Teton Pre-hike: Benton-MacKaye Trail Adventure

Nov 8, 2014

Training for the Teton Crest Trail backpacking trip continued with an overnight trip to a new section of trail for Troop 7 participants. In the tradition it has become, we met early Saturday morning donning gloves, hats and fleece and departed Watkinsville for the McDonalds in Dahlonega. After a breakfast of everything from sausage biscuits to McFlurries (yes McFlurries for breakfast) we made our way to the parking lot just below Springer Mountain, the southern most terminus of the Appalachian Trial. Once food, crew gear, and directions had been handed out, the Troop 7 crew made its way up to the top of Springer Mountain for a wonderful view and pictures. Then, back down the mountain. Only this time, we turned off onto a different trail, the Benton MacKaye. Named for the man who inspired the Appalachian Trail, this trail eventually makes it way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of course, we were only to do about 5 miles of the trail and then turn back onto the AT for a total of 9 miles round trip.

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The trail was a good one, offering several wonderful views of the mountains, some nice rhododendrons, and several creek crossings. Plus, it was mostly downhill for about 5 miles until we stopped for lunch at nice place called Three Forks. With spirits high, hunger staved, and water refilled from the chilly river we headed back up to our overnight spot at Stover Creek Shelter. Up, because that’s what the rest of the hike would be, up! On this part of the trip, we learned that when someone says “Who would build a fire in the middle of the trail”? the first thing you should do is STOP. Most likely, you’re not on the trail anymore. This is what happened to our crew. Luckily, after a short retracing of our steps, we found the white blazes again and continued on to the shelter. After about 1.5 miles, everyone was happy to be at our stopping place for the evening. Well, except for the husband and wife couple that was already present when we arrived. Hopefully we could change their mind about our presence.

The late afternoon was spent putting up tents, playing cards, gathering firewood, and a few iterations of “Joseph, when can we eat dinner “? Then, it the category of you never know, the following happened:

Two nice looking young women and dog came wondering through the campsite. Made their way around and eventually ended up at the shelter.

“I have a strange questions” said the visitors.

“Well, we might have a strange answer for you” current shelter residents

“I heard there were some Boy Scouts at this camp, and we are having trouble getting our fire started, do you think someone could help us”?

I promise, that’s just the way it happened. And then, the campsite was empty. Thanks to our Scouts and to the newly appointed chaperones David H. and Jaime S. for helping our Scouts demonstrate “doing a good turn daily”.

After that it was dinner and campfire. Stephen P. led the group in the campfire ceremony that included jokes, an interactive story, a Scoutmasters minute and the “roses, thorns, and buds” thoughts from each Scout. It just so happened that the previously mentioned Shelter residents participated in our campfire and the husband even joined in with his own “roses, thorns, and bud” explaining his delight that our Scouts were venturing out into God’s creation and turned out to be quite good campsite companions.

After campfire, everyone headed off to their tents where chilly, but not too cold temperatures, helped everyone get a good nights sleep even though the moon’s brightness tricked several people into thinking that someone had turned the lights on! Up early and on the trail by 7, the 1.5 mile trip back to the cars was only slightly uphill and proceeded with great anticipation of breakfast at Danny’s.

I think I have figured out why Springer Mountain is not visited often on these trips, there is just no short way to get from there to Danny’s (about 1 hour). But Danny’s provided the great breakfast experience we have come to enjoy. And guess what, our Shelter friends showed up for breakfast too! I guess we made quite the impression on them!

Robert P.


Tom W., Robert P., David H., Jaime S., Elizabeth K., Atticus L., Tanner W., Joseph H., Stephen P., Matthew A., Conar J., Jackson S., Pierce S.

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