November 6

I neglected to report on the most unusual thing we saw on the trip.

Driving along the Alaska Highway (a.k.a. Alcan) in Yukon, pretty much in the middle of nowhere as you can get on a road in North America, we passed a fellow on a unicycle.

We are home.

Our trip took 120 days, plus 20 days on the ill-fated Michigan leg.

We covered a grand total of 18,693 miles (make that 19,000 if you add in the hiking miles).

We visited 32 states.

Thanks for going along for the ride.

First stop, last stop

November 4

New State:  South Carolina

Where's James?

Where’s James? (RT photo)

The eastern continental divide runs down Atlanta’s Peachtree Street.  The Chattahoochee River flows to the Gulf of Mexico, even though it is well east of the Appalachian Mountains that spill into Alabama. If you spit on Peachtree Street there’s a fifty-fifty chance your spittle will go to the Atlantic or the Gulf.

The Blue Ridge escarpment marks the eastern edge of the Appalachians, but any rain that falls on the mountains proper will run west.

The road from Atlanta to Charlotte, I-85, runs through the piedmont, just parallel to real mountains.  Looking off to the north, you can almost see the mountains; in Greenville, you actually can.  Just south of Charlotte you pass close to King’s and Crowder Mountains.  The road is consistently hilly, just enough to challenge your cruise control, or to keep you guessing whether those trucks are going to hold you up or run you down.

There’s been a lot of rain lately, so all the rivers and creeks we crossed along the way were near or over their banks.  And autumn is catching back up with us – the leaves are growing colorful, although they are draped in a gray mist.

There's a signpost up ahead ... (RT photo)

There’s a signpost up ahead … (RT photo)

When we reached Charlotte, we detoured north.  One more stop before finally reaching home:  Troutman.  It was our first stop on the way out, and it is our last stop on the way back, to visit Rebecca’s mother and family.

Our “hike” is up and down Troutman Farm Road.  Despite the “No Outlet” nature of the street, neighbors tend to whiz by, keeping walkers on their toes.  There’s also a state park, Lake Norman State Park, with a trail system along the lakeshore, but we assume it is too muddy right now.

The Troutman homestead is located just off Old Mountain Road, which runs along a ridgeline through farmland from Troutman to Hiddenite (Iredell to Alexander Counties, if you prefer).  Hiddenite is a rich source of gemstones, including emeralds.

Hiddenite sits at the edge of the Brushy Mountains.  The Brushies are not particularly tall, but they are significant:  They mark the true beginning of the Blue Ridge, which has retreated significantly over the ages (op cit).

The Brushies have a lot of exposed rock faces between Hiddenite and Wilkesboro, but alas no public lands or hiking trails (to my knowledge).  They are a good source for apples.


Kennesaw Mountain

November 1

New states:  Mississippi; Alabama; Georgia


Turns out the road home goes through home for both Rebecca and me.

We decided to drive to visit my father who lives at the foot of Kennesaw Mountain, a Civil War Battlefield Park in Marietta, Georgia.

ackyard view of one ofmthe new neighboring mansions.

ackyard view of one ofmthe new neighboring mansions.

Our route took us through Birmingham, Alabama, which is tucked into the lowest reaches of the Appalachian Mountains.  You might be surprised at how mountainous that region is.  The interstate highway just cuts through it, but one can imagine the backroads through the hills could be as steep and winding as those in the Ozarks.

We crossed the border into Georgia in time for our dashboard clock to be correct – for two days.  We’d left it on Eastern time through four time zones, but today it’s off by an hour anyway:  Today is the longest day of the year.

Growing up I did not spend a lot of time on Kennesaw Mountain, but we’ve made up for it since I’ve moved away.  We hike to Cheatham Hill or up the mountain more than once on every trip to town.

The best trail climbs Pigeon Hill, then ascends Little Kennesaw, drops to a saddle, then rises to the top of Kennesaw at 1800 feet, an elevation gain of 650 feet over two miles, not counting the extra hundred feet resulting from the saddle.  There are great views of the Atlanta skyline from several places on the mountains.

Visitors' Center

Visitors’ Center

There’s a new trail, the 24-battery trail, that starts close to my dad’s house that goes to the visitors’ center, aother four-mile round trip.  The 24 battery placements are the most interesting artifacts of the war in the park.

The Civil War was lost, or won, by the time Sherman reached Cobb County, but there was plenty of dying left to be done, along with the burning of the state.  The battle was especially ridiculous.  The Confederates were dug in in an unassailable position, but Sherman, with his superior forces, tried to take the mountain. Fought in heavy rain in June, 1864, the assault accomplished nothing more that convincing Sherman to go around the Confederates to get to Atlanta instead of through them.

When I was a kid on the other side of Atlanta, near Emory, Kennesaw Mountain was way out in the country.  We might have gone there once, before we moved to Marietta.  Now it’s just another suburb.  The park has become a major recreational destination.  The parking lots are always full, and the trails are crowded.


When I was in college, my family went on a trip in an RV to the Gaspe peninsula.  When we got back, my father got involved in a business venture, leasing a prime location on Highway 41, the major southbound artery into Atlanta, near Lake Alatoona.  He built an RV campground.  It was very nice, in the woods with hillside, private sites.

I was the first manager of Lakeside Campground, which wasn’t on the lake.  It was a depressing job, as there were never more than two or three campers in the campground on any night.

Battery atop Little Kennesaw

Battery atop Little Kennesaw