This past weekend, a friend and I headed up to the Cohutta Mountains in Northwest Georgia to hike the Cohutta Mountain Loop. It was absolutely gorgeous out there. We parked at the Three Forks Trailhead and headed out on the East Cowpen trail. My friend had a running watch to measure our distance traveled as well as elevation changes throughout the trip. We started at an elevation of 3,200 ft. and began to descend into the Cohutta Wilderness.
What we didn't know when we started off on the trail was the lack of water that would be available on the trail we took. I had read some reviews of the area and some stories from the specific loop we were planning on doing and all the pictures were of people down by a river. What I didn't realize was that the first time we'd see a river on the trail we took in would be when we got to the Jacks River after hiking just under 8 miles and dropping 2,000 ft. in elevation.
We had some water but I drink a lot and when we got down to the river after those 8 miles, I drank 4 bottles of water immediately and then another 4 when I got to camp. We used the Sawyer Mini for water filtration. It is definitely one of the best purchases I've ever made, it's ultra portable and cleans the water effectively.
We then had to wade our way through the stream a couple of times to get to an open area to make camp. Slipping my feet into the cold water stream water after a good day of hiking was one of the more refreshing feelings I've had. The area we found was right on the river bank, just far enough back to have dry, solid ground but still right on the river. We set up the camp, started a fire, and ate dinner. It was so peaceful out there. The sound of the river lulled me to sleep, well that is until 5 mins after closing my eyes when nature called. All that water I guzzled to get rehydrated was ready to be set free. I must have woken up 4-5 times that night.
The next morning, we packed up camp and headed down to see the Jack's River Falls. The hike down to the Falls was great. As we weaved our way around the river down we started to hear the thundering sound of a waterfall. The falls were beautiful, we just stopped and stared at them for awhile, neither of us wanting to move on. We pushed further to try and get different views of the natural beauty that was before us. After having our fill, who am I kidding I could still be there staring at them, we headed out on the trail back toward our car. We were at an elevation of 1,200 ft. now and were dreading the climb back.
The trail back was definitely painful, 2,000 ft. increase in 8 miles. We would boo out loud whenever the trail dropped in elevation for more than a few steps knowing that we would have to climb it again. The most frustrating thing was not the elevation increases, but that we thought there would be water on this trail. We quickly realized we were wrong and we would need to conserve water as we watched the trail we were on and the river part ways. We did stop for lunch at an area that clearly fed into the river, however, it had been dried up to mostly mud at this time of year.
If I was to do another hike in this area, which I would definitely not be opposed to, I would take the Jack's River Trail the whole way. The lack of water on the trail we took was definitely a detriment to us staying an extra night out there. If we were take a trail that stayed on or close to the river the whole way we definitely would have stayed longer. Oh well, you live and you learn right? All in all we descended 2,000 ft. and ascended that same amount, as well as hiking a total of 20 miles. Definitely not a bad way to spend a Memorial Day weekend.
We stayed in Atlanta Sunday night so we would be fresh driving home the next day. That post backpacking shower is one of the best things that this life has to offer. After getting cleaned up, we went out for dinner at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur. Their beer selection was exactly what was needed after hiking 20 miles in 2 days. I don't know if it was the best beer I've ever had but it definitely tasted like it.
Remember, Adventure is Calling!
May 26th, 2015