Cheaha, take #32

We’ve been going to Cheaha once or twice a year for at least 30 years. Family tradition. And yet, every year I see something new. Like this plaque: 

Tucked up around the backside of a trail entrance, this plaque has escaped my attention all this time.

I highly recommend geocaching to help you find your way into some unknown areas. And while we did go into some new places this trip while geocaching, mostly the kiddo drug me off the beaten path. “Hiking” alone with a three year old and a dog proved… challenging… 

I regret how hot it was. Whiskey desperately wanted to spend time on the rocks. He’s amazing to see. He runs sure footed up to every ledge and edge. He was truly in his element. On the rocks. In love with the precipice. Running to and fro with gleeful dog abandon. I hope we can go back in the fall and let him have more time on the rocks. 

Whiskey on the rocks

Here’s my top to do list pulled from this weekend:

  • Put in a kayak on Lake Chinnabee 
  • Hang a hammock on the mountain side
  • Explore the Bald Rock Trail and make sure to get off the boardwalk at the end to climb the amazing rocks
  • Watch the sunset off the mountain 
  • Geocache your heart out

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I got my first Runner’s World Box.

I got my first RW box!!! 


That is all…

I’ve been wanting a flip belt! And I’d been debating buying a massage ball! But kept thinking I’d just use a tennis ball, except I don’t have one of those either lol!

I purchased a six month supply of boxes at a discount, including a discounted magazine subscription (which unfortunately has yet to arrive). For that cost I think I’m getting my money’s worth!  

My husband thinks the socks are ugly but, hey, it almost seems like a right of passage for runners to wear ugly things. (No offense but before I began running I looked at runners shoes as some sort of exotic wild foray into color combos and fashion risk taking. A big no no for this earth toned backpacker.) And performance socks are expensive. Okay, all running gear is expensive. Im happy to have anything so long as it fits properly and functions well. Which is in my opinion why runners wear crazy things sometimes. We don’t care what we look like so long as the products we wear keep our feet and bodies feeling good while running.  

Anyhoo, I’m super stoked about the first box. Keep it up Runners World! 


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Parking along Pinhoti Section 12

So between my last Pinhoti post and now there have been several years and not many updates. I thought about going back and writing the posts for section 4 through 12 but I’m not certain that I’ll devote time to that. Just because WOW at the time that would take 😂

But, I recently finished section 12 and my hiking partner had to get off unexpectedly part way through. It was going to be an overnighter with two full days of hiking, and she was picked up early on the second morning. It left me with a dilemma and questions I couldn’t answer. 

Where was parking along the section and where could I have my husband meet me if I didn’t want to hike to the end but did want to hike a little further than where she had gotten off the trail?

So hopefully people in the future who find themselves getting off the trail, not at the trailhead to section 12 but somewhere in between, can use this post to see what parking is like along the route.

And actually, the answer to that question is parking is pretty damn good. 

Both trailheads (FS 500 & Highpoint Trailhead) have ample parking and seemed safe. At both trailheads there were other vehicles, though to be honest many of them seem to be hunters with only a few hikers sprinkled in here there for good measure. I did not feel unsafe and at least in the case of the Forest Service Rd I saw several Forest Service  vehicles go by both times that I was there. 

At Highpoint there were some locals who wandered out of the woods… carrying um, a bizarrely shaped root that was extremely large- like a tree root you’d dig up. They were dressed in anarchy shirts, mostly in black heavy clothes, and not exactly dressed for hiking. Looking a little high… Of course I wouldn’t know…  I do know that they unnerved me a bit but I’m going to assume they are harmless eccentrics… 


On to parking! Here are pics of a few areas along the route.

Views of parking along Co Rd 70

View of parking along Co Rd 94

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Our Dirty Little Secret

Because I like you, I’m going to let you in on our dirty little family secret. Now I know what you’re thinking. And that’s not it.

What it is- is bugs, ponds, lakes, mountain views, trout fishing, train rides, mountain laurel and bears. AND easy access to some of the best trail systems around. Oh, and hands down one of the most dog friendly cities in the Southeast.

Im talking about Blue Ridge, GA. We found it the better part of a decade ago when looking for better “Gatlinburg” like alternatives.

It’s small town feel with quality. People vacation here, then often, move here. And I can tell you the locals and transplants are the sweetest most talented people. There are artists, chefs, engineers, retirees on sprawling mountain gift courses, and serious trout fishers.

You can find lots of places for guided fishing tours, and if that’s not your cup of tea you can while the hours away shopping quaint shops sporting local wares and eating gourmet nums.

