Following the unmistakable yellow-coated blazes that had been painted on tree trunks, power line poