PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN HIKE | A Guided Weekend Trip
MARCH 19-20, 2016
March Weekend Hike | Alabama’s Appalachian Blue Ridge segment
Cheaha Wilderness and surrounding trail areas
A guided 19-mile, two-day loop with a group of PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN first timers….
Those of you that frequent JBENSBLOG, basically my personal trail log, have probably noticed this is the same hike from the New Year’s weekend hike and blog entry where I introduced & guided another friend. If this is the first time to JBENSBLOG, then proceed to the link below for access to the previous hike.
Click on link to access:
This report will be a little different versus the aforementioned New Year’s weekend trip. It will involve more of a trip report about the individuals as oppose to the trail details with elevation, direction, and historic information. To access those details, the link to that report is provided for dual referencing if desired as we traversed the same routed direction.
If you didn’t know, I am an Operating Room Medical Product Consultant that represents a Southern California company in the Birmingham, Alabama area.
Hold on…this is going somewhere!
Recently, I have been involved in an implementation of a product at Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center in Anniston, Alabama. During this time, I have truly befriended a number of individuals from the OR. In casual, non-work related friendly conversations, they discovered my passion for hiking and backpacking. From this discovery came questions of “Where do you go?” “What do you eat?” What kind of gear do you take?” “Do you have a tent?” “What would you suggest I buy?” I answered those questions with joy…because, I LOVE HIKING, BACKPACKING, & ANYTHING REMOTELY RELATED IT !”
So naturally, I pointed them in the direction of blogs I follow, my blog, and places from where I purchase my gear, etc. There was one individual, that particularly took an excited interest in my passionate hobby. His name is Neal Mulkey and he is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). He and his son David Mulkey plan to do a Summer Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike in a few months. This was probably why he took such an interest in my multi-day hiking / backpacking skills, gear and advice. Neal asked me about a good local weekend hike and I suggested the PIN-SKY-LA-CHIN hike. I also directed him to my blog post for referencing mileage, elevation, direction, etc. He did just that and put together the exact hike I had done on New Year’s weekend. When he told me of his plans, I didn’t have anything potentially going on that weekend of his plan, so I told him I would go and be a guide for he and his group if he liked. He was keen to the idea and the group grew to 5 individuals and I was excited for the group of 3 CRNAs & their sons.
Additionally, my associate colleague, Fran “Jersey” Iula (From New Jersey…hence the nickname – “Jersey…”) got in on the trip, making crew count at 7 hikers. He is in Alabama for a short period of time (3 -months) for work training and has squeezed every experience (ATV riding, shooting guns, southern cuisine, Trump rally, hiking & camping, Madi Gras, tornadoes, dating, etc) he could out of being in Bama for a “Southern Experience.” If I can find someone to take him muddin and get him to the Alabama Gulf Coast experience of Flora-Bama, his Alabama experience will be complete!
So the trip started from Adam’s Gap where Jersey and I were late arriving, due to leaving Birmingham later than expected. Prior to getting to the trailhead, I had decided to stealth a cooler of my evening’s dinner (…steak) about .25-mile away from Cheaha Falls Shelter (where a road crosses close to Cheaha Falls camp area) in order for a quick retrieval that evening after getting to camp … this all made us about an hour late.
When we roll up to the crowded trailhead, the crew got their backpacks on and after a few pictures, we started down the Skyway Trail.
Spring had sprung with the evidence of flowers and life coming back from the cold winter.
Everyone minus Theo and Carson traveled down to Lakeshore Lake and dam.
Everyone was out of water, so we all re-up’ed on water prior to crossing Chinnabee Creek. Everyone got a chance to test their new filtration systems.
Everyone enjoyed Devil’s Den from the Chinnabee Silent Trail and the sound of Beelzebub pouring water off of his falls…
We set up camp at Cheaha Falls Shelter and enjoyed our evening cooking and relaxing by the campfire.
I got a chance to make the inaugural pitch of my new 22-oz Zpacks Camo Duplex. That night, with the moon almost full, its light lit up my tent through the cuben fiber canopy.
The next morning, “PALM SUNDAY”, David (a ministry called young man in medical school) brought a stirring quick 10-minute message of the “The Heart of an adventurous GOD” while we stared out at GOD’s adventurous Cheaha Wilderness.
