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Struggling along… March 19, 2012

Posted by marzwaggener in Georgia, Mishaps.

I woke up the next morning realizing that all the rocks that had fallen off the structure over the past hundred years had somehow ended up on the ground under my sleeping pad. Undaunted, I stretched out and washed up a bit in the stream that flowed next to the mill.

Nickajack Creek

After a long time of sitting around in my tent and feeling very clever about sleeping in such a cool spot, I finally packed up my impossibly too many bags and continued on my journey. I got about 20 feet and collapsed at the picnic table in front of the mill, where I talked a while with Sara and Jesse.

Sara and Jesse

I planned to stealth camp in an old graveyard which was supposed to have some old, haunted structures on the grounds. Taylor told me how to find it the day before. I dragged my cumbersome suitcase up the leaf-covered dirt trail to finally find the graveyard… any old buildings there were since torn down, and the whole graveyard fenced off with barbed wire. So much for ghost pictures in the middle of the night. disappointed, I dragged my suitcase back down to the main trail to find another place to camp.
The graveyard, through the fence.

So I kept walking a couple of hours. By the time I finally set up my tent, it was dark and I couldn’t see very much of what I was doing. I was also pretty tired and my blisters were hurting and I was just ready to be done walking for the day. I set up my tent behind a building that had some construction going on in the back, but I found a nice little patch that was out-of-the-way and hidden from sight. Not as nice as I thought, I found out later…
My tent behind a thrift store.

Just my luck, I picked a spot right under a bright floodlight. It flickered on when I first started setting up my tent. “Ah, motion sensor light,” I thought to myself. “This is handy. Light to set up my tent with.” But it was NOT motion sensor, it was on a timer, and every ten to fifteen minutes the light came on… all night long. I couldn’t sleep at all, and finally around five or so I packed out.

One thing I should point out about the Silver Comet trail: 98% of people who use it are on bicycle. So for them, the bathrooms being 8 miles apart is no problem. But for someone dragging a bunch of stuff, traveling at a 3 mi/day pace, this can be somewhat of a problem. A very uncomfortable problem.

I stopped around mile five to relax, enjoy the beautiful day, write in my journal a little bit. After an hour or so, I realized I would need a bathroom pretty soon, so I gathered up my things and started walking. I walked. And walked. And walked. No bathrooms. Finally, after three or four hours of increasing desperation, I came to a crossroad that had a pick-a-part junkyard on the corner by the trail.

I dragged the suitcase, which now had BOTH wheels split in half, across the gravel lot. As I slowly got closer to the building in the front (which appeared to be an office but was not), the door opened and a man came out, looking me over warily.

I threw out the best bathroom pitch I could muster. “Could I please just use the bathroom really quickly, I’m walking on this trail and the next bathroom isn’t for another five miles and I’ve been looking for one since noon….”

He cut me off before I even finished. “Sure, come on in,” he replied. I left my many, many bags at the front porch and went inside. To my surprise, it was not an office, but his home, which just happened to be on the pick-a-part property. Jacob lived there with the sweetest little dog imaginable, Lil’ Bit. We got to talking; I told him about my adventure and he told me about his experiences. I ended up hanging out there for a good three hours, making friends with Lil’ Bit and even taking a shower! Jacob had some great stories to tell.

Jacob and Lil’ Bit

The visit with Jacob greatly lifted my spirits and I set off again with renewed energy. I got a pretty considerable distance (comparable to previous days anyway) and finally set up my tent directly UNDER the Silver Comet Trail at the 8.6 mile marker.
My tent under the bridge – the sidewalk is a shorter trail called the “Wildhorse Trail” in Powder Springs.

When I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t feeling very well. It seemed I had a million bug bites, including a rather uncomfortable one next to my eye. So I stayed in the tent all day and fell asleep early. I woke up on Sunday and realized it was definitely NOT a bug bite, I had poison ivy or something of the sort. My eye was all red and swollen and itchy. I had first noticed the itching on Friday at Jacob’s house, but had assumed it was bug bites. Now I was thinking back to the building with the floodlight where I set up my tent a few nights before. I had a weird feeling about those plants, but I knew it wasn’t poison ivy or oak (leaves of three, let it be)… a quick glance in my wilderness first aid book confirmed I probably slept in poison sumac, and although I had it all over, I only got a bad rash in my eye. It could have been a lot worse but still not much fun.
Img0007_03-18-2012-PoisonIvyInMyEyeDramatic post

One of the good things about going so slow: I wasn’t very far from home. My dad came to my rescue and brought me medicine, cremes, insect repellant, and Diet Mountain Dew (my favorite drink ever). Then he brought me home so I could wash my clothes, as the oils of poison oak, ivy, and sumac can stay on clothes and re-infect you for a month.

Now I am better prepared for the bugs and poisons of the trail, and got a chance to update the blog (finally!). I’ll return to the trail later today or tomorrow and continue the adventure – stay tuned for more fun!



1. mutti - March 19, 2012

owie zowie, Marzie! Don’t sleep in the subway darling…or in a patch of poison sumac! Liked the rainy picture next to the scaffolding. You’re such an adventurer! Nice pics of the kind Mr. Jacob and his cute dog. There’s a treasured memory.

2. paulalanjones - March 19, 2012

Sounds like a grand adventure. I look forward to following along!

3. Donna Smith - March 28, 2012

You have a fantastic sense of adventure. I will follow along on your trip. I really envy you and maybe I will show up one day. God bless you and keep you safe.

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