North Chickamauga Trail – Stevenson Branch Campsite

My first “backpacking” trip. Also the first time I’ve camped in a tent. Ever. I’ve done day hikes of 15+ miles, so a backpack trip going in under 4 miles should be a piece of cake with a backpack, right?

Wrong.


The trail was in bad condition in some segments. Leaves up to knees. On wet steep slopes. Trail marked horribly. And my pack weighed over 40lbs.

Did I mention I had double rotator cuff surgery in past 5 months?

I learned:

  • it’s not just the distance, it’s the elevation
  • every ounce (and pound) counts
  • it is very important to have a GOOD breakfast before starting steep switchbacks in the morning
  • it’s a lot better to bring a water filtration unit than 12 bottles of water

I brought printouts of map and written trail instructions which saved our group’s posterior on a few occasions. One of the fellow hikers kept saying we had “this much more” (1/4 inch gesture). 

We started at 10:30 and arrived at the campsite at 5pm. I didn’t take many pics or videos because I was gasping for air, begging for the campsite to be around the corner, and imagining my funeral. I kissed the ground when I arrived at the campsite. (Not kidding) 

The campsite was lovely. Gorgeous. Waterfall, stream meeting large creek, huge rock formation with interesting ‘artwork’.  After setting up my tent (with help), I enjoyed my first ‘bonding” campfire. No marshmallows were toasted. I was wondering if I was going to be able to move in the morning. 

Thanks to James of http://www.chattaventure.com, who gave me lots of hiking 101 insight and put up with my novice booty for the rest of the segment. THANKFULLY, it was well-maintained, but almost all uphill. I only wished I would die about ten times.

I would do the trail again in the spring, when it hadn’t rained for a few weeks, and I have my new Katadyn water filter with a pack that weighs less than 25lbs.

Here’s a link to the trail segment:

http://www.cumberlandtrail.org/north_chickamauga.html

This is only my track TO the campsite, didn’t track way out…

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