Adventures ~

Yep, John has been around the block a time or two.

pinhoti trail workdays.

This is just one email of many that I received from John throughout the years.

10/27/2008 Monday through 10/31/2008 Friday

Pinhoti NRT AHTS sections and new  Rebecca Mt. Section , AHTS   Trip Report
Don Hymen, Rick Gushe’, and I trimmed roots, etc. behind the Trails Unlimited crew on the side of Rebecca Mt. upwards from the jct. of FS 603-b and FS 675 (old rail cut).  Work time approximately 9am to 4pm .  Kent Cooper and Pete McElrath had recently cleared the blow downs from Clairmont Gap to Porters Gap on the Pinhoti Trail also.

10/28/2008 Tuesday, Rebecca Mt. from Bull Gap south for 1.5 miles
Don Hymen, “Rigor Mortis”, Pete McElrath, Wendi Merritt, Rick Gushe and I cleared new trail south of Bull Gap up to the new switchback of the Trails Unlimited path then trimmed roots, etc. up to the ridgeline and junction with the existing horse trail.  Rick and also painted blue blazes.  Work time approximately 9am to 4pm.

10/29/2008 Wednesday, Cheaha Wilderness section and Rebecca Mt.
Kent Cooper, Marion Campbell, and I cleared many blow downs and lightly loppered from Adams Gap northward to the “Leaf Gateway” parking area.  Rick, Wendi, and Don loppered roots, etc. behind the Trails Unlimited Crew continuing up to the ridge line in the middle of Rebecca Mt.  Approximate work time 9am to 5pm.

10/30/2008 Thursday, Cheaha and Blue Mt. sections.
Phil Martin and Marion Campbell cut blowdowns from the Bald Rock trail junction down to Hillabee Creek then exited onto Hwy 24.  I left and went home to check on the roofers working on our home and came back at 4pm.  I used the hazardous blade brush cutter on the first 500 yards of trail from Hwy 24 south then quit at 5:15pm.  Wendi, Rick and Don loppered the first couple of miles from Adams Gap northward in the Wilderness section. 
(My work hours were 1.25)  Approximate work hours for the others was 8am to 6pm.

10/31/2008 Friday, Blue Mt. / Hillabee Creek sections.
Phil and Marion cleared the blow downs and loppered brush from Hillabee Creek northward to where the trail comes near the scenic highway then met Rick and me there.  Rick and I cleared the blow downs and lightly loppered from Co. hwy 24 southward for about 2 miles where we met Marion and Phil.  After Phil left to go home and Rick left to get his RV ready to move, Marion and I walked from Bald Rock down to the Blue Mt. shelter then on to the “Leaf Gateway”, clearing only two small blowdowns and lightly loppering the brush.  We noticed newly painted red blazes indicating the State Park Boundaries and that the Blue Mt. Shelter is on USFS property.  Approximate work time was 7am to 4pm .   I drove and met Rick at the Poplar Point Camp Ground just south of Hanover, AL (south of Flagg Mt.).  The AHTS section of the Pinhoti is now in very good condition thanks to all those helpful hands.  Please excuse me if I forgot to include any one’s name.  My total work hours were 31 plus 6 hours of driving time and the total miles for me were 314.

11/01/2008 Saturday  Flagg Mt. AHTS work trip
Rick Gushe’, Helena Uber-Wamble, and I trimmed the trail from the north trailhead up to the ridgeline below the collapsed cabins.  We worked from about 12 noon to about 3pm.

11/02/2008 Sunday Flagg Mt. AHTS work trip
Rick, Helena, and Adam flagged new trail from the old road bed south and east of the restored cabins down to the old pump house and pond.  My total work hours were 3 hours and driving time was about 3 hours.  My mileage was 120.   I went home Sunday morning to check on the roofers again.

"You may already know that Trails Unlimited was here at Lake Howard building the bike/hike trail during September. Well they took a couple of weeks off and just got back in town. One of the guys is finishing up some work here at the trail and the other two guys have started on the new section of the Pinhoti. Keith told me that Jason and Mitch are up at Bull Gap and have started building. He expects the portions they have to build will take no more than a week. I thought I'd let you guys know in case you need to notify helpers. I'll be up helping them when I can. I am really looking forward to seeing the trail extended further toward town. And if you have some time, come hike our trail at Lake Howard. It has some beautiful scenery."
Tim Presley

11/05/2008, Wednesday
Pinhoti Trail, Pioneers section US 78 south to first Hwy 281 crossing.
I hiked north from Hwy 281 using the loppers to cut annual growth and kick off loose debris to the gas pipeline crossing.  The tornado blow downs have all been removed thanks to someone or several folks.  Thank you very much.  Mileage: round trip – 141. Drive time – 2.5 hours, total time 8 hours

11/06/2008, Thursday
Pinhoti Trail, Pioneers section US Hwy 78 south to first Hwy 281 crossing.
I finished cutting the annual growth, etc. for this 2.7 miles of trail that had been closed due to tornado damage.  I left about 5 logs across the trail which are not a problem for hikers.  I took down both “trail closed” signs, moving one to the southern end across the highway and leaving the other at the USFS office.  This section could use a little more brush cutting in some places but is otherwise in really good shape.  Mileage:  round trip – 132, driving time – 2 hours 20 min. , total time – 9 hours.

