Friday–March 5, 2021
A cold night at Choccolocco Shelter. Huddled back in the corner in my 30-degree down Zpacks quilt on my Therm-a-Rest Neoair mattress, I slept very well.
The sun is up and the day bright as I finally get out and going–a little before seven. A short climb and I’m into the Dugger Mountain Wilderness. Climbing still, with more side-slabbing thrown in, along the trail, evident is the unbelievable and widespread destruction from Hurricane Zeta. Countless huge centuries-old hardwood and pine have been completely uprooted and are scattered in an impenetrable jumble everywhere. Sawyers have been in recently, their skillful work clearing the trail is truly a blessing. Had I gotten here before this gauntlet was cleared, little doubt I’d have been injured trying to get through. But the trail is clear; what amazing good fortune for this old man. To the skillful crew, whoever you may be, you have my utmost appreciation and gratitude!
Mid morning the trail drops to Turkey Gap–and Cranford Rock. Well, I know a Cranford! This must be Rick’s Rock. Hey, you rock Rick! Along the ridge and down from Red Mountain the sideslab continues, with views down and across to Piedmont offered all along.
Just before summiting Dugger I meet the only other hiker along the trail today, Matt from Piedmont. He’s out getting in shape for his planned upcoming Appalachian Trail trek. Hiked with him awhile. Looks like you’re ready Matt–all the best to you!
The Guthook Guide shows a loop trail that passes over the summit of Dugger, but it is neither marked nor maintained. I take the bushwhack anyway to find the only thing remaining on top is the tank and seat from the old outhouse that was used by the firetower ranger. The tower is long gone, the entire place totally overgrown.
Off Dugger, it’s a three-mile cruise down to CR-500, and the shuttle by Rick back to his home for the night.
A grand and glorious day in the wilderness…
One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.