Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tooni Mountain (Again)

The weatherman said it would rain all week, but it did not. It was sunny every day, except today. Today it stormed non-stop.

I had so much fun running around on Tooni Mountain last week, why not go for a repeat?

The drive in was rainy and foggy...

 Misty Mountains

...but Laurel Creek and the Toccoa weren't so high today.

Last week I found a couple of old roadbeds, with a million spurs left and right. Some were overgrown, but some were clearly travelled on a regular basis. Today I planned on exploring as many of them as I could.

Right off the bat I made some discoveries. Somebody rolled up a couple of old fences and dumped them, some time ago. One was partially unrolled across the trail and I got all tripped up in it. The fence was both square mesh and barbed wire. I was lucky I didn't get cut.

 Fence Pile

I found this old stovepipe too. At least I think it's a stovepipe. Maybe from a still?


I walked on ten billion trails. All old roadbeds, in various stages of being reclaimed. Some were clean, some were so overgrown all I could do was parallel them in the open woods.

It rained all day, sometimes torrentially. Last week my jacket performed poorly. I was far more comfortable just getting wet. This week I'd run by Dick's sporting goods on the way out of town and grabbed a couple of ponchos. One was a lightweight emergency poncho, the other was a Dry Ducks poncho. I tried on the Dry Ducks at the trailhead. While lightweight, it was ungainly. I can imagine using it on a wide open trail, but not on the kind of stuff I push through. The emergency poncho was much less restrictive, so I used it all day. I imagine it could keep you dry if you huddle near the ground and don't move, but not while hiking. Rain trickled in steadily and I was soaked almost immediately. I kept it on though. I'd put it on over my pack, hoping it would at least keep that dry. It did keep it from getting completely waterlogged, but I wouldn't call it dry. I'm going to try a trash compactor bag inside my pack next time. I think if it's warm outside, I'm just going to let myself get soaked. If it's cold, my jacket and pants are fine because I don't get soaked with sweat. But, I still don't have a good plan for when it's like 50 degrees outside.

But I digress...

The woods were dark and wet, but scenic.

 Wet Woods

At one very confusing intersection of trails I found this cable, half buried under deadfall. I've seen several of these, thrown to the side of old roads. Maybe back when the trails were passable roads, people had homes or hunting camps there and strung these up across the trail like a gate. Or maybe they're somehow associated with logging. Who knows.


I saw very little wildlife today. There was this turtle though...


...and I saw a little tan mouse, who ran up a rhododendron branch and "hid" just above me. I tried super hard to take a photo of him, but I use my iPhone to take pics, and even though I keep it in an Otter Box, a tiny bit of water does get in sometimes, preventing the touch screen from working reliably. When I finally got it working, the mouse was gone.

This was on one of the last trails of the day, which was the most difficult rhodo-whack ever. I couldn't even parallel the trail, the entire hillside was covered. The trail ended in the most peculiar way. Usually old bench-cuts end with a little pile of dirt where the bulldozer just stopped and backed up. Sometimes, if the hillside flattens, they disappear into the flatness. Sometimes they turn directly up or downhill and disappear into the fall line, if it's shallow. This one turned downhill along a very steep, rocky fall line and proceeded for about 10 feet. Track-marks were clearly visible, but disappeared abruptly. I studied the area for quite a while. There was literally zero evidence of the trail beyond that point and the terrain was not the kind I've ever seen a trail disappear into. I suspect the bulldozer driver decided it was too steep and rocky and backed on up. But I half-imagined the dozer turning downhill, losing traction and tumbling into oblivion. Who knows. Unique though.

Nearby, I heard the sound of rushing water. At first I thought it was rain, but it wasn't rain.


Not exactly a waterfall, but close. I imagine if it had rained less today, it wouldn't have been worth a second look.

On the way back to my car I saw a dozen white tailed deer. They're everywhere right now, but in a couple of weeks they better watch out.

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