11/09/2008, Sunday
Pinhoti Trail, ATCA section from  FS540 north 3.1 miles (Choccolocco Watershed)
O Kenny and I started northwest from FS540 lightly loppering as we went and clearing about 7 blowdowns (the one near “up turn hill road” took an hour to saw).  We hiked in about 3.1 miles working from 9:45am to 5pm.  O Kenney drove her big Ford truck.  The driving time was about 3 hours round trip from my house and the total time from my house was about 10 and ¼ hours for me.  This section could still use some loppering especially in the flat lands along the creeks.  We met a group of three backpackers who had started at Bull Gap and were heading for Jackson Chapel Rd. in Georgia.  They were Mike and Sherrie … and … … from Ohatchee, AL.

11/16/2008, Sunday
Pinhoti Trail ATCA section first 3.5 miles south of Hwy 55.
O Kenny, Dan Bedore, and I cleared several blow downs and cleared annual growth from Pinky’s southward for 3.5 miles (joining what we cleared on 11/9/08).  So, the trail is now in good condition from FS 540 for 6.6 miles to Hwy 55.  We also cleared the growth from 55 north to the spur trail back south to Pinky’s.  Our total time was about 11 hours each.  Dan drove his truck from Marietta,GA and Kenny from Calera,AL (I rode with Kenny).  The round trip driving time from my house was about 3.5 hours.  We met two bow hunters on the trail near the shelter.  The Shelter is in good condition and has a broom (thanks to Dan) and a register (thanks to Hugh).

11/17/2008 Monday, Pinhoti Trail Pioneers Section from FS518 north for 0.2 mile.
I cleared blow downs on the remaining 0.2 mile (which I’d started on 11/13) of trail and also used the loppers to clear annual growth.  It could use more brush cutting in a few places but this 2.5 mile section from I 20 to FS 518 is now in good shape for hikers.  I noticed a sign for the next section southward from FS 518 to US hwy 431 which said hikers will encounter blow downs and to use caution.  I did not hike through this part but will do so in the near future.  I drove on to meet Dan Bedore at the FS 500 crossing east of Dugger Mt.  We hiked northeast 0.3 to the Dugger Mt. shelter trail (with loppers in hand) and a few hundred yards on up the hill.  Someone had recently done a superb job of brush cutting up to the shelter trail, thanks.  It appeared that northward from the shelter trail will need some serious loppering though.  Dan and I camped at the shelter, removed some trash, buried some human waste (that was deposited right behind the shelter), and enjoyed a small campfire before retiring for the evening.  I spent about 1.25 hours of work to finish the Pioneer section and will include the rest of my hours on tomorrow’s report as well as the driving time and miles.

11/18/2008, Tuesday, Pinhoti Trail, 8.8 miles Dugger Mt. section from Pinky’s

to FS500
Dan Bedore & I hiked out from the Dugger Mt. Shelter and drove my truck to the Pinky Burns Trail Head and started to work at 7:40am.  We cleared several major and minor blow downs and lightly loppered the path all the way to FS 500 (arriving at Dan’s truck at 4:10pm).  We also carried out a large old tent that we found on the eastern slope of Dugger Mt.  Parts of the trail needs extensive loppering, especially the laurel thicket just north of Jones Branch Road, the creek drainage areas north of the laurel thicket, and many sections along the ridge line all along Dugger Mt.  Many thanks to all those who cleared the massive blow downs just south of Jones Branch Road this past spring.  It must have been a nightmare!  My driving mileage was 181 miles and driving time about 3.5 hours.  My total time (excluding the Pioneers section) was about 12 hours.  Dan drove from Marietta, GA so his hours should be similar.  As a word of caution, I would add that the trail drawn on the official map is vastly different than Mr. Parkay’s GPS topo map in this section.  It appears that his map is more accurate.  This could be critical in an emergency situation and should be verified and corrected for the next printing. After work, Dan took us on a short drive out and back on FS 500-K.

