Day 8 - Benton MacKaye Trail

 

Today would have been the most miserable day ever if not for Red!  He slack packed us, which means he takes all our gear except for the packs, our lunches, and our water.  We did a quick and fast 19 miles into Reliance, Tn to our drop and next campsite.

 The dam at Ocoee River

The dam at Ocoee River

 

The trail today, however, was something else entirely!  This is honestly the most miserable hiking we have done to date.  Our hike began hot and humid from the Ocoee River and up Dry Pond Lead in the Little Frog Wilderness.  It wasn't a difficult climb, but the trail was extremely overgrown and by the time we reached the top we were both bloody and hot.  Sweaty legs itch when they're scratched so badly! 

 There was a 100-mile trail race coming through here in a few hours... Wild Trail is right! 

There was a 100-mile trail race coming through here in a few hours... Wild Trail is right! 

 

The next part of our day took us into Cherokee National Forest.  This area had a prescribed burn last year, which meant for six miles we had nothing but dead trees and thorns.  The sun came out and scorched us.  Just when we though it couldn't get much worse, we started walking on road beds, which  had thigh high grass and ragweed.  No tree cover and black widow nests every few feet added to our misery. When we reached the end of the road, we went back into the dead forest, losing our way several times before finally making it downhill to Lost Creek.  On the positive side, we hit our 100-mile mark today!

 A field we walked through on the old FS road walk. 

A field we walked through on the old FS road walk. 

 

It was an easy 4 miles from here into Reliance, a teeny town on the Hiawassee River and the lowest point on the BMT.  We made our way to the Reliance Fly and Tackle where our drop box waited and campsite was reserved.  The hospitality here is amazing and the campsite is inviting. Once again we got set up just before it started to rain.  We had cheeseburgers and beers at the store and a local woman gave us homemade blackberry cobbler.  This trail just keeps getting better.  What could have been a miserable day was made so much better by the kindness and hospitality of others.

 The view from our tent tonight! 

The view from our tent tonight!