Sat, Feb 19 2005 - Meeting time has changed! Section 5 on the Benton MacKaye trail (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Bruce
Participants:Bo Slaughter, Vicky Taylor, clare berry, Caitlin Stark, Maria Laura Locatelli, TeKarna Smith, Gene Whitehead, David Weider, Bruce

Write Up:
After figuring that we had lost only one person who was previously unreachable (non-returned e-mails, no answering machine), we were on our way with a good size group with several from SOA, ten total with two to meet up north. The shuttle and meeting times went perfect; Marnette pulled up as we arrived at the shuttle drop off point, and left her car to shuttle drivers. Then we all traveled out to Highway 60 to Wilscot Gap, and Janet (my co-leader with SOA) was already waiting; and had wonderful Chocolate Chip cookies to share with everyone. We all helped her to consume them, many of us having several to start us off with a good sugar buzz. The weather started out good, with sunshine and relatively warm temperatures at Wilscot Gap. The more the trail climbed however, the cooler it became as we made our way up the shoulders of Tipton Mountain to Brawley Mountain; and breezes picked up with the distant views from the ridgetops.

Janet, Caitlin, Cathy and myself were lagging behind as the trail climbed more, and we met the rest of the group who had gone off to wonder at the mystery small grandstands at the last gap before climbing Brawley Moutain. They were right next to the forest service road behind the grassy meadow at the gap; several thought they supported a chicken-fighting arena. I thought, being right next to the road, they were for forest ranger presentations or place for a mountain movie theater with the handy rock wall backdrop. On the last climb to Brawley Mountain, a lengthy uphill, but not brutal climb; the leader and Janet were passed by Cathy and Caitlin in turn; as the fearless leader became very noticeably out of breath and leg weary. This was to the extent, I had to stop at a point some fifty yards shy of the summit, at the Brawley Mountain fire tower where everyone else took a break. It was the most I had ever labored on any trail and first time I’d been too tired to go on. It had to take a break of several minutes without the group, and at the time, was very worried for my health like I had never been before; and had little clue why I had so much difficulty. Janet stayed with me, feeding me several orange pieces along with other trail food I had to bring up my blood sugar. As I figured out, with the help of Cathy Rogers, who showed me here inhaler she used for asthma, before every hike to help her breathe easier and lungs to take in more air, equating to more energy. I was so sorry to have to rest without the group, and felt some sense of shame about it; talked out of that by Janet (talked myself out of it later-resolving to see a doctor that week to find out what was wrong). Bob Glazer, and old acquaintance from SOA came back down from the top, to check on me, after I had some ten minutes of rest. I told him what had happened, and I decided, feeling re-energized and much better, still a little lightheaded from lack of oxygen; to move slowly up to the summit, with the rest of the group.

I sat for a few more minutes with the entire group before we moved on with the rest of the hike.

We had an energetic group today, much better off than myself, with my oxygen, breathing problem, who left a few others and me far behind. Bob and Janet stayed back with me, but being mostly downhill from the tower, the rest of the hike went much easier for me. The group only had to wait a few minutes for us last three at Shallowford/Old Dial Road intersection. Four drivers shuttled back to get the cars, while Caitlin and Gene Whitehead stayed with me; the rest having left over energy to do the remaining 1.7 easier miles all the way to the Shallowford iron bridge, the official end of section 5. Vicky Taylor and Gene Whitehead had to be back earlier, and left, when Vicky came back with her car.

The shuttle cars arrived some forty minutes later, Marnette having showed them a scenic, but graveled shortcut; causing them to be about ten minutes later than expected. By the time we loaded up in cars to meet the rest at the bridge; they had finished the rest of the hike. We all loaded up in cars and went on the short distance to the Toccoa Riverside restaurant, several hunting brewski’s went a little further up the road to purchase some to share at dinner. We were allowed to sit down early at our large table until the restaurant started serving at 4:30, and the beer group came back just in time for us to order all together. All enjoyed each others company and many laughs (and I helped), hiking talk; shared information about the GATC, and other subjects; and as usual, I was sorry to see it all end; and return to the big city.
Written By: Bruce Aldridge
Photos From: Bruce Aldridge