Monday, May 11, 2015

Foothills Trail Thru-Hike - Out With A Whimper At Table Rock State Park

Foothills Trail Thru-Hike – Day 5 - 3/27/15 – Cantrell Homesite to Table Rock State Park –8.6 Miles

No matter what the weather or the experiences of the rest of the adventure, the backpacker’s mind on the last day of a hike is mainly focused on a change of clothes, a big meal and setting that backpack down.  A bathroom and running water is even sweeter.  With 8.6 miles between me and the car, I admit I wasn’t thinking much about the trail. 

In the wee hours the rain began and gained intensity, until I faced reality and admitted that my tent wasn’t going to be dry no matter time I hit the trail.  So at 6:30 a.m. I decided to suck it up and walk wet.  Cathy and I had agreed to leave about 8:00, but I was ready by 7:30 and told her I wanted to go ahead while she was still packing.  I knew she would catch me soon – and she did – and she passed me again. 

My pack weight felt negligible today – less food? less water? less worry?  The air was noticeably colder, though, a cold front arriving with the rain.  We wore shorts but kept rain jackets on for the entire hike. 

Don’t be fooled, even the last 8 miles of downhill had some uphill thrown in, a short climb up Hickorynut Mountain, followed by a longer, steeper climb up the side of Pinnacle Mountain.  Squinting and holding my mouth the right way, through the still-bare trees I saw wispy clouds swirling around the lower peaks below.  At the intersection with the Pinnacle Trail, I passed up the opportunity to go the extra .2 miles to the summit (after all, that would be .4 miles round trip) and continued on the downhill home stretch.  I’m sure I’ll be back to hike the Pinnacle on another (sunnier) day.

From that point the downhill got more serious and the wet rocks slowed me down.

Views from a rock face

Views from a rock face – watch out for the edge

At the next rock face I pondered the white blazes painted along the granite slope.  Hmmm, is it too slanted?  Poor judgment – I tried to walk it.  I slipped and slid several yards down, poles skating along beside me.  I wasn’t terrified because there was a line of mountain laurel shrubs at the bottom to catch me, but I sustained a palm-sized scrape on my left outer thigh and my shorts were soaking wet.   I gathered myself and my poles, stood up – and slid again, same scenario, making the scrape twice as large.  The second ride took me to the woods’ edge, where I again picked up my poles, dusted off my dignity and moved on.  When I told Cathy about this later and showed her my wounds, she casually noted, “Yeah, you know, I just sat down and slid on my butt.” 

I am doing Table Rock State Park a serious disservice by not telling more about its attributes, but the most I remember besides the lovely water near the trailhead are a couple of badly eroded trail places with exposed tree roots. 

My favorite sign of our Foothills Trail thru-hike

Clean dry clothes, Bojangles chicken biscuits, and Cathy and I headed for home.  Along the way we analyzed our experience (remember, the longest thru-hike for either of us so far?) and while we were happy with the accomplishment and would highly recommend the Foothills Trail, we agreed that we didn’t love carrying so much weight.  However, if we had added a day or two, shortened the daily mileage and rested more, perhaps it wouldn’t have felt so rigorous.  When will we test that theory? 

See I've conquered hills but I still have mountains to climb....
Right now, right now, I'm doing the best I can." ~Tracy Chapman

No comments: