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[at-l] Trip Report-Longsih, but only a trip report that Dawg and Tanasi could dream up

Shelley Hale is the greatest hiking partner. Shelley, I just want you to know that I learn so much from you, and as a day packer morphing to a backpacker again you can never learn enough. 

We met Friday night at Neels Gap and went on down to Three Forks. We sat in the van for about two hours tuckerizing packs and catching up. Shelley shaved at least five pounds from my pack. FIVE POUNDS. Holy Cow. I never could have done that on my own without her eye. And I learned some things to look for...with the exception of my dinosaur toothbrush.  I was so grateful. 

So, we are sitting there talking and gear debating, and this car comes down the road. We turn off our lights. A guy gets out. He messes around. Then out comes a dawg. He is gearing up. Then gearing the dawg. The he kisses the dawg. More movement in the van. Kisses the dawg again. He doesn't know we are there. I was doing play by play. And we were laughing like crazy. Finally, after about fifteen minutes, and three dawg kisses, he leaves toward Hawk. I have no idea where he ended up. And something occurred to me. If you hammock camp, what do you do with the dawg? If maybe he was hammock camping, what about pooch?

So we go back to the gear. Shelley tried to steal my toothbrush. Another car. WTH? This is Three Forks. Is 11:30. This is the middle of no-freaking-where. Who are all these people? Lights out again, which really killed me because my Adorable Daddy gave me a Zipka for my birthday and I just want to play with it. Then we notice another car, and another. This was 11:30 p.m. mind you...on FS 58. Holy cow. FIVE ASSORTED VEHICLES!!! OF BOY SCOUTS!!!! Well, it looked like they were staying, so we thought we should make our presence know. Then I saw the license plates, they are from the town where I used to live. So we flip on the lights and I go out and introduce us. Two slept in the back of a truck right behind us. 

The others set up some huge tent city at midnight on the other side of the road. It was Eagle Scouts taking the little guys around Springer on the loop. We really didn't hear them, you can't hear anyone else at Three Forks for the water. God forbid someone should fall in and yell for help. 

So, the next morning we made breakfast and another caravan shows up. ANOTHER FIVE VEHICLES. Not kidding. This huge group of senior citizens gets out. We already have the packs on and are about to leave for Hawk. Well, up the trail toward Long Falls they go too. Shelley looks at me with this look and says, "This is supposed to be wilderness." I figured they would go to the Falls and that would be all, and pretty much that is what happened. Because when we were dragging our asses over Hawk, we were mostly alone. 

So, we are approaching the Logging Road at Hickory Flatts Cemetery, and Shelley scares up a deer in the meadow. I didn't see him, I was about 100 yards behind her, but that is a beautiful meadow. I was admiring it, and I came upon Shelley and there is a strewn pile of trash on the other side of the road, which we decided to pack out. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pick up trash with a pack on? I felt like we climbed Everest when we succeeded. 

So by then Hawk is in front of us. Up and over. Geesh. Just when you think it is over, it ain't. But we get down to the turn to the Hawk Shelter, and the guy looked familiar to Shelley. It was Mountain Dew on a thru, and he said that Baltimore Jack was just ahead, and sure enough, we looked, and there was Jack sitting on the side of the trail with the biggest pack I have ever seen. I swear he had a Barcalounger in there. Or at least one of those blow up chairs from the 70's. 

So we had to make a decision. Do we go to the shelter (we didn't and I learned from my mistake), or do we go on down to the Gap? We went on down to the Gap where I had a huge MELTDOWN. HUGE MELTDOWN. This was biblical in proportions. Then it was time to go. 

Shelley started on up the 'no-name hill from he**', and I was left with myself. That's when the biggest lesson of the weekend happened. There was a second biggest, but this was the biggest. I cannot tell you how much I DID NOT want to put that pack on and go. I didn't. I really didn't. Very much so didn't. I had to just do it. I put that damned pack on and I went up the 'hill from HE**'. And I learned, sometimes you just have to do what you heart does not want to do, and I did it, and I am glad that I did. Maybe next time I will find the strength to do the same again. 

Anyway, the 'hill from he**' was bad, but it was doable. when I got down the other side, I learned the second biggest lesson of the weekend. When you are done, you are done. I was done. And the road skirts the trail right there, and I had my car key, and by god, I was getting a ride. I was done. 

Well, as we were going up the 'hill from HE**, two guys passed us, and put his pack down at the top to go and help his other two friends. I went down the other side, and I was bailing. They came along behind us, and we got to talking to them. Of course, my bailing helped two of them bail. lol. I encouraged Shelley to go on and do what we thought was Sassafras. And I stayed with the two bailers...smart guys. We were going to hitch to my car at Cooper Gap and go get Shelley's. She was going on with the other two. 

So, I got a ride in a red Jeep from a Ga Grad. GO DAWGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! As we go past what was actually Horse Gap (after I look at the map), I waved to Jack. I get my car and go back to get my guys, and I come upon Shelley and the two that went on at what we thought was Horse Gap. We still had two more peaks when I bailed before Sassafras. They were done too after those two. So we all went back and got the other two bailers and Shelley's car...picking up Beer Cans along FS 42 as we went. 

These were the nicest guys, and they needed a shuttle to Woody Gap in the morning, they were new to this and were just done for this first time. One guy (all were super nice) started the approach with a 61 pound pack. THE APPROACH TRAIL WITH 61 POUNDS. I heard about it in urban legends, but never met one. They resisted our efforts to pare their packs, but I have a feeling they will be carrying less next time. There was big time Croc envy...they kept eyeing our Crocs. lol  So, we all camped together along 42, and we took them to Woody in the morning. 

We were making breakfast plans at Woody Gap and this guy comes up and asks if anyone is local. There is a different set of four guys at Woody, two went on, two bailed. One was having back problems and was done for now. We told them we would take them to Dahlonega. Our original four guys decided they were heading toward home and Cracker Barrel, and we went to breakfast with the two who turned out to be father and son. 

Great Breakfast, terrible service. While we were waiting, our waitress came over and said, "Do you have any spare motivation?", and then rolled her eyes and walked away. We were all quite puzzled. 

Anyway, their car was at Springer, and we decided to shuttle them. That's when we saw the NEON PINK office chair behind the tree. And the Avocado green toilets by the road on the way out. Picked up the Kid in Atl and headed toward home and the bathtub. 

Terrific weekend. Great company. Someone needs to take FS 58 off the map. Pink Chair. 


Ps. My daughter wanted Spam for dinner. What is that all ABOUT?