11/22/2008, Saturday, Pinhoti Trail, 1.8 miles from US 431 to FS518, AOA section

O Kenny picked me up at my home and we met Dan Bedore at the section end at FS518 and State Hwy 281.  While we were gathering our tools, Hugh “Solo” Hickman stopped on his way to Piedmont and we had a small but joyous hiker reunion.  We got started on the trail at about 9:15am and were finished cleaning this section by 2:15pm.  Our intention was to clear the blow downs and gently lopper.  The signs at both ends said, “ ATTENTION – You will encounter blow down on the Pinhoti between Forest Service Road 518 and Highway 431; Please proceed with caution.  Thank You, USDA Forest Service”.  There were indeed many trees down from a tornado last spring but all the damage had been cleared (except for two minor blow downs) by someone several weeks prior.  Thank you very much.  So, we used our loppers and manicured this section into excellent shape.  We had met 4 hikers from Columbus, GA and agreed to drive their SUV from the rail road / FS500 parking lot to the “Leaf” parking lot at Cheaha S P.  While we were there, Dan took notes on what signs he could make for the trail junction to the Pinhoti connector trail.  Kenny had picked me up at about 7:20am and I had gotten home by 5:45pm so my total hours were about 10.5 hours.

Jan. 11, 2009, Sunday, Pinhoti Trail ATCA 6.1 mile section from Hwy 278

to Maxwell Gap, Co. Rd. 70 
Dan Bedore and I cleared all the dead falls and a lot of the annoying brush today.  This section still needs a lot of loppering all through the route.  It would be nice to get it done before the ECT through hikers come through.  My total mileage was 197, total time = 11.25 hours which includes the driving time of 4 hours.  Dan’s time and mileage is from Marietta, GA.
John N Calhoun aka Mother Nature's Son
Hugh, Please forward this to Ed Booth as I don't know his email address.  Thanks, John C

Jan. 13, 2009, Tuesday, Pinhoti Trail ATCA 2.4 miles of trail n. of Lower Shoal Shelter
I finished clearing the blow downs for 1.7 miles (see notes on Jan . 9) to the junction with FS531.  I cleared several and also used the loppers a lot.  This section south of FS531 will still need some loppering  along the sunny ridges and in places along the cliff side.  I continued north clearing a few blow downs and loppering for the next 0.7 mile up along the ridge overlooking the northern end of High Rock Lake.  It could still use some more brush cutting in several places.  My driving time was 2.7 hours and mileage was 143.5.  The total time was 10 hours. 

Jan. 14, 2009, Wednesday, ATCA section near Pine Glenn C G. (2.6 miles)
I continued clearing blow downs for the 1.9 miles south of Pine Glenn C G and joined the section I’d cleared yesterday.  This part will need more brush cutting especially high on the sunny ridges.  Also, there is a huge uprooted Beech tree that is blocking the trail about 200 yards south of the access road to the game plot south of the campground.  It is high enough for a hiker to crawl under with a pack on but should be removed when possible.  The tree is about 18 inches in diameter and is on a steep slope.  I continued removing blow downs north of the campground for about 0.8 miles (east of Cole Cemetery).  I used the loppers here too but most of this trail doesn’t need much more brush cutting since it gets so much traffic.  The upper part may need it though.  I’ll report as I work my way north.  I’m going canoeing next week on the Suwannee so it may be a while before my next report.

Jan. 16, 2009, Friday, Pinhoti Trail ATCA section from Oakey Mt Shelter n. for 2.4 miles
O Kenny picked me up at 6:45am and drove us to Co. Rd. 94 trail crossing near the Chief Ladiga Trail.  It was cold.  It was 18 degrees at our house when we left.  It was still cold when we started to work.  We cleared several blow downs south of the rail trail up to the Oakey Mt. Shelter.  We also used our loppers and cleaned all the brush in this section.  Next, we went north in the pine barrens toward Wilson Ridge for about 0.3 mile from Co. Rd. 94, clearing several pine log dead falls and thoroughly cleaning the brush from the trail.  Phillip Alexander and his crew will continue working on this section to Co Rd. 70 (Maxwell Gap) tomorrow.  Our total time was about 11.5 hours.  Kenny’s driving time was about 3.5 hours.  We met two day hikers, Larry and …, whom we’d met about a year ago, near Oakey Mt. Shelter.  They said the trail from there to the North Dugger Shelter is in good condition.

Some one has placed a lot of small wires with orange flags along the Pinhoti.  I noticed these on the Horn Mt. Section, Lanie Hollow section, and along the trail today.  Does anyone know what they are for and who placed them?

