Janusz and Dorata Zak
Remember From Ice Age to Flamingos? In 2006 Janusz and Dorata came through western Michigan and it was my pleasure to spend an afternoon with them. At that point they had completed fewer than 1000 miles of their trek from the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin to Florida. The plan was to do a section each summer, but many such plans become lost in the business of life. So how's their trek going?
In April, 2006 I started hiking (with my backpack) on a long distance trail from Wisconsin to Florida. The trip was meant to be about one year long journey. Being a music teacher I've realized quickly that it would be hard for me to get back to my studio after such a long break. The new version of the trip was that it will be completed in 4 summers worth of travel. The estimated length of the "Ice Age To Flamingo" project is about 4400 miles. This year brought me to about 2750 miles so I think I will need another two summers to complete this hiking project. Below is the statistical summary.
Year 2006 1200 miles on Ice Age and North Country Trails. The states are Wisconsin and Michigan.
Year 2007 900 miles on North Country, Buckeye and biking trails. The states are Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.
Year 2008 670 miles on Allegheny Mountain and Appalachian trails.
The states, West Virginia, Virginia, Tenessee and North Carolina.
Total approximately 2800 miles or 4480 kilometers.
a looming storm on the Allegheny Trail
The Allegheny Trail should not to be confused with the other Allegheny Trail which runs from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania east toward Washington, DC and it is generaly a biking trail. There is another biking trail called Allegheny Highlands Trail somewhere in the middle of the state of West Virginia. The trail we've followed is sometimes refered to as Allegheny Mountain Trail.
Starting as a roadwalk, passing through the state parks with a sizable waterfall, the trail changed character as we've entered Monongahela National Forest. The trail has become a "real" forest trail. Sometimes overgrown with ferns, with the blazes so faint and far apart that it was a challenge to navigate here.
The trail in the mountains has quite wilderness appeal. We have spotted two bears, many deer, and have met cute salamanders snakes hundreds of butterflies. Allegheny Trail, which we followed at first, is no match to the famous brother (or sister) to the south, namely the Appalachian Trail. It is not as well traveled as the AT nor it is so well maintained. There are some stretches of the trail where the yellow blazes are faint or nonexistent. There are some stretches where, because of blowdowns, the trail is hard to follow at all. Probably because of that we have met only a few hikers on this trail.
Here on the mountain we have been tested by four sizable storms with heavy downpours and scary lightning strikes. According to my brother Chris, the whole mountain was shaking from the thunder. Fortunate again we were able to rich the shelter before the worst weather. The next morning my boots caught on fire when I tried to dry them too vigorously.
On Iron Mountain segment we've met Joshua. He was carrying a mandolin on which he could play some nice folk and rock tunes. It was my pleasure to tune the mandolin to standard 440 A, but he preferred higher pitch. We've hiked together for few days until city of Hampton, TN. He and his brother gave us the ride to the town so we could resupply and eat fresh food, yummy.
Next year hike will probably begin at the 20 mile Ranger Station on what is now Benton McKaye Trail or BMT. Following closely the ridge of Appalachian Mountains and the Tennessee North Carolina border into Cohuta Wilderness in Georgia where it will connect to the Pinhoti Trail. On Pinhoti into Alabama and on the road (highway 77) to the West Point Reservoir area on the Chattahoochee River. I am still not certain how to get through Alabama to Florida Trail. There are several options, but neither of them seems to be safe. I will probably float Chattahoochee until it reaches Apalachicola National Forest to the conjunction with the Florida Trail. Some additional research has to be done. Until next year.
See all the text and photos at Janushhiker's Web Page
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