After the “Palm Sunday” sermon, we set out on the 2nd day’s adventure and make our way past Cheaha Falls, over Highway 281, through Turnipseed Camp to enter the Cheaha Wilderness.
As we enter into the wilderness, the fun starts with a 1-mile ascent up to the ridge where the PINHOTI-CHINNABEE-ODUM intersection is located.
From the intersection, we had 6-miles to cover on a ridge-walk of the Pinhoti Trail, through the Pearly Gates… Descending down the rocky switchback course of the Stairway to Heaven (or better said as the Stairway from Heaven).
We then stroll along the rolling, pinestraw covered hills until we hear the sounds of autos zooming up and down Highway 281, giving us clues that we are close to Adam’s Gap trailhead; where we had started Saturday morning.
After everyone arrived safely, we make our good-byes and live to fight another day…
As the hike concluded, I feel like a lot was learned by my guided trail-mates. Sometimes you just have to do something to learn…and through that, you learn what not to do!
Items learned by either an individual/ individuals:
- Pack weight – Knowledge of what to bring and not bring when hiking longer mileages. I described a basic and good rule of thumb in regard to items to winnow from their packs for the next time. If you didn’t use it on this hike and/or on additional upcoming hikes, there is a great chance you’ll need to remove it from your packlist…unless you want those luxury items and are willing to pay the weight penalty. Car camping is different… and in that case, bring it all! #HikeYourOwnHike #OuncesMakePounds #WeightPenalty #WeightCausesInjuries #YourHikeYourWeight #DualUseGear #LuxuryItems #MyLuxuryItemsMakesMeFeelWarmAndFuzzyInside #PoppyCock
- Backpack comfort – They learned about the different functions of straps, belts, and where to place items in the pack for weight distribution and convenience. #MyArmsAreNumb #MyShouldersHurt #ThatsWhatThatStrapHelps #ThatFeelsALotBetter #NoPressureOnYourShoulders #ShouldRideOnYourHips
- Clothing – They learned about clothing to wear. Cotton is not good…specifically denim jeans. They learned cotton is dries poorly and is inefficient at wicking away sweat (Unless your David M….he seemed to love taking his shirt off to “HULK-OUT” while carrying a tree-trunk for camp firewood…Ha Ha Ha! Love ya Bro). #CottonKills #StaysWet #Hypothermia #MakesYouCold #ChaffingIsNotGood
- Footwear – I’m sure they learned something about the footwear and its importance. #HappyFeetHappyHike #SocksMakeADifference #LugsForMud #LugsForAscent #Lugs For Descent #DoNotSlip #MoistureHeatAndFrictionIsNotGood #Blisters
- Navigation – They learned how to read blazes and trails. #NoGettingLost #StayOnTheTrail
- Water filtration – They all got a chance to use and trust their new Sawyer water filtration systems. #1MillionGallonGuarantee #EasyFiltration #NoGiardia
- Cook Systems – They all got a chance to use their new stoves. #PocketRocket #FastBoil
- Sleep Systems – They learned about down sleeping bags and it warmth-to-weight ratio. Sleep pads are a must! #StayWarm #DownWarmth #FillPower #NotAllBagsAreQuality #LearnWhatKindOfSleeperYouAre #WarmSleeper #ColdSleeper
- Cell Phones – Turning the airplane mode on will preserve battery life, only turning on the signal periodically. Signals are poor in the backcountry! #AirplaneMode #SavingBatteryLife #BackCountryEqualsNoSignal
- Hiking Poles – Most of everyone had hiking poles. However, they saw the benefit of them…especially when the mileage started to mount. #SavesKnees #CreekFording #4LegsAreBetterThan2 #HelpsBreathing #HelpsCirculation
As for me…, well… THE MOUNTAINS ARE ALWAYS CALLING BECAUSE IN EVERY WALK WITH NATURE, I KNOW I RECEIVE FAR MORE THAN I SEEK.
Oh yeah…despite being on a “Ketogenic diet,” …with guilt… I got my traditional post hike bacon cheeseburger! I rationalized it by telling myself, I had hiked 20 miles in 2-days crushing my step goal by doing 47,000+ steps in the 2 days.
Heck, I still felt guilty !!!
Until next time on the trail,
jBen 2COR 2:14