Jan 26, 2009, Monday, Pinhoti Trail Horn Mt Trail Club section from Bull Gap n. for

1.5 miles.
I drove myself 1 ½ hours from the home of John N Calhoun in Leeds AL to the Bull Gap Trailhead and worked for 5 hours for a total time of 8 hours.  It was cloudy when I first arrived but the sun came out soon thereafter and it got quite warm.  I cleared about half a dozen blowdowns and leaners and did a fair amount of clipping with loppers.  There is still a fair amount of long grass in sunnier sections along the first mile north from Bull Gap that will need some attention.  I left off approximately 1 ½ miles from the trailhead where the trail passes close to the dirt road.  Carrington Rhodes aka Mortis, A T 01

Jan 27, 2009, Tuesday ACTA section 5.1 trail miles from 0.8 mile n. of Pine Glen Campground to USFS rd 553 (Co.Rd. 61).
Carrington Rhodes, George Roach , and I cleared several minor blowdowns and two troublesome ones as we loppered our way north from where I’d gotten to on Jan. 14.  The trail is in good condition but needs more brush cutting in the sunny section along the north end of Sweetwater Lake and also in several spots north of the Laurel Shelter.  Carrington is a member of the Maine ATC and helps maintain a section of the A T there.  George is from Round Hill, VA and does volunteer work for the PATC.  George hiked the A T in 1996 and I met Carrington on our 2001 A T thru hike.   The drive time from Leeds AL was 1 ½ hours (one way) and we worked for 5 ½ hours for a total time of 8 ½ hours.  The total mileage was about 165 miles.  Carrington also drove his car the same mileage.
PS:  The Suwannee River trip was great but a little on the cccccold side.

Hey Van,  Thanks for forwarding this to the scout leader.  I've heard from one troop but they were more interested in working on the Odum Trail.  We went to work today since it is going to rain tomorrow.  So far, since Oct. , I or my clubs and associates have cleared blowdowns and loppered to some extent the whole Pinhoti except from Oakey to n. Dugger shelters, the FS rd n. of the wood pecker farm down to the FS rd. s. of the old log church, the Vulcan tr assc. section from Adams to Clairmont gap , and the Horn mt. section from s. of the switch backs upwards from Scott lake to about 1.5 miles n. of Bull Gap.  I plan to finish at least clearing the blow downs in these sections before spring arrives, so, let me know if you want to do some grunt work too.  Thanks for making all those (Section 13) signs.

Jan. 31, 2009 Sat. ACTA section 3.7 miles from FS 553 (Co.Rd 61) to FS 540 n.

of Coleman Lake T H
Howard Gilham picked me up at our home at 7am and we met O Kenny at  Hardees in Heflin, AL.  We then drove to the trail crossing just south of Shoal Creek Church on FS 553 (Co.Rd.61) and headed north clearing some minor blow downs and cutting brush with our loppers. We met and talked with the new Law enforcement officer just before getting started working at about 9:30am.  As we were working our way around Coleman Lake, we met a group of at least 12 mountain bike riders, heading south.  We informed them that the Pinhoti is for foot travel only as the sign at the road crossing to our north clearly indicated.  This looked like an organized group “ride” and it was obvious that the some of the riders knew they were trespassing.  One was particularly arrogant and said “May God Bless” as he sped away.  We were quite angry about this incident.  We continued working our way slowly through the “woodpecker farm” north of the Coleman Lake Trail Head using mostly loppers to clear the thick brush.  We cleared a troublesome blow down just south of FS 540 and stopped work at 4:30pm.  Howard’s estimated round trip mileage was about 175 miles (Kenny’s should be a little more) and driving time about 3.75 hours.  Our total time was about 11.25 hours each.  The trail through the “woodpecker farm” still needs some loppering or, more preferably, mowing, and there are some spots southward that could be brought up to the A T standards.  Otherwise, this 3.7 mile section is in good shape.

Feb. 5, 2009, Thurs. HMTC section 1.3 miles from Bulls Gap northward. 
I clipped all the woody growth from the future trailhead (which is now flagged and staked) to the ridge top north of “Bull Bluff”.  I left all the tall dead grass for someone’s string cutter in the near future.  Mortis had cleared the blow downs on 1/26/09.  My round trip mileage was 111.2, drive time = 2.5 hours, total time = 9.5 hours.

Feb. 6, 2009, Fri. HMTC section from 1.3 miles n. of Bull’s Gap to the 2nd crossing

of FS600 which is 3.7 milles n. of Hwy 148. 
I thoroughly loppered the brush and removed some minor blow downs and managed to get to the 2nd crossing of FS600 by 330pm.  I left a major blowdown about 150 yards south of this 2nd crossing.  It is a huge oak tree about 16” in diameter.  It is high enough that a hiker with a full pack can stoop or crawl under without a problem, however.  It is the only downed tree that I left.  The trail is in very good condition from Bull Bluff to this point.  Early in the day I met a weekend backpacker from Sylacauga named James “Jimbo” Mask.  He was very friendly and very enthusiastic about the Pinhoti.  He planned to hike from Bull’s Gap to Porter’s Gap.  The dirt road for the first 2 miles here is in a muddy rutty condition due to the USFS contractor’s working on the water bars and run outs.  Be careful as you drive this.  My round trip driving mileage was 109.4, driving time = 2.5 hours and total time = 10.25 hours.

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