A canopy of leaves

Maybe you had too much too fast and just overplayed your part

Day 2, Meadow Branch to U.S. 280/Pinhoti Outdoor Center

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Yesterday ended with more walking than we preferred. When we finally stopped, Tengo Hambre, Rev, and I settled upon a camping spot that wasn't perfect, but at least we found it before nightfall.

The terrain for today looked to be about the same as yesterday. We would start with a climb, followed by several ups and downs. Then the trail would flatten with more road walking.

Weather Mostly cloudy and breezy, with temperatures from the low 60s to around 80.
Trail Conditions Inconsistently marked, some easy stream crossings, and a long road walk.
Today's Miles 12.1 miles
Trip Miles 23.4 miles

There were no loose, aggressive dogs on yesterday's road section to bother us. Though I was hoping that would be the case again today, I knew the miles of roads on our route would increase the likelihood of running into angry dogs. The Pinhoti has a reputation for them harassing hikers.

At least Tengo and I came prepared. We were armed with a two-pronged defense: Milk Bone biscuits and small containers of pepper spray.

Rev and Tengo Hambre pack before leaving

Rev, Tengo, and I took a leisurely time preparing to leave camp this morning. Sunrise was at 6:20 a.m., yet an hour later, we still weren't ready to hike. Our late finish yesterday may have had something to do with our slow start. Still, there wasn't a need for any urgency.

We planned to stay tonight at a hostel called Pinhoti Outdoor Center (POC) and knew that was only about 12 miles away. The long section of road walking would help get us there well before dark.

Hiking a flat section of trail

When we finally began walking, the trail took us over gently rolling terrain. The morning started cool but comfortable, and we didn't need a light jacket.

Meadow Branch

Our campsite for last night wasn't directly on the banks of Meadow Branch but was less than a quarter mile from it. We were closer to a different small stream, which likely flowed into Meadow Branch. I couldn’t tell for sure about that because the stream wasn't shown on FarOut app's topographic map.

Rev walks along a stream

After crossing Meadow Branch, we soon came upon another stream. This one appeared on the map as a dashed blue line, which means it generally flows seasonally. There was plenty of water today, though it wasn't deep.

If the stream had a name, it wasn't shown on the map.

heartleaf foamflower in bloom

Unlike yesterday, wildflowers were abundant today. The first I saw was heartleaf foamflower. It is a native wildflower, though it is also cultivated to be sold commercially.

Mouse-eared tickseed flowers

Mouse-eared tickseed appeared in an opening with a little sunlight. This wildflower is also a native of the southeastern U.S.

Tengo Hambre and Rev cross a stream

We followed the no-name stream on a gradual uphill path for about a half-mile. The trail crossed it a couple of times, and these spots presented a little challenge for crossing without getting our feet wet. The rocks in the stream were small and barely exposed above the water.

No one slipped or got their feet wet, but if they had, the water wouldn't have flowed much above their shoes.

Sticks indicate this isn't the trail

The trail eventually made a turn to climb away from the stream. It now went much more steeply up to the top of Terrapin Hill.

I had to stop for a moment on this climb to make certain I was going the right way. The trail seemed to turn. Then I noticed this footpath didn't look as worn as before, and sticks and small logs were lying across it.

Most likely, that was an old path for the trail. It looked like a new trail section was started here, and the old trail was purposefully covered with forest debris.

A narrow trail

The way I needed to go appeared new because it wasn't as worn. Helpfully, a blaze on a tree marked the way.

pink azalea blossoms

The most showy of wildflowers I passed this morning were pink azaleas, which are also known as pinxter flowers.

The word "pinxter" comes from the Dutch word for Pentecost. It is said that this flower will typically bloom around the time of the Christian holiday. If that's true, these flowers arrived much too soon because Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after Easter, and Easter was still four days away.

Remnants of an old still

After completing our climb, we descended to another stream. This one was so narrow that no rocks were needed to hop across.

A couple of old rusty barrels appeared on the other side. If they weren't the remnants of a moonshine still, I couldn't think of another reason why they would be here.

dwarf violet iris

On the way up the next climb, we passed a small bed of dwarf violet iris. There are many similar varieties of irises that grow in Alabama and the southeast. This particular variety, Iris verna, is mostly found in mountainous areas.

A deer stand lying on its side

Where the trail crested Terrapin Hill, it followed a wide, grassy gap between trees, with just a hint of a double track to indicate this was a forest road. There wasn’t any bare ground, so the road wasn't heavily used, but a dilapidated deer stand proved hunters use this area.

Pink azaleas

The sky was mostly overcast this morning, but as I walked along the road, a small amount of sun came out just in time to brilliantly highlight another patch of azalea blossoms.

Tengo and I stopped for a break at 10 a.m. We hadn't seen Rev in more than an hour.

A narrow stream of water

We didn't see him again until about 30 minutes later when we stopped for water at a stream. Rev told us he missed a turn and added some bonus mileage to his hike.

I saw what looked like a tick while we were getting water and decided I should put on some insect repellent. When Rev arrived, we started talking and I forgot to do that.

I was starting to feel weary when I eventually remembered about the insect repellent. I found a log to sit on near Mill Creek, put on some insect repellent, and took a break.

Sitting down made me realize my feet were hurting, so I took a couple of ibuprofen.

Kimm's campsite

Had I known I was so close to a small campsite, I would have continued and stopped there.

I had been separated from Tengo and Rev for the last two hours, and I didn't remember either one of them passing me. I knew I had been walking slower than usual, so I became concerned one or both of them had made another wrong turn.

A mailbox was at the campsite, and in it was a hiker logbook. Tengo had written his name in it nearly an hour ago. He must not have been feeling as fatigued as I was and didn't need a break. Rev's name wasn't there.