Oh, and best of all? You can take your dog. Early on we  hit walls with our dog breed and size. But at Blue Sky Cabin Rentals you can book a dog friendly cabin stress free. Their pet friendly cabins are size and breed restriction free! AND we recently were able to bring three dogs on a trip (almost impossible).

We highly recommend them.

And as far as my running goes, I found that most places you stay if you search on MapMyRun you can find other people who have run those routes before. They gave me confidence to get out there and run the mountain roads even in the residential cabin areas. Here are a few pics from our Spring trip.

New ride means a new travel set up for Whiskey. He approved. It’s higher and a little harder for his old legs to jump in :/

Woods loved the train.

View from the train of the Toccoa River. Lots of trout fishing here.

💙💙💙 he knows he wasn’t supposed to be on the bed. Just look at that face!

I ran that.

Woods was in awe of the street improvements going on. He could have watched them pour concrete all day.

Sitting on the street watching concrete dry. Literally.

tunnel to no where on my run

Every morning I saw 20+ at least in deer on the road. Crazy.

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A wee addition and a three year hiatus


So…. it’s been three years and some change since I’ve posted. My sincerest apologies. We kinda had a hiccup in our family life, in that we welcomed a wee bairn into our lives, and life went crazy like it does for most anyone when they become parents. He was three weeks late (Yes. Three. No. Really. And yes, it was awful.) and I’d like to be honest here. Things didn’t go easily. From the birth, to attempts at breast feeding leading to over a year of Exclusively Pumping, to ppd and anxiety that threatened to ruin our lives. I’d love to paint you a picture of perfectness, with us traipsing through the woods every weekend, dog and toddler in tow, exploring all sorts of wild thing and places and that’s why I haven’t blogged lately.

But, I’d be lying. Terribly dishonest. And while you’re not here to read about difficult times as motherhood changed our lives forever, and would like me to get on to the hiking, biking, and exploring bit- I feel the need to be somewhat transparent. It wasn’t easy or straightforward for me. Life carried on around me, but part of my brain stayed stuck in ppd (postpartum depression) for a long long LONG time.

I’ve been humbled and encouraged by all the comments and messages from friends who stumbled across my blog, years after the fact and from strangers thanking me for detailed reports (I’m a bit anal about those things). All those positive words, no matter how small, were bright spots of encouragement and I sincerely thank each of you who’ve taken time to read my blog, comment, like, or email.

I hope you all will forgive my absence from the blogging world, and will welcome some changes to the blog. Here’s some key points to how different our life is, and how it has resulted in no posts over the last three years and how it will create different looking posts as we go forward.

  1. Whiskey is sadly, getting older. His joints give him trouble. He takes daily medications. He just isn’t going to be out there exploring as much. And I know…sometime in the future he isn’t going to be with us anymore. It makes my time with him now bittersweet. I don’t know how the blog will change or grow or stop if Whiskey left us. When Whiskey leaves us.
    A dog & his cat

    Photographic evidence of Whiskey. He’s alive! Here he’s joined by 12- the newest addition to our family. Whiskey 💙s 12.

  2. We have a toddler now. Life looks….different… than it did before. Our daily routines now involve deep intellectual discussions about poop and if we are royally screwing our kid up somehow by following a peaceful parenting approach (spoiler alert- we’re not. but we’re still occasionally worried about it.) And routines also involve trying to figure out how to get as much sleep as humanly possible which means giving up lots of other things. Like long backpacking trips. Or fishing. Or even day hikes.
    The Wild Wild Woods

    A boy and his nanny (oh, and his mom) at said nanny’s bridal shower. She’s moving away forever 😩 Anyhoo, this is the three year old in question 😉

  3. I have not….in three years…lost one pound of baby weight. This, seriously affects my ability to backpack. I’m afraid of being a slow waddling burden to my fast hiking friends. So I have not gone backpacking once since our son was born.
    Being obese is horrible. Trying to lose weight and failing is horrible. Not feeling confident in your ability to physically do the thing that used to make you you is horrible. It’s all effing horrible. BUT… I haven’t given up. 

    Taking steps to get healthy

  4. I have taken up running to get back in shape. There will be running posts. No, Whiskey isn’t running with me. But you will see some posts where he gets to explore with me. Promise! 

    Me and Woods after completing my first 5k this March. I did okay at 39 minutes. Slow but steady right?

So this means for you dear reader: more kiddo friendly posts, a little less Whiskey, a LOT more running.




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Year of the (3) Horses

My husband pointed out yesterday that he’s not quite sure when he last saw a post from me (busted). I’ve also found myself deleting my blog’s address from the signature line of my emails when I send them.

Ultimately I’m embarrassed I haven’t been updating the blog. But with good reason…

The last backpacking trip I was able to take.

The last backpacking trip I was able to take.

Here I am in May 2013, near the Dugger Wilderness part of the Pinhoti, getting McDowell, my then hiking partner to snap a picture of me trying to cheerfully indicate to the world on top of this mountain that I was five weeks pregnant. I will never make a good mime I’m afraid and this is why I refuse to play charades.

I fully intended to keep hiking/backpacking well into my third trimester. But on the 6th week when I returned to work from this trip I became violently ill and thus began my initiation into the sometimes rough road of pregnancy. I reeled from one oddness to another, clinging to my belief that despite my bodies apparent betrayal of its ability to do, well, anything easily, that this temporary weirdness would pass and I’d be back out there backpacking and hiking with my dog. I did not. I went from morning sickness to food aversion where the only foods I seemed to be able to tolerate were donuts and garlic bread. I went from not gaining any weight (food aversion style!) to sudden and crazy weight gain despite not changing much of my eating habits once the food aversion had passed. Then on to horrible scoliosis pain and then I lost the feeling in my knees as they were first bruised from various activities at work and also at home with physical therapy in attempts to help my scoliosis improve. My body, unused to the extra weight my knees then bared resulted in bruised, & eventually nerve damaged knees that went numb and tingly whenever I bent them with pain radiating out from where the nerves still worked fine (I gave up on actually using them, even crawling into the bed became nearly impossible without creating excruciating pain in my knees/legs).

The health issues sort of snowballed into colds that wouldn’t go away (“Oh, you’re pregnant, you’ll just have to tough it out…” they said) that eventually ended not long ago with a frightening trip to the labor and delivery room where they gave me the medicines you’re not supposed to have when your pregnant because there was no alternative. I had bruised (or cracked, who knows) ribs, pleurisy, and was unable to breath. Not to mention a two month old cold that was keeping me from sleeping, talking, breathing. The pain that wracked my midsection kept me unable to talk or move without assistance as we shambled in, and later, a very drugged, very largely pregnant woman, shambled out, wondering how in the world her dog would ever get walked again. But even then, well after I’d given up my dreams of backpacking into my 8th month, I still had new health issues arise as my feet and legs and hands began swelling suddenly to 3 times their size and my blood pressure soared. Truly sealing the deal that not only would I not backpack, was the fact that I also would not be able to drive myself, be able to touch my feet, get in and out of bed without assistance, and definitely, definitely not walk the dog.

So yeah. That’s why it’s been quiet around here. If 2013 had been kinder to me health wise I would have kept plowing on through the Pinhoti (I only had about 20-30 miles to get to the GA line I think), exploring local trails, etc.

I do intend to come back, but for now I felt that on this first day of the year I needed to put a big placeholder here on the blog to explain why I’ve been so quiet and explain potential future quietness.

I do regret not using the down sick time to get caught up on all the back posts I needed to post from previous hikes, but just the idea of how to make time to write seemed impossible. I’m not sure what our new normal will look like, or how I’ll incorporate writing into our new schedule, but I believe I will. I believe I’ll be back writing on here sooner rather than later.

As for Whiskey- he’s been doing pretty good with his new routine. He spends a good portion of the day “surveying his kingdom” as well call it, from a slight, barely noticeable rise in the backyard where he can watch the chickens and see most of the yard on both sides and into the back woods. Brandon’s been trying to teach him to turn off light switches, though I’d prefer he teach W how to pick up things off the floor for me! And he has a variety of visitors to dote on him recently.

I’m afraid our walks went from daily, to every other day, to every three, to once a week, to….the last time I took him walking was Thanksgiving, when we visited one of our very favorite places Blue Ridge, Georgia, which was the last time for several weeks that I was able to sleep laying down.

Dogs are truly amazing. He’s adapted. I’ve promised him life will slowly work back into routines of walking weekly, that he’ll get more attention in the arena of physical activity (He gets a LOT of attention, just not the physical exercise outside of the house kind).

People ask us all the time if he has acted any different since I became pregnant. I really don’t think so. From day one he’s pretty much been the same. He’s even laid his head on my belly while Baby R moved around and I know he could feel it, heck, he could probably hear it! But he didn’t move at all. Even when I was intense pain and crying and totally freaking out before we went to Labor and Delivery in the middle of the night he seemed mildly curious, but it didn’t seem to ruffle any feathers, er fur. He barely noticed us at all. Well, that’s standard Whiskey I guess.

But I don’t want you to think our lack of blogging or confession of not walking in the last month means a neglected dog. He’s had a full social schedule. He’s done a number of traveling bloggy type things….

He got to do a lot of walking on the local Rails to Trails.

He got to do a lot of walking on the local Rails to Trails up until November.

He got to see some snow in 2013.

He got to see some snow in 2013.

Whiskey spent most of the year convincing our feral cat that they were friends. After 3 years- it finally worked.

Whiskey spent most of the year convincing our feral cat that they were friends. After nearly 3 years- it finally worked.

We spent a lot of time teaching Whiskey not to chase or eat the chickens. It worked. He is now allowed unlimited unsupervised time in their presence and does great with them.

We spent a lot of time teaching Whiskey not to chase or eat the chickens. It worked. He is now allowed unlimited unsupervised time in their presence and does great with them.

He got to go to the River a few times and spent time adding to his "what can I collect in my fur" collection.

He got to go to the River a few times and spent time adding to his “what can I collect in my fur” collection.

He went into some buildings he probably wasn't allowed to go in on our trip to Cheaha ;)

He went into some buildings he probably wasn’t allowed to go in on our trip to Cheaha 😉

He went to Blue Ridge GA where his tail learned to match the clouds...

He went to Blue Ridge GA where his tail learned to match the clouds…

In Blue Ridge we also found this awesome sign.

In Blue Ridge we also found this awesome sign.

He featured prominently in the displays at our baby shower. Because if you know us, really know us, you know we would have *Had* him there if we could.

He featured prominently in the displays at our baby shower. Because if you know us, really know us, you know we would have *Had* him there if we could.

The banner of ribbons at our baby shower had pictures of our lives in the last 7+ years. Several of them, which you can't quite make out from here, were of us with Whiskey. We incorporate him into as much of our life as we can. We couldn't have had pictures of our shower without our first "child"!!

The banner of ribbons at our baby shower had pictures of our lives in the last 7+ years pinned throughout the ribbons. Several of them are from our outdoor travels and of Whiskey. We incorporate him into as much of our life as we can. We couldn’t have had pictures at shower without our first “child” or without showing our love of the outdoors.

Then because we love it, we took him back to Blue Ridge at Thanksgiving. Lucky dog!!

Then because we love it, we took him back to Blue Ridge at Thanksgiving. Lucky dog!!

He went to Fort Morgan where it was very wet, but he loved it.

He went to Fort Morgan where it was very wet, but he loved it.

He loved it so much this was how he was every time we loaded him up at the beach!

He loved it so much this was how he was every time we loaded him up at the beach!

He had the privilege of being the one who got to introduce the FB world of friends and family that we were expecting- that he would be a big brother come January.

He had the privilege of being the one who got to introduce the FB world of friends and family that we were expecting- that he would be a big brother come January.

Any day now, quite literally, a new little man will be entering the Robertson household. Since he managed to stay inside through 2013, this means we’ll be a household of 3 Horses if you follow the Chinese Calendar. Should be fun! I don’t know what the shape of our lives will be in 2014. But as for 2013 I can say that we are thankful beyond measure- for each other, for time with family, for friends who take care of one another, for dogs who forgive you for not walking them for a month, for all of it. I promise an obligatory “Baby R Arrives!” post once he does. From our growing household to yours, we wish you the best trails, the most trail magic, and lots of dog fun in 2014.

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Darling Companion

Darling Companion

A dog lover’s movie review.

darling companion

Not a movie for everyone, but a lovely easy going flick that flows like a short story, that definitely is for anyone who has ever rescued a dog. Also for anyone whoever arrived home with an animal and was met with “You’re not going to keep “that!” are you?” at the door from someone they loved. Also for anyone who has found themselves realizing they love their pet more than they love the imperfect humans around them. This movie reminds us that “love is love” regardless of whether you give it to your dog, your cat, or a human being. Love is a powerful force and is not any less powerful based on the size of the recipient.

I am certain there is more than one family where one spouse has said to the other one “You love that dog more than me!” and could not fathom the other person’s reasons or emotions. This movie will, if not help the confused spouse understand the other, will help the accused feel better about their unwavering commitment and attachment to their pet. If only we all loved our dogs as much the main character Beth, does. If we all had that much love and devotion for all living things, the world would be a better place indeed.

