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The group met near the Wellness Center at the break of dawn to start their 22-mile journey. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL

Hikers challenge themselves on 22-mile day hike around Big Canoe

BY WAYNE TIDWELL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The hikers stopped briefly at Falls Creek in the Dawson Forest. Recent rains made some parts of the hike even more challenging. PHOTO BY GORDON LITTLEY

Four Big Canoe hikers took on a challenging adventure, walking 22 miles, essentially circumventing Big Canoe’s south and east side, in less than 10 hours.

Joe Derajtys, John Jones, Bill Hovis, Gordon Littley and Gordon’s dog Bristol met at the Wellness Center and set out at first light on Saturday morning, March 16.

From the Big Canoe Wellness Center, they hiked up to Monument Road (an elevation rise of more than 1260 feet), along Monument Road a little way and then down through the Dawson Forest back into Big Canoe, stopping for lunch at Derajtys’ home on White Astor Lane. 

After lunch they dropped Bristol off and headed down Wildcat Trails through the Meadows and then “bushwhacked” (hiked their way through woods where there are no trails) a bit to Steve Tate Highway, up Potts Mountain and down through the Blackwell Creek trails, finishing near The Clubhouse at Lake Sconti around 5 p.m. where they sipped well-earned beers.

The first half of the hike was about 13 miles and the second was almost nine miles. The second half of the hike involved a fair amount of bushwhacking according to Derajtys.

The weather cooperated on a rare cool Saturday with no rain.

“The weather saved us,” Jones said. “Staying cool is important.”

But the bad news is that they encountered ticks.

“You can officially report that the ticks are out,” Hovis warned.

Recent heavy rains made some areas on the trail even more challenging.

“In several places we had to take off our shoes and socks,” Jones said. “At one place the water went up to our knees.”

“We had water shoes on for about three miles,” Derajtys said. “In the Dawson Forest you cross Falls Creek three times.”

Fortunately, the hike ended near the oasis of the Big Canoe clubhouse.

“On the last five miles all we thought about was beer,” Jones said.

Bristol did well, leading the way most of the hike according to Derajtys.

“Bristol did fine, Littley said. “She has done 13 miles before.”

As a group and individually, the four had done training hikes in preparation for the Saturday hike with outings of 10-13 miles.

Along the way Saturday, deep in the woods, they encountered deer stands, a hiker and his dog both wearing orange vests, and…golf balls?

“We are walking through the woods and you don’t know where you are exactly and you find a golf ball,” Hovis said. “And there is no course nearby.”

Asked about their next adventure Derajtys said, after the Saturday hike, “We may consider doing the west side of Big Canoe, depending on how we feel tomorrow. That could be in 2020.”

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The end of the 10-hour hike mercifully ended at the Big Canoe clubhouse where well-earned beers were poured. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL

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