Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coosa Backcountry Trail

It snowed all over the southeast yesterday, enough to keep me off the bike today. I half considered riding my mountain bike on the road loop here, but my brother John wanted to go hiking instead. Yeah, that's probably a better idea.

A few months back, I explored all over Slaughter Mountain and there was a sign at Wolfpen Gap that said "you're on the Coosa Backcountry Trail, it's a 12 mile loop, you can't finish it in a day" or something like that. Sounded like a challenge to me. Today we gave it a try.

The drive up was sketchy. Snow and ice. Heading north from Dahlonega, we got stuck behind a lady driving 12 miles an hour, weaving back and forth across the entire road, through blind corners in the oncoming lane, talking on the phone! Unbelievable.

At Neels Gap, we stopped by Mountain Crossings and I ran into James Ingram, who I'd met at last year's Fool's Gold. Cool guy. Great shop too. My bro got some supplies.

At Vogel, we talked to the park ranger at the Vistors Center...

"Where you guys going today?"
"Coosa Backcountry Trail."
"What are your intentions?"
"... To walk around it."

It was an odd way to phrase the question. My bro wasn't exactly sure how to answer. The guy was cool though. He didn't mean anything by it, he just said it funny and it was good for a laugh later. He pointed us to the trailhead and we got moving at 10:30.

 Vogel Trailhead

The snow was challenging, like walking in beach sand. Every step came with a downhill slip.

 Coosa Backcountry 1

The weather was good though, the sun was shining, and we made really good time down to West Fork. Heading back up to Coosa Bald, we got some sun and the snow was tackier. For a few miles, we didn't even slip. Around Calf Stomp Gap we caught a group of about 10 hikers who were heading up to camp on top. One of the guys looked familiar but I couldn't place it. Later I realized that he kind of looked like a guy in some photos a buddy of mine took of the members of a meetup group that he goes hiking with sometimes. I wonder if it was them. Hmmm.

We got to Wolfpen at 2:30. I tanked up at a small creek just down the road and we pushed up the hill to a little campsite for lunch. The sun was gone and the wind was whipping. We tried to get down the ridge out of it, but somehow it was coming from every direction. I cooked up some beef noodles while my bro cooked up some oatmeal and cocoa using these weird little fuel tablets.


Sitting there, I just got colder and colder. In his bag, my brother was warmer, but his shoes froze solid. Tradeoffs... Eventually we just got moving again, back into the beach sand, up to Slaughter Mountain and down into the the cove.

 Coosa Backcountry 2

Wolf Creek looked pretty awesome.

 Wolf Creek

We got back to the truck at 5:15. It took us almost 7 hours, but we managed it. My knees are a little trashed though, all those random rocks under the snow... If it wasn't Valentines Day tomorrow, I could really go for a recovery ride. Was it fun? Yeah, kind-of. Both fun and painful. Cool to do, but I think I've had enough snow hiking this year.

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