Pinhoti Trail: All the Missing Switchbacks Have Been Found

Day: 37


Yesterday’s Goals:


Get up on time and hike till 5:30

Activities of The Day:


Even with the loud water rushing by me last night, I got a good night’s rest. I woke eager to start the day around 7:00 and was hiking at 8:00.

I crossed about seven streams while walking along this stream.

Mountain and Stream

I enjoyed walking through this field/meadow about half a mile into the hike.


Then there are several waterfalls, with one little one just for you!

Sunrise Over the Mountain Waterfall

I Walked off the Trail to Take This Picture of A Waterfall


And a Tiny Waterfall Just For You

I then had the excellent opportunity to climb a 2,600-foot mountain straight up it. I got to a dirt road and thought I was done climbing, but I was wrong; the road took me even higher. The descent on the road was steep in some areas, which messed with my knee, but I was still making the times I calculated to make it to a point.

Once the trail left the road and became a trail, FarOut told me it was three miles to a highway. That was the longest three miles I have done in a while. My guesstimate of how long it should have taken me under by an hour. So either FarOut lied to me, the trail changed and hasn’t been updated on FarOut, or I slowed way down. I am going with the trail change, which led FarOut to lie to me. On the road, I got a fantastic view.

Mountain View.

Last night, when I looked at the map, FarOut said the road walk would be a mile long; when I got onto the road, though, FarOut said half a mile to where it turned back into the woods. I am happy I only had that short distance on that highway. I did not feel safe walking it.

Once back in the woods, the trail started doing something it seldom does. There were switchbacks. Tiger, there were switchbacks! I found them! I am absolutely sure the trail boss of this part of the Pinhoti said, “Hey guys, I will take care of all the switchbacks on the trail.” Then, he placed all of them within this seven-mile stretch! My knee hated it! One switch would take me up and down, the next a long down, then a long up, almost back to where I was from the previous switch. I saw the trail five feet below me in one corner, so I just walked down to that switch. I know! I know! Please don’t do that because it kills the vegetation. Well, it’s winter, and there isn’t any vegetation to kill right now. I didn’t hurt anything by walking down those five feet. The next time I cut down was maybe twenty feet, and I’m sure it cut at least a half hour off my hike. The switchbacks wore me out today! My knee hates me and is crying or screaming.

This Whole Area Is Nothing But Switchbacks

On the last part of the switchbacks, I encountered a group of three retiree-aged couples out hiking. One recognized me but didn’t know where from. She thought it might have been from Facebook. That was the conversation we had. I was not able to add anything to help her out. One hiker I hiked with the other day posted a picture of us on the Pinhoti Trail Alliance Facebook page. So she might be right about that.

Coming off that mountain is a mile-long dirt road walk past a mountain bike club. Hikers can go there for showers, hang out, and get drinks of all kinds. I did not indulge. I kept hiking; the rain was coming, and I needed to find a campsite; however, after all those switchbacks, my knee said it was done. It took me about an hour and a half to walk that mile. When the trail cut back into the woods, I started to climb, calming it down.

While climbing, three mountain bike riders came cruising down the mountain, and I jumped off the trail to make way for them. All three were very pleasant and slammed on their brakes once they saw me. The encounters were better than what I had been told to be prepared for, that’s for sure.

After the third rider passed me, the rain changed from a light sprinkle to rain. I put my poncho on, hoping to make it at least another three miles to a campsite with water. That did not happen. The poncho was very uncomfortable, and my knee was telling me it was done for the day. I found a nice flat spot right off the trail and set up shop.

I did talk to Matt today. He and his dad have completed the Pinhoti Trail and are prepared to start the AT when the rain stops. I wish them safe travels; may the wind always be on their backs.

I might not have made it to 5:30 like I want to. I did eleven miles and got out of the rain before getting soaked. I’m happy with today’s hiking now if this rain would go away!

End of Day Photo


What’s Ahead:

The rain started around two today; it looks like it isn’t going away until three tomorrow afternoon. I have been watching this and tried to plan for it. I am prepared to spend the day hanging out, watching HBO or Netflix. My knee will be happy to have another day off.


I will be in the tent until it stops raining; I hope to be able to get at least a few miles in tomorrow. It all depends on the rain, though. I will also need to dry my tent out before hiking on.


Mileage of the day: 11
Mileage on Trail: 332/350
Days on Trail: 37
Number of Zero’s: 5 (no miles hiked)
Number of Nero’s:4 (less than five miles hiked)
States: Alabama, Georgia
Trails completed:
The good: I got an early start
The Bad: Knee and rain
Thank you for following along!

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Comments 9

  • Stephen : Mar 14th

    There is vegetation in the winter, it’s underground waiting for spring. And it’s not just that – every time you cut a switchback you increase the chance of rain eroding the trail.

    • None Given : Mar 15th

      Switchbacks are a critical part of hiking; 99.99% of the time, I would not have cut. Yes, it’s five feet. It’s an important five feet of vegetation, and I would not have done it usually.

  • Somewhere : Mar 14th

    Sorry you were so miserable on those switchbacks! I know exactly which section you’re talking about because I wrote in my notes from that day that it was one of my favorite stretches of trail in over 1000 miles of hiking. The experience must be very different depending on which direction you’re going!

    • None Given : Mar 15th

      Somewhere! I am SO happy to see you here! Coming south on this trail is a different story than going north, as this is the first section where your feet are dry for the day (going south before crossing the road and getting back into the creeks). I firmly believe this trail was made for the SOBO hiker! I will have to do it southbound one day, probably next year, as the Pinhoti is now in my blood. I’ve also kind of heard that more of the road walk near the POC is trail now. I might recover enough to meet you in Maine (in June) and work my way south. I don’t know; I am hurting from my hips down. I am happy to hear you got new shoes and are trekking along, though!

  • Richard : Mar 14th

    I am glad you found the missing switchbacks! Please don’t short cut them. Just remember that you are a beast of burden, carrying a load. The switchbacks are intended to reduce the grade %. Also if everyone did that, we would have more erosion and chaos. Please forgive me, you already know this, this is not a lecture.
    I am enjoying your posts. I look forward to seeing Spring arrive in these famous mountains that you are walking through.

    • None Given : Mar 15th

      Switchbacks are a critical part of hiking; 99.99% of the time, I would not have cut. Yes, it’s five feet. It’s an important five feet of vegetation, and I would not have done it usually.

  • Mark Brazel : Mar 15th

    How are you keeping everything charged up with all the rain? You talk about watching movies, and I read your post everyday.

    • None Given : Mar 15th

      I got a new brick in Cave Springs that helped me out. However I am about 6 days ahead of my post. I also only watch about half a movie as I get bored with it. I do lose this battle in the end. It’s a great story you will read in about two days.

    • None Given : Mar 15th

      Mark, I am ahead of my post for safety reasons. There is a way on the Trek to delay or schedule posts. That’s why they almost always post at 3:30 in the afternoon. Initially, I would write and schedule my post five days ahead. Then, I didn’t get out of the woods in time to schedule the next five days, so I got six days ahead. I also use my tablet for posting and my phone for navigation and talking to my sons. Rarely do either of them die. I do get caught and have a great story ahead for you! I hope this comment helps.


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