Friday, August 28, 2015

Farewell Benton MacKaye, hello Pinhoti Trail

"Florida or Bust" - Days 7 and 8

This report could have several headlines.

Headline One (the one I actually chose) concerns my final day of hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail, as I reached the junction with the Northern Terminus of the Pinhoti Trail.  Here's the whole sign, since it didn't all fit in my selfie:

The BMT blaze is a white diamond.  In one place a maintainer's chainsaw mark has been embellished with paint.

It's a distinctive mark, so on my last day I picked up a little quartz pebble with the diamond shape.  It will be my souvenir of a wonderful week of hiking.  The fallen leaf is a small reminder that autumn is not far away.  It's been cool in the mountains already, and color change is beginning.

The Benton MacKaye Trail is a sister trail to the Appalachian Trail, but far less traveled, and so a much more quiet, natural experience.  I'll remember it all my days.  Maybe I'll come back and hike the rest of it some day - in small pieces during the summer, the way I'm finishing the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Headline Two:  My walk over Flat Top Mountain - the only mountain I know with a beautiful old oak tree at its very summit.  The photo says everything else on that subject.

And Headline Three:  More mushroom discoveries, as the recent rains continue to send fungi into reproductive frenzy.  Here's some mushroom art - looking down at a flat-topped cap of a species I've not identified:

Here's a wider view of another individual of the same species:

I found a couple of giant puff balls.  Cut them in slices and sauté them in butter and you've got a meal.

And here's an irresistible shot of the 'Mutt and Jeff' of the mushroom world - the tall and the small growing side-by-side:

Finally another odd variety that I haven't identified.  Species with hollow centers use rancid scent to attract bugs - they come in and collect spores the way flowers attract pollinators.

Now it's on to the Pinhoti Trail on which I'm headed west toward Dalton, GA.  At Dalton the hike will go into a planned 'hold' while I visit family and take care of some business, and then Southwest into Alabama.

Here's a map of my trek over Flat Top and on to the start of the Pinhoti.

BMT - Bushy Head Gap to Pinhoti Trail at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find trail maps for California and beyond

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