Back in the Swing of Things

The last trip I went on was about 3 months ago. I loved the trip, and will be posting some photos of it and a a small trip report soon I hope.

One thing that came out of the trip though is a a new knee injury. Really it was the same knee injury I had nearly two years ago come back to haunt me. What I have self-diagnosed (who doesn’t love Google’s ability to make anyone a doctor?) is IT Band Friction Syndrome. This is a real bummer, because it affects how long I can effectively hike without irritating my knee.

I decided at the end of the last trip to give up hiking for a while altogether, and see how some rest treated my knee. I was also curious to see how much I would miss it. So with that I stopped thinking of backpacking. I stopped keeping up with blogs, reading BPL and planning trips. This unfortunately also included ditching my plans to compete in The Bob this year. I still hope to compete in the future, but for the time, am in no shape to attempt that trip. I instead picked up bouldering at a whole new level and have loved it. I’ll probably throw together a post on this as well in the upcoming weeks.

What I have found though is that I didn’t make it as long as I expected before I wanted to get to the woods for some backpacking. And so I am introducing a new stretching regiment and workout plan to strengthen my knees and get back out there. To get me motivated, I am pooling together trips that I want to do.

I have several goals in the upcoming trips:

  1. Because I dislike the idea of two individuals driving separate cars 150+ miles in a weekend, you will notice most all of my trips provide a loop. This way, trips can be executed solo, or you can take advantage of carpooling to the trail head.
  2. Avoid the Appalachian Trail. An out and back trip on the AT is so easy to plan and execute, that I have seen most of the Georgia AT five times over and chunks of the North Carolina trail more than once. I’ve found what I want are new adventures, so I am going to avoid this.
  3. Experience and record the new areas near me. Along with avoiding the AT, I want to see as many of the trails around the Georgia area that are acceptable for three day backpacking trips. I hope that I will also be able to record some of this for others to take advantage of as well.

With this in mind, I have come up with the below list of possible trips. Some of the trips are barely more than a glimmer of an idea, but will come together as I get closer to executing the trip. I haven’t put the trips in any particular order.

  1. Cohutta Wilderness Loop – This one will best a shorter trip, creating a loop using the Conasauga River trail, Jack River Trail, Panther Creek trail, and some off trail hiking to link together some good sections of near-river hiking.
  2. Georgia Loop – A fairly well known loop combining the Appalachian Trail, Duncan Ridge Trail and the Benton Mackaye Trail to give roughly 60 miles of good Georgia hiking. This does put me on the AT for a fairly long section, but also gives me the ability to travel along the BMT and DRT, which I have almost no experience with.
  3. 2012 Fools Gold – This is an mountain bike endurance race held in north Georgia. Of course, there are many racers that accomplish this race in very little time, but I am not a great mountain biker and in pretty bad shape. It looks to me that this could at least turn into a very good overnight bikepacking trip for me.
  4. Southern Smokies Loop – I’m thinking a loop integrating the BMT and several of the smaller trails to the south of the AT. Using the BMT and these lesser know trails a person can find nearly 100 miles worth of a loop. This sounds to me like it should probably count as multiple trips. The viable loop options in this area are so vast that it will take a while before you have to repeat a trip in its entirety.
  5. Shining Rock Wilderness – This wilderness area is amazing and the balds above Graveyard Fields yield great views. I’ve done some hiking in this area before, but I would love to go back to do some more exploration. There are a few good loop options here.
  6. Cohutta Pinhoti Bikepacking – Using the trails.firstworks website, I can see a few different options for linking together Pinhoti Trail sections into a nice bikepacking loop. Details will have to follow on what I will actually do, but at this point I can see a couple of different options, possibly starting around FS-90.

My current plan is to take some rollover vacation days that I will lose at the end of March anyways, and execute the Georgia Loop first. With my knee, I don’t want to expect more than 15 miles a day, and so I will probably turn this into a 4 our 5 day trip with a friend.

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