2012- pg 13 rating. Stars: Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, and Kasey (the Dog- a real rescue!)
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A (somewhat) wordless Wednesday- Pictures of Section 3 Pinhoti

I can’t go wordless. If you know me, you know this to be as true as the sun…

But I’ll try to go mostly or somewhat wordless.  All pictures are from day 1 of woods hike of Pinhoti. Roughly section 3, specifically from FS 603A to White Gap (? maybe….).

Here goes…. ::holds breath…jumps into the unknown::

I took tons of pictures of this tree… I didn’t know if it needed a pair of glasses, or a bra! Either way, unusual humanoid features in nature amuse me to no end…

I loved all the gentle slopes and clear woods we saw... it encourages you to just throw down your pack and wander.

I loved all the gentle slopes and clear woods we saw… it encourages you to just throw down your pack and wander.

This copse is very strange… it doesn’t show in the picture well but they all seemed to grow along the ground several feet before shooting up left or right. There were several groups like this on top of the mountain (off trail) where we camped. It felt very magical… like if you walked through the middle it might take you somewhere else…

I liked to call these L trees… but it would be better named a U tree I suppose… I saw several of these too. Pic taken from our campsite off trail.

The size of the mushrooms never failed to amaze me. I wish I could identify edible ones!

Despite how far away geographically we are from Cheaha, there are rock formations all along this beginning part of the Pinhoti that liken back to Cheaha’s rock thick woods… ❤ it.

These flowers were huge!! No idea what they are… Suggestions?

The Pinhoti makes use sometimes of existing roads, or at least crosses them (a lot) throughout Alabama. Here we passed by a tower and travel along the road for a ways. At the time we hiked Pinhoti Section 3 there was nothing available on the internet to tell us what we were passing where. The only directions were the old “road walk” directions. So I have no idea where we were or what this was. Still… interesting. Apparently I may have to do this same sort of “blind faith- trust the blazes” hiking up in GA as I hear they’ve recently completed “some” more woods trails but there is nothing online about its path. I say “some” because even the article I read didn’t say how long the new section was… Could be a mile, could be several… who knows!

It was so hot and muggy my camera kept fogging on the lens... I like the result though... even though it's a "woods walk" you do cross over several roads. I think this was a power line maintenance road.. But honestly I don't know...

It was so hot and muggy my camera kept fogging on the lens… I like the result though… even though it’s a “woods walk” you do cross over several roads. I think this was a power line maintenance road.. But honestly I don’t know…

If you want to see more but don’t mind wading through an onslaught of words you can visit these other posts on my Pinhoti trips…
Pinhoti Section 1
Pinhoti Section 2
Pinhoti Reflections
Also, the Skyway Motorway runs very close, over, and by the Pinhoti for much of its way. Several places you can leave water drops, help thirsty hikers (as we did) or just get out and enjoy the Pinhoti from various spots.

Happy Hiking!

PS. This would be a good section to take your dog on. I didn’t take mine because I was on for over a week and was unsure of the terrain, as well as Whiskey not being able to handle long week long hikes like this. But if I go back for a quick section hike I’d say- bring the dog, pack lots of water, camp on Rebecca Mountain and do it as an overnighter 🙂

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Pinhoti Backpacking, section 3

As promised ::coughcough.months.ago.cough:: the first day backpacking write up is here 🙂

I always love taking a before picture. The last time those clothes (and me!) saw water for a loooong time. Hiking is dirty business. Brooke (l) and Gina (r).

Trailhead FS 603A of section 3 (first woods walk) to Bulls Gap 9-8-12

The trailhead as of Sept 2012 did not have a sign board or anything major from the road to indicate where to park. If you follow the directions listed on the PTA website you’ll get to it fine. There is enough room to park maybe two cars- do not block the gate. Also, the forest service looked like it was working on expanding the road or at least making it better the last time I was in there so it probably looks completely different now, 8 months later (the shame… I am so sorry I’m not more prompt). You walk down this road and will quickly see the blue blazes that signify the Pinhoti on your left. Saturday Pinhoti 2012-09-08 003 You will walk a gentle up and down as you approach Rebecca Mountain. This trail is the newest section and in the best shape of any I walked until Cheaha. It was well cut (we met the maintainers who were weed eating as we walked up!) and well marked. You should have no problem. If I had it to do over again I would have stopped at Rebecca Mountain and camped just because it was so danged pretty.