Though I was already falling behind Tengo, I decided to sit at the campsite's picnic table and eat lunch, figuring that would give me a much-needed boost of energy.

Hardy orange blossom

When I reached the road, I found a variety of flowers I had not seen before. It was called hardy orange. It is a woody shrub that isn't native to Alabama, but once it was introduced it started to grow wild.

When the white blossoms fade, a hairy, orange fruit about the size of a golf ball will form, which is edible though seedy and tart.

U.S. Highway 231 and State Highway 21

I knew when I reached the road, I would turn to where it joined U.S. Highway 231 and State Highway 21. However, when I got there, I failed to follow the rule I've learned too many times: When a trail junction isn't marked, stop and look at a map.

I thought I knew which direction the trail went, so I turned left. I only walked a tenth of a mile or so before remembering to follow the rule. Discovering my mistake, I turned around and walked to the highway.

The trail turns from the highway to a county road

There was no shoulder on the highway, and several cars and trucks passed me. Each time, I had to step off the pavement. Thankfully, this section wasn't much more than a half-mile long before the trail turned to follow a county road.

I was accosted by two large dogs soon after I started down the road. They didn't approach closely enough for me to be concerned about getting bit. To be certain, though, I tossed them a couple of dog biscuits, and they stopped barking.

A little farther up the road, a man named Tony stopped his truck to talk to me. He told me he lets hikers camp by his lake, which was nearby.

Tony knew it was still early in the day, but mentioned he likes to prepare food for anyone who stays there and never takes money for it. I thanked him for his kindness, adding that I wanted to continue walking for a few more hours.

At the next road junction, the trail turned east and headed to a small community called Stewartville, which included a few homes, a Dollar General store, and a gas station.

I thought I would find Tengo at the store, but when I didn't see him, I turned on my phone and found a message from him. He said he was at the gas station, which was three-tenths of a mile up the highway. I walked there but discovered he had already left.

Rev says goodbye

By the time I arrived back at the store, Rev was there. I went inside to buy a snack, and when I returned, Rev hit me with some unexpected news. He had decided to end his hike.

Rev explained he recently had a health concern and was feeling he wasn't yet fully recovered from that. He had been struggling today, even on the flat road sections, and decided to call his wife to come pick him up.

What Rev was feeling seemed more than the sluggishness I experienced this morning. I told him I was sorry to see him leave so soon but agreed stopping today was probably the right thing to do.

County Road 150

After saying goodbye to Rev, I headed down County Road 150, still wondering where Tengo was.

I didn't get far down the road before Tengo sent me another message. He was now stopped and waiting at the next highway crossing, which was two miles away.

I decided to wait to tell him about Rev until I caught up to him. The road was flat and straight, and with the help of my Dollar General snack, I didn't need much time to walk the distance.

Only one dog barked at me along the way, and when I shouted “Stop!" it did.

U.S. Highway 280

I found Tengo stretched out on the ground and napping near the intersection of the county road and U.S. Highway 280.

He may have had more energy than me, but the day was wearing on him too.

We needed to leave the trail and turn at the highway to get to Pinhoti Outdoor Center, but before we started, Tengo called the hostel. He wanted to make sure there was room for us and to ask if someone could pick us up.

There was room, but no one could pick us up for at least 45 minutes. The distance to POC was just 1.2 miles, so we decided to walk instead of wait.

A county sheriff's deputy stops

On our way to POC, a sheriff's deputy stopped us on the highway. He told us he was checking out a report of someone lying on the ground at the last road and wanted to make sure no one was hurt or sick.

Tengo confessed he was just taking a nap while waiting for me. After a good laugh over the situation, the deputy departed and we continued on our way to POC.

Pinhoti Outdoor Center

We arrived there a few minutes before Nathan, the owner, arrived. He explained that he had been unable to get back sooner because he had to pick up a mother and daughter. They had only walked four miles of the trail before the mom became injured. Nathan took them to a nearby hospital emergency room.

It seemed the Pinhoti Trail was taking a toll on hikers today.

Odie's buss

Parked outside the hostel was a small bus, which I recognized immediately. It was used by a hiker and trail angel named Odie, who drove it up and down the Appalachian Trail for several hiking seasons. Nathan explained he was keeping the bus for Odie.

After chatting for a while with Nathan, Tengo and I settled in at the hostel. Because today was only our second day on the trail, we didn't bother to do laundry.

I baked a frozen pizza and ate all 1500 calories of it. This point in the hike was much too early for hiker hunger to hit me, but I figured the calories would do some good after my fatigue this morning.

We were now just 23 miles into our hike. I became used to walking that kind of mileage in a single day last year on the CDT. The Pinhoti wasn't nearly as rugged as the CDT, but that didn’t mean it was easy. I needed to remind myself I wasn't in the same shape today compared to when I knocked out 20 or miles a day.

Then too, the CDT didn’t have humidity like the Pinhoti, and that may have contributed to my fatigue.

Today was a good lesson in not trying to do too much too soon. Let's see if I can remember this better than I’ve been remembering to check my location at trail junctions.

Nothing shaking on Shakedown Street
Used to be the heart of town
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart
You just got to poke around

You think you've seen this town clear through
(Well, well, well, you can never tell)
Nothing here could interest you
(Well, well, well, you can never tell)
It's not because you missed out
On the thing that we had to start
Maybe you had too much too fast
(Maybe you had too much too fast)
Maybe you had too much too fast
(Maybe you had too much too fast)
Maybe you had too much too fast
(Maybe you had too much too fast)
And just overplayed your part

This trail report was published on