Canaan Back Country, A War Inside My Head


The Start

It was Thursday night, my dad had asked me if I would help him split some wood Friday morning. Of course I agreed. Knowing I would be getting to the trail head a little later than expected I packed all my gear that evening. It would be ready to go as soon as I was ready. After helping my dad with the wood Friday morning I headed home for a quick shower, grabbed my gear and off I went. I arrived at the trail head of Fire Trail No. 3 along the Canaan Loop road around 3:15 pm. It was a beautiful day, sunny & warm with a light breeze. The weather outlook was for a chance of thunderstorms and winds, I have backpacked in rain, wind, and storms before. I actually enjoy it sometimes as the trails are mostly empty at these times.

Fire Trail 3

 

 

As I hike along enjoying all the scenery I’m thinking about my pace and where I’m going to make camp tonight. I know not to far off is the first shelter along the way at the intersection of the Allegheny (Davis Trail) & Plantation Trail. My goal was to make it past that shelter & make camp somewhere between it and the second shelter along the Railroad Grade Trail.

Reaching First Shelter

I had a pretty good pace from the start of my trip to this point. It was still early so I decided to visit the shelter & take a short break. While at the shelter I had a drink, ate a Cliff Bar, and relaxed a little. While here I might as well check cell coverage. I take my phone with me on most trips, if nothing else to read or listen to an audio book, or an emergency if coverage is available. Luckily I had a bit of coverage at this spot, and I say lucky because I could get an update on weather. As I check the radar I see a very large blob of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds heading directly toward the area. As its updating I hear the severe weather alert sound, its strong thunderstorms, high winds, and the chance of hail and tornado’s. Good Lord!

Shelter along the Plantation & Allegheny Trail. Also known as Davis Trail.
Front of shelter

Making a Decision

After checking the weather, its time for some thinking. My thought process. More times than not, the weather is unpredictable and ends up not being as bad as they predict in my area. I have three options and plenty of time left to do one of the three.

  1. Hike up the Allegheny Trail, hit Canaan Loop road and hump it back to the vehicle. This would be a shortcut from the direction I just came.
  2. Continue my hike as planned finding a suitable spot to make camp between the two shelters making sure I pick a safe spot just in case.
  3. Make camp in the shelter for the night, wait it out until morning.
I really didn’t want to end my trip in just half a day, but I also didn’t want to get trapped in the middle of something bad. Being that I have some common sense and somewhat of a risk taker at times I chose option three. This would be a happy medium point for me. So I decided to set up camp in the shelter for the night. I had plenty of time so I hee hawed around a bit checking out the area, made me some dinner on the wood stove and relaxed a little. At this point, 7:00 pm, the weather was still beautiful with the winds picking up slightly.
Warbonnet Black Bird deployed and ready.

War Inside my Head.

I had an argument in my head last night. Between 9 & 10, cautious side said, I think we should get outta here. Adventure side said what? You scared, we are in a shelter for cryin out loud. Cautious side, Ok, head hung low. Argument continued throughout the night off & on, something like, I told you so, ah shut up, we are safe. 3AM, Cautious wakes up adventure, see, you heard that tree crack & fall also. Yeah. Argue some more. Wake up this morning bright & early. Cautious side, see the wind is still blowing really hard, Adventure side, yeah so, we can make it all the way out and back to the shelter again before night fall. Cautious, yeah, but what if a tree, or limb falls down on your dumb self. Adventure side, yeah, that would hurt, possibly no adventure in future. Cautious side, so, you ready to beat feet. Adventure side, yeah, head hung low.

I got very little sleep at all on this night. The rain, lightning, thunder, and most of all, the wind kept me up most of the night. It blew hard, very hard, and almost none stop. On the trip out I took the Allegheny Trail up to the Canaan Loop Road heading back to my vehicle. Along the way I saw the tree I heard snap that night. It was a large pine with a trunk of approximately 18″ in diameter. It was very odd in that it looked as if you sawed it straight across but left jagged edges sticking up. It just snapped straight across, and was a green tree, so rotten it was not. The rain and wind continued the entire trip out. I was never so happy to see my vehicle after cutting a trip off short.

Reflecting on my trip in the safety of home.

This was quite an experience for me. I have never been in the piney woods with a storm of that strength. I am satisfied however with my decision making during the trip. So glade I didn’t continue on out the trail, but somewhat reluctant to think I should have hiked on out the day before. I ended up safe, and that’s what counts.

I’m glad Cautious side won this time. Sometimes adventure side doesn’t use his head entirely.

B.C.

A happy hiker I am

Plantation & Allegheny Trail Intersection

Access to shelter

Looking out the shelter

Canaan Loop Road. The road back to my vehicle.

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