THERE IS NO WATER IN THIS SECTION! so make sure you have a water drop at Bulls Gap if you’re doing more than a one nighter and pack enough in. I carry 3 liters and ended up having a good method of having a gallon stashed as a water drop at the end of each section which is conveniently 3 liters. That way even if I ran dry before getting to the next trail head I knew I had a full supply waiting. I know a lot of people who might think 3 liters is excessive but I keep my pack at 30lbs (including food and water) and so I’m able to do this. I also have a system I like. I carry a tall Smart Water bottle in my side pocket then have a 2 liter camelbak bag in my bag. I use the bag while hiking and use the bottle once at camp. This helped me manage my water and not over drink or cook complicated stuff that needed more water when I was running low. Everybody has their own system. This just worked for me.

the flat beautiful top of Rebecca Mt where Brooke in the lead saw a fox and other critters...

the flat beautiful top of Rebecca Mt where Brooke in the lead saw a fox and other critters…

My filter was almost unnecessary what with the drops. My filter would have been better served at home. But I did filter water 3 times in the approximately 69 miles I backpacked on this trip; once at a forest road on my way up to Rebecca Mountain (it was shortly off trail and we were tipped off by the trail workers where to look, so my threat of no water isn’t true if you know where to look for that one stream), once at Scott’s Lake from a stream past the brownest lake I’ve ever seen, and once short of Blue Mountain shelter from a stream that barely had enough to filter out of. But I didn’t need to. I was almost full on water, I just decided, what the hey- might as well use the danged thing since I’m packing it around.

Pinhoti Sept 8 2012

We had some rain at times, making it muggy, but pretty looking…

So on our first night, we camped on a ridge to our right after not being able to go a step further. It was about 4:30 which is my usual “time to look for a place to camp” time anyway. I have a thing too- about not camping right by roads. So I’m not sure how far past the intersection we passed we were, but this sort of thinking did hinder my mileage a lot. Often it’s not a long hike between trailheads on the Pinhoti, or when it is, there are TONS of forest service and national forest roads cut through that have dirt bikes, four wheelers, off road vehicles, hunters, partying kids (er..or in two cases, partying middle aged men…), etc, roaming about on them. So only once did I have to camp too close to a road for my comfort. As a single woman hiking alone I feel the general best practice for me is to camp no closer than a mile from a road (if I know it’s there). That can be a little tricky because there were sections where I was thinking “where the hell am I going to camp!?” because of the terrain. In fact on my first night I threw down my bag and hightailed it up the side of the mountain to find a wide enough flat spot to camp. We found it. It turned out to have markings on the trees that indicated it was actually part of the old Pinhoti. How old? No clue. Why was it relocated from this awesome sunrise??  I’ve no clue. Property rights?

Celebration Sunrise! Pinhoti wake up call....

Celebration Sunrise! Pinhoti wake up call….

This is the view I woke up to once the sun rose a bit higher. AMAZING!!!

This is the view I woke up to once the sun rose a bit higher. AMAZING!!!

We were close to a road but since we were off trail and in a way- stealth camping, since you couldn’t see us from the trail at all- I felt safe. I wonder how I would have felt the first day at the end of the day if I hadn’t had Brooke to babysit me. She camped nearby and just the knowledge that another person was there was comforting. It isn’t easy doing this as a girl alone. There aren’t a lot of us. Every time I talk in public to strangers about camping or hiking like this I get the same response from perfectly capable, strong, women. “You do this ALONE!?” They are flabbergasted. I’d like to point out- Whiskey wasn’t on this trip. When I attended October BOW IN 2011 (visit Alabama’s BOW event page for more) women kept circling around me asking about how I did it, wasn’t I scared? Did I carry a gun? Etc. I answered all the questions and encouraged them to PLEASE get out there in the woods and do for themselves. Don’t feel like you have to have someone with you to do what you love. Just go do it! I often have more offers of people to go with me than I can handle (At least on my day hikes. No one wants in on the 9-dayers lol! ) On the short hikes I usually don’t tell anyone because I’ve come to love going alone. I tell women, if you get out there and start telling your friends what you’re doing you’ll have a waiting list to go hiking with you a mile long. And there are so many varieties of hikes to do that you can find something for everyone.

But wait I am sooo distracted! Back to the current hike.

So where we stayed was perfect, an old road bed it looked like, just wide enough for our tents and with a great view of all the stars you could imagine as well as the most spectacular sunrise on the Pinhoti I witnessed for the entire trip. If you can find this spot, then I say, camp there!

Our home for the night. It appeared to be on an old road bed, but you can see the old trail in the middle too...

