Gene Chong, aka Jenka, aka Mr. Calves, had an epic adventure in mind. A 29 mile hike on the very last stretch of the Foothills Trail. I couldn’t pass up on the offer so I got all my gear and we took off to Oconee State Park Friday afternoon with him. First of all, let me tell you a little about Jenka. This guy is willing to try anything at least once. Rock climbing, camping, epic hiking marathons through the forest… I like that about hime. All you have to do is invite him and he will show up. Not only will he show up, he will always bring fantastic food. There have been many great stories among my friends in regards to the stuff he shows up with. This time was no different. Awesome burgers and smores.
That friday was spent confirming our start location followed by hanging out at the campground in Oconee State Park.
I forgot the spatula but that was OK, the Kukri Blade worked just fine.
That night was a rough one for me. First of all my headlamp broke. Granted it was the same one from years ago that I used on the A.T. and it was only a matter of time. Luckily I had a spare. Then when we went to bed, my air pad deflated. It developed a hole in one of the creases and died on me just as I was dozing off. It was also the same air pad I used on the A.T. It’s as if all my gear is giving up on me and straight up quiting. Gene said he heard it go flat in his tent next door. I’m sure that put a smile on his face when he went to sleep. That night was also extremely hot. I was laying in my boxers sweating while rocks dug into my back. Gene reported the same heat issue.
Anyways, we woke up around 2 am, packed up our gear and ate on the drive there. We were on the trail at 4 am. The weather was cool and perfect for hiking. Only one issue came up, giant spider webs that stretched across the trail. They were everywhere!
I messed up on the pics because the leaves are blocking the giant spider sitting there on its web. But you get the idea.
I got voluntold to lead the way and clear us a path. It sucked! They were easy enough to see at night when the headlight reflected off the web but once dawn arrived, the spider webs were very hard to notice.
The initial designated spider assault stick.
There was a funny moment when I was walking in front with the stick in my hand to clear out the spider webs. We were walking fast when all the sudden I came across a spider web with the spider directly in front of my face! I was walking fast enough to where I couldn’t stop in time and ended up doing a variation of the matrix move to stop from running into it.
If there had been a Limbo Competition at the moment, I would have won gold. Jenka was right behind me and thought I was falling backwards so he did what any friend would do. He grabbed me by my shoulders and starting pushing me up and forward!!! I was pushing back with my heels against him but he was so strong! I ended up yelling something non coherent and by some miracle he stopped pushing with the spider literally 1 inch in front of my nose! Jenka almost killed me.
We ended up upgrading the stick to one with a larger area of effect.
The first 20 miles were manageable. We were telling each other stories, laughing and having a great time. However, the last 9 miles were brutal. Chaffing, slightly swollen feet, and pain from the waist down. It was mainly our fast pace. We ended up finishing at 3 pm with an average pace of 2.6 mph with very few short stops along the way. The feeling of our accomplishment was hard to describe. There is something special when you suffer and persevere with your friend next to you. It made it that much more awesome when a thunderstorm hit us after we got into the car. It would have sucked being in rain on top of it all.
We ended up driving back and stopping at Farmhouse Tacos in Travelers Rest. The food was amazing, especially since we were really hungry. Then we drove to Michael’s home, a friend of Gene. We showered up at his place and played board games late into the night with Michael and his brother. That was one awesome weekend!