The Hip Doctor & my Physical Therapist suggested I stick to more ‘flat’ hiking. I was in the mood to hike by a river and didn’t want to spend the weekend at a State Park (crowded).
I decided on Ocmulgee Flats Camp in the Oconee National Forest near Monticello, Ga. goo.gl/JnaTx goo.gl/S9QUU It’s on a gravel road that was easy enough for me to navigate in my non-4wd.
Pros: It’s free. Camping area is rather large. Cons: No water. No vault toilets. Lots of ticks. And it’s primarily for horse-camping – so there can be ‘horsey odors’. (There was very little poop around the camp area but overall they do a good job of cleaning it up.) Disclaimer: as a kid, I had horses, so the hay/horse smells didn’t bother me – but come summer heat and flies – you couldn’t get me to step foot there.
I arrived on Friday of Easter weekend. I figured it’d be packed. One other group there, who weren’t horse folks. I set up tent on the far edge, so I’d be out of the way of the horse people. (On Saturday afternoon, there were at least a dozen horse trailers. About 6 stayed overnight,)
Immediately after setting up my tent, went for a hike. And immediately had a new critter encounter! A herd of very young feral pigs. I was worried these were wild boars I’ve been warned about. They were all in a single-file line. They stared at me. I took a couple of pictures and then they turned around and went in the opposite direction.
I headed on to hike opposite of the main camp area. It was rather uneventful and somewhat ‘un-remote” – I could hear cars rushing by and the trail was peppered with large power lines and AT&T cable markers. These pics were more than flattering of the area,and it had a lot of ‘boggy’ areas that were ripe for skeeters if there had been a good rain.But I did encounter a number of paw prints & what appeared to be bear poop (scat).
Had an awesome campfire that evening (gotta do some hunting for wood – there’s plenty but not directly at the camp). The site is maybe a mile from a major road & train tracks, so it was not quiet at night (earplugs help).
I got up early Saturday for another day of hiking. The trail info I found was limited – one mentioned 3 miles of trails. I was hoping I could find more than that. And that I did. Had water, my lunch, sunscreen & bugspray, heading out to explore.
The MAIN trail is fairly well-marked. It mostly follows the Ocmulgee River. But you’re on a bluff, so you can’t exactly head down to the river easily. In fact, there were very few views of the actual river but the trail throughout the forest was lovely in most areas. It was a lot of the same views though.Most of the trail was in good condition despite being a horse trail. (Yes, one must dodge horse poop from time to time, but it is more related to sections of the trail being very muddy & torn up.)
I eventually found a way to crawl down to a tiny sandy section to enjoy my lunch and watched some people canoe lazily down the river. I noticed a paw print or 2 and crawled back up to the trail.There were a slew of spur trails – and I just took them when they looked interesting or the current section seemed uneventful. I crossed a number of Jeep Trails, or open areas that I am guessing were from other Forest Service Roads.
I enountered a few people on horses along the way – all were friendly. All commented that they never see hikers on the trail. I didn’t get the vibe at all that hikers were unwelcome. Many of them said they come there every weekend to ride. One told me to have someone show me where “The General’s Grave” is – allegedly a Revolutionary War General was buried down there… I discovered the many riders on horse trails tend to talk a lot on the trail. Some were quite loud.
About 4pm, I was getting low on water and decided it was time to make my way back to camp. Had I stayed on the Bluff Trail, I would have encountered a sandy beach where a lot of people swim & bring their horses to cool off. (They said it’s quite the party place and lots of trash).
I encountered a baby snake on the trail that was so still I thought it was dead. I touched it and its tongue started going. A few more pics and it went on its way.I saw a smaller group of feral pigs. And feathers from some unfortunate bird (shell casing nearby).
I chatted with several of the locals who camp with their horses in modified camper/horse trailers. I asked them about the General’s Grave. Showed them the satellite map of my hike. It turns out I was right there (but apparently you have to ‘know’ where to look) Apparently, this is the general vicinity of the grave:
Some other random views:The hike was okay. For a river trail, I like more access to the river. Remember, NO water there at the campsite and it’s at least a mile to the river. And it was a couple of miles along river before I found access to the river – so bring plenty.
And ticks. I pulled 11 off me on Sunday night. And I found several more on Tuesday.
Here’s the (partial) map of the trail: lost signal in part… http://goo.gl/SszuF