Our home for the night. It appeared to be on an old road bed, but you can see the old trail in the middle too…

Here’s a really frustrating thing, that is all my fault- I do not know the name of the junction right before we camped which would help people find where we camped… and camp there themselves. I think it was White….something… Maybe White Gap.. There was a sign carved in the wood style you see on the Pinhoti on this section. I thought I took a picture of it, but was mistaken. I also texted my husband with the name of it and asked him how far we were from Bull Gap. He couldn’t find it notated on any of the maps we had or websites. Of course I deleted my text to him with the name of it… doh! Bad hiker/blogger! No desert for you! Anyway, if you see a sign saying White something or another right at an intersection of a bunch of dirt roads, keep walking for about a half mile to under a mile and you’ll find a ridge to your upper right that has the “old” trail on it.

Cons to the first day: Guns! We heard TONS of guns down the hill, sounding very close to our campsite. Try not to let it bother you. I read over and over that all over the Pinhoti you will hear constant gunshot. This was definitely true (more true perhaps I should say) of the first two days of hiking. Much of the gunfire came at sunrise… really? Wow.. those people need to sleep in! I will say the rest of the Pinhoti hasn’t offered nearly as much gunfire as those first two days. But I have heard gunfire on almost every day on the Pinhoti, but come on… I live in Alabama. I hear gunfire almost every day of my life anyway lol!

2nd Con: Lack of water (we already covered this so I’ll spare you a rehash).

Very Big Feathers! Brooke sports one for a bit.. I think we ended up loosing them all.. I found several over the course of the week.

Very Big Feathers! Brooke sports one for a bit.. I think we ended up losing them all.. I found several over the course of the week.

One great Pro of the first day of trail hiking: The incredibly devoted group of trail maintainers making sure that the path on the 3rd section (and the first section of actual woods trail) was well maintained. Rebecca Mountain is a very pretty place. I’d love to go back for an in and out overnighter.  There were also TONS of feathers to pick up on the trail for this section and for about the next 3 days.. I was blown away by the size of the feathers!

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Whiskeys Top 5 Toys

Whiskey’s Top Five Toys

We got to try a lot of great new products in the last year or so and some of them were flops in our household but some of them went down in Whiskey enthusiasm legend. Here’s a round up of our favorite dog items.

(In no order of luuuuv):

  1. Zigoo Pets Crinket Toy. This toy is made from flexible and durable (and how!) material that you (painfully and s l o w l y) shove a water bottle in and the dog will go nuts (well, ours did) trying to eat. Our “I can destroy anything” dog has certainly ripped about his fair share of toys but this one gets 5 paws up for complete indestructibleness. It might be able to be destroyed by your dog though! So beware. But ours, who granted, has gotten less bitey with toys recently, didn’t make a dent in it.

    Amid the discarded island of forgotten toys, Whiskey chooses the Crinket.

    Amid the island of discarded & forgotten toys, Whiskey chooses the Crinket.

  2. Bionic Bone. They have several products but we purchased the bone one. Find them at their site and blog.Wow. Oh wow does our dog love this. He won’t even touch his kong any more. I think it’s because it’s designed to fit into his mouth and shape to his tongue as well as be held easily by his front paws. He loves the command he has over this fillable toy. However, we got a size or two too small for Whiskey’s “size chart” for the bones. This was by chance, and not design. I *wish* he had a larger one because I know it would fit in his paws even better (he likes to hold it when getting at the treats). He doesn’t seem to mind that it’s a tad small though. The Bionic people talk about freezing things in it but when I asked for suggestions on what you could freeze for a dog in it they kinda gave an answer on their fb page like “um, you know, stuff… like peanut butter.” Thanks guys! I never would have thought of that myself! You’re geniuses! Okay, maybe they kinda are since they have a product that’s so fantastic, but I’d love if their site or staff had more ideas about what to put in it for us first time dog owners! I haven’t checked their site too recently so maybe they’ve added this. Check it out and let us know! Or give us your “to freeze” tips 🙂
  3. Fruitables. Made of 100% natural organic ingredients how can you go wrong? You can’t. Our dog is still bonkers about these tiny chewable fruit treats. They smell fabulous (for a dog food I think) too which doesn’t hurt my willingness to buy another bag when this one runs out. We tried the Skini Minis Pumpkin and Mango flavored chewys.
  4. Acadia Antlers. I don’t know if I have words for how fantastic this chew is. It’s a bone…(are you sitting down for this?) on a rope. On a Rope! These guys are geniuses. Not only can my dog chew and tug on the rope but he can gnaw on that fantastic antler. Apparently, Moose antlers are all the rage with Whiskey’s taste buds. They have all different sizes. Whiskey ended up chewing his in half and we had to throw it away so that’s the only flaw with the hole through the rack bit. However, he also had an antler sized too small for him (again, it’s what came in the “large sized” dog box for BarkBox. I intend to order him some bigger ones asap.) Regardless of it’s ultimate demise he did get a lot of chew time out of it! And a bigger one will mean even more chew time. Go Acadia Antlers!
  5. Simply Fido. OMG. Whiskey got this amazing plush, beautifully crafted (seriously, any baby would adore this toy) reindeer. The neat thing about it is how its legs and arms slip back and forth through its body. Somehow this adds a cool level to the toy. For the first two weeks Whiskey wasn’t seen without this toy in his mouth or under his head as a wee pillow. It was amazingly cute, and it held up to his antics. He mostly grew out of tearing stuffed toys limb from limb but he still often rips them when playing tug of war (one of his favorite things). This one has survived unscathed for an entire 3 months except for an eaten tag on its bum. That’s okay Whiskey, I didn’t need to know how to wash it anyway 😉

