Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chinnabee Silent Trail - October 2009

Just now getting around to posting this trip report. We just got back from the same area and the two trips I've done on the Pinhoti were totally different. This trip we had rain, the latest trip we had cold. Its still a beautiful area of the south. We started at Chinnabee Lake campground and hiked up the Chinnabee Silent Trail to the Pinhoti. From there, we hiked on to just before McDill Point. At that point, we had completed 9.5 miles and were walking zombies. The mile and a half up to Caney Head killed us, then we hiked on another 3 miles or so on the Pinhoti. The first campsite we came to is where we stopped. I remember telling Stacy, "there's a camp site" and I think he already had his tent set up! This is a picture of the trail head at the end of the parking area at Chinnabee Lake.

Chinnabee Silent Trail

View of Falls from Chinnabee Silent Trail

Falls at Chinnabee

Chinnabee Shelter

View from the Shelter

Rock Garden along Chinnabee Silent - yeah, that's the trail!

View from the Pinhoti Trail towards McDill Point

We made camp after 9.5 miles. We were exhausted!

We hiked out the next morning in the pouring rain. We knew it was going to rain, it had been windy all night. We were hoping it would rain in the middle of the night and not on us as we hiked. It did just the opposite. As soon as we packed up in the morning, it started pouring. All the way to Cheaha. We decided along the way to call it quits and asked a Ranger to give us a lift down to Chinnabee to the car. Had a great day of hiking the day before so all was not lost.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pinhoti Trail January 2010

Set out from the Cheaha Trail Head and headed south on the Pinhoti Trail. It was a chilly but beautiful day of about 38 degrees. Clear blue skies and not a chance of rain. Stacy, Kirk and I were looking forward to 2 nights and 3 days on the trail. We hiked in on the Pinhoti and passed several groups that appeared to have weathered the storms the day before on the trail. It rained on us in the morning on the way over in the car, but by the time we got on the trail, the strong winds had blown the bad weather out. But it was cold and forecast to get colder. The forecast was for a low of around 26 with a wind chill of around 19 or 20. That's cold! Stacy and I had been on the trail on a previous trip but got rained out so we did not get a chance to see McDill Point...the best overlook of the whole trail system. Kirk had never been so it was all new to him. Along the way to McDill Point we stopped at the Pinhoti Trail Marker and took some pics.
We stopped at McDill point and ate lunch. It was a stellar view. We met some guys that were camping on the point and one was from Turkey home visiting family. We thought about them later and how cold it must have been during the night with the winds we had. We kept moving on the trail with our destination being the top of the ridge where the Chinnabee Silent Trail intersects the Pinhoti and Odum Scout Trail. We would make camp and attempt to start a fire.
It got extremely cold (for the South anyway) and windy and we were struggling to keep the fire going. We decided to get in our tents around 7:30 or 8 and muster through the cold night. It was tough to sleep getting only about 2 hours at a time before getting cold and waking up. I was having trouble breathing in my tent and had to get up and walk around a bit. THAT was fun. I finally fell asleep but it was a hard night. We knew the temps were going to drop even more the next night so we discussed hiking out on Saturday.

The next morning came slow, but it did come eventually. We tried to start another fire, but the fire starter sticks I brought had frozen solid...useless! We ate breakfast, packed up, and headed up the ridge on the Odum Scout Trail. I have to say, this would turn out to be one of, if not the best hiking day I've ever had.

Its about a mile up the Odum Scout Trail to where it intersects with the Nubbin Creek Trail. When you get to this intersection, you are right on top of the ridge. If it were not for the trees, you could see for miles. This section of Nubbin Creek is marked with dark blue blazes and good thing because without the markings, there are spots that would be hard to follow the trail. I also would not want to hike this section in the summer as the underbrush would be tough. That only lasted about a mile and the trail markings stopped but the trail surface was well worn. Kirk set a blazing pace and we were on our way.

We passed a young couple eating a late breakfast and they were planning to hike the same loop but in the opposite direction. We later joined up with the Cave Creek trail after stopping for a snack. Shortly after getting on the Cave Creek Trail, we passed an older gentleman that from his questions, appeared to be through hiking the Pinohti, but was on the Cave Creek, and asked "where does this trail go?" Uh, What? Shouldn't he have known that. We did our best and he went on his way. His pack had to have been 60lbs or more...Ouch! We snapped a few shots at this stream crossing before lunch. Thats me in the red, then Stacy, then Kirk. As you can see, we were fleeced out pretty good. Hiking temps were in the mid 30's but clear blue skies.
We made our way to this overlook after stopping for lunch, and Kirk gave it a name. You'll have to ask Kirk about what that is exactly.
We finished our hike earlier than expected, by about an hour or so, and as we had decided, we were not going to spend another frigid night in the woods. We got back to the car, packed up, took showers at the campground, and headed to Tuscaloosa for DreamLand BBQ. Nothin Like 'Em Nowhere...for sure. We had a great 2 days of hiking and a hard night of cold in the woods, but all in all, its one of the best trips I've ever had. Looking forward to our next adventure.