It took twenty minutes to pack up camp and be ready to get on the trail. I’d decided I’d take the long route out, following Piney Creek all the way along until it met the trail coming directly down the ridge from the Pine View trailhead. The problem with that route is that it’s overgrown, and most of the climbing (over 600 feet) is in the last half mile or so. I reckoned it must be around five miles (I didn’t bother to check the map, it would be whatever it was. I expected to get back to the trailhead between five and six.
Obviously my trail etiquette and conversation skills haven’t improved
I finished most of my water before setting off, I’d be refilling my water bottle at the creek I’d come to as I exited ‘Cat Briar Meadows.’ It didn’t take long to get there, though I was dismayed to hear voices as I got near the creek. Looking towards Piney Creek I spotted a woman with her back to me obviously talking to someone further down the creek. I went up my creek to filter some water. By the time I’d finished another couple of people had shown up. I wasn’t going to wait for them to move on. I crossed my creek, found the trail, and headed down to where they were congregating. I crossed Piney Creek to find it was a group of 3-4 backpacking women. I didn’t stop for pleasantries, I just said something like “Coming through.” and bolted past them and headed up the trail at full tilt. Obviously my trail etiquette and conversation skills haven’t improved, but at least I didn’t say anything stupid. They were to be the only people I met on the trail.
I was careful to make sure my shorts were hitched well up on the next couple of creek crossings, and checked for shallower routes, and tried to keep going fairly swiftly so as not to be too late back at the trailhead.
It wasn’t too long before I met a side-trail joining from the left. I was a bit puzzled by that and was very surprised to find that I was already at the Siloam Spring Trail junction, which is only a couple of hundred yards from where I’d be crossing Piney Creek one last time and starting my climb up to the trailhead. I stopped for a Snickers bar to give me a sugar boost before starting the first climb. I thought about finishing off my water and heading back to Piney Creek to refill my bottle, but I decided I’d wait until I got to creek that ran down a hollow between the ridge I was about to go up and the final climb to Pine View.
The climb up the ridge was a lot longer than I remembered — but I don’t think we’ve ever hiked the trail in this direction. Dropping down off of the ridge into the hollow was a lot worse than trying to climb up it. It’s a horrid bit of trail at the best of times. 100ft. with 1:1 and 1:2 grades in places. I took it very slowly but the thick wet mud and water running down the trail made a slip and fall almost inevitable. When it happened, it was my own fault, and I only fell on my backside so no harm was done. Once down by the creek, I dropped my pack, filtered some water, and proceeded to eat some food ready for the main climb.
And climb it was. Steep, but it really didn’t take too long. The whole trip back was completed in under three hours, so I was surprised, but I was disappointed to discover that my so-called longer route was the same length as what felt like the more direct route I took in. Oh well, that should remind me of the importance of checking the map.
Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.