    We'd often ease into a room only to find half of the reindeer under Whiskey's head. He found the toy to make an excellent pillow....

    We’d often ease into a room only to find half of the reindeer under Whiskey’s head. He found the toy to make an excellent pillow….

Honorable Mention (just because of the peculiarity and excitement of finding it): Puppy Cake. We got a red velvet Puppy Cake! It’s totally safe for the dog! I can bake him (and me?) a red velvet cake! I can’t do this right now due to dietary restrictions but as soon as I’m free to eat anything I want again I’m baking my boy a cake! (I’ll let you know how it turns out!!)

Whiskey’s Medium Rated Toys (but we’re holding out hope) of the last year:

  1. Lollycadoodle’s wool toys. We were highly disappointed in the ripability and easily eaten-ness of the first toy we got from them. It was a circle made of wool and he Loved it. However, his love translated to Whiskey delighting in ripping out small chunks of green and trying to swallow them. More times than not they would get caught on his tongue and he’d be half hacking, half licking trying to either get it out or swallow it (I’ve no idea which) and all around making choking gagging noises.  You’d think this alone would land it on our “worst” list but it didn’t because we got a second toy from them (a plush Mr. Mouse). It has held up now for over a week until Whiskey decided to tear an ear off (normal for him). He hasn’t eaten bits of it. He hasn’t choked on it. It’s holding up way better than the first one. In fact, if we had recieved the Mouse first it would have been on our *best* list. We recommend Lollycadoodle for light chewers or nondestructive dogs (those do exist …. right?) or dogs who will be highly monitored with the right type of Lollycadoodle toy.

Worst of of the past year:

I’m sharing it not to bash it, but because for some of your dogs- they might win an award! But our dog could not have cared less for this toy. Notice we only had one on the list? We’ve had several new products in our house over the last year and almost all of them were received with dog glee. However, this one, was a complete dud for us. But every dog has a different style of playing. So check them out and see what you think!

  1. Our attempts to get Whiskey to hold (or play with) the toy...failed miserably. This is as close as we got.

    Our attempts to get Whiskey to hold (or play with) the toy…failed miserably. This is as close as we got.

    Moody Pet’s HuMunga Stache fetch toy. Whiskey could not be enticed by any means to pick this toy up once we got it. He slowly came around where he wanted you not to touch it- so if you tried to play with him with it, he’d take it from you and carry it off to another room to leave it and then come back to you. He played with it so little that we actually forgot about it until several months later I saw that he was gnawing on it and had started to make lots of indentations on it with his teeth. I mean, he was doing some rapid damage! So I had to remove it. I think it’s meant to be pretty tough, but it wasn’t, not for our power chewer. If you have a power chewer do NOT leave him alone with this toy. Still I have to admit it’s a super cute idea! If you can get your dog to hold it right I want pictures!

By the way, we weren’t given these toys. We bought them.

How would we know where to find such magnificent things? Simply put- We didn’t.

We purchased a Bark Box subscription when they were running a groupon deal (best thing ever) and we truly like the Bark Box. I don’t know how long we’ll do it, but for right now it’s perfect for us. I figured I made at least the amount of the Bark Box cost in random spur of the moment purchase for Whiskey when shopping for his food at pet stores. This kept me from buying random impulse buys and we just wait for the box. Sometimes they are grand. Sometimes they are not. Overall the toys/treats are too small for him so if you truly have a *large* dog beware. They do not have an extra large box (they need to though!). But for now we’re happy and I’d definitely highly recommend it to anyone with the disposable income to buy their box. If anyone has questions about Bark Box I’d be happy to answer them.

Here’s to another year of fantastic dog toys and human things to buy and play with! Happy Trails to you all!

Gina & Whiskeydoodle

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