extra socks!)
and a zip lock crammed with mittens, a hat, and jacket in the event of cold finds its way into the pack. The top pockets share the ten essentials and snacks along with my beloved Freshy Freshetteand trusty trowel. My tervis mug, (keeps hot things hot and cold things cold!) hangs off the outside of the pack next to my super long spoon and a pink bandana.

When it is all said and done, a pack weighing about 30-35 poundswill take the place of the spread. My life for three days will depend on its contents… I think that is what I love the most.
The simplicity. The challenge to strip off the
desires and distractions
of the day to day. Down to 35 pounds of basic survival. To go where many choose not to go and see what many never see. Iconsider it all blessing to strip down and walk off and enjoy the peace and closeness of beautiful creation.   Did I mention I leave Friday?
“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration. “
Ansel Adams

Rainy Day in Georgia

This is a guest post from Georgia Dame, Sandi Adams……

Rainy Day in Georgia…

 So, I ask myself, “Have you lost your  mind!?” as I crawl out of my nice warm bed at 5:00 am on a Saturday. Rain drumming against my bedroom window and my sweet husband softly snoring make it even more of a question. I quietly dress and add my trail lunch to my pack, slipping out the door to begin my journey.

The DamesI am hermetically sealed in rain pants, rain jacket over two layers of breathable clothing, a gore-tex hat, and am carrying a pack covered with its own little rain jacket. I meet fellow Trail Dame, Denise and off we go higher and higher into the North Georgia mountains, slowly disappearing into the fog.
We arrive off Ga 60 at Woody Gap and meet Joan, Monica, Kellye and Melissa aka SHOE. Visibility is at 0 percent and it is blowing rain in every direction.
No one flinches when the decision is made for SHOE to shuttle us down forest service road 42 to Cooper Gap where we will then travel by foot to Gooch Gap 4.7 miles and then continue on to Woody Gap another 3.8.
After several miles down a muddy bumpy road, we  make adjustments to our rain gear and take off up the mountain laughing, talking and trying to catch our breath as we find our trail rhythm.
Our first wonder of nature is pointed out by Joan, aka Hemlock. TREE FOAM…. Tree Foam? Also known as ”stem flow” when rain water drips down the trunks of trees and forms bubble bath looking foam at the base. This makes her very happy. (Later she also spots a patch of false puffball in aspic which nearly sends us all over the edge…)
We squish and slide along the rugged path of the AT enjoying the sounds of the day, the cool rain,  the eery mist and each others company. A quick stop at the Gooch Gap AT shelter for a brief respite from a downpour, finds three through hikers, barely beginning their journey. I wondered how I would feel if I was starting out a hike measuring 2,181 miles in such weather. After hurriedly eating a snack, we left them in various states of preparation and head off to Woody Gap.
There were a few water crossings made even more exciting by the rising water, wonderful rocky outcroppings with views to nowhere and one of the fastest lunch breaks ever under a dripping hemlock tree with a cold wind whipping around us.
Not once during this day did anyone complain or whine. In fact the mood of these crazy women was upbeat and positive, punctuated by lively conversation and laughter.

It was a day designed to stay inside, to hibernate in comfort but we were rewarded by a unique way to experience God’s beautiful creation of nature.

More of Karen’s Waterfall Adventures!!

More of Karen’s Waterfall adventures!!!

The waterfall project continues.  This weekend I finally “captured” a
waterfall I’ve been trying to find for weeks.  It’s on the ‘net, but never
with any directions.  I found clues here and there and finally put them
altogether and got to the right place and found it!

Then today my sister and I went up to Cloudland Canyon State Park.  I had
wanted to get there several weeks ago, but when I called them they said the
falls were dry.  So after all the rain we’ve had lately, I called yesterday
and they said the falls had lots of water…so we went!

We only did the waterfall trail, which is probably less than 2 miles total
out and back, but it’s tough.  In fact it’s a lot like doing Tallulah
Gorge…lots of steps right down the side of the canyon and then side trails
to the falls.  The first 2 are the “show pieces” of the park.  They are each
fall over a sheer cliff into a small pool, but then below them are lots of
smaller falls with 2 forming together a falls of may 5 or 6 feet, then
there’s a bridge over the creek that takes you to another trail, and the
bridge is right over the top of another falls – maybe 10 or 12 feet high.
Then there’s ANOTHER one a little further down that’s may 6 feet high.  And
finally, back at the top of the gorge, there’s a viewpoint where you can see
a long, cascading waterfall coming over the side of the gorge.  Altogether
that’s 6 falls.  There may actually be more along that trail at the bottom
of the gorge, but we just didn’t have time to go any further.

The trail down has, I think, 600 steps – so that 600 down and then 600 back
up.  But even going as slowly as I usually go, we did the whole thing – all
of the falls, in just over 2 hours.  Not bad!

So I’ve been working on putting together a slide show of my pictures and I’m
pleased to be able to say that I’ve done 98 waterfalls this year!  That’s
counting “double” falls as 2 falls – which, of course, they really are
anyway.  I didn’t set out to get to see so many in just my first year of
hunting waterfalls, so I was quite surprised that it came out to so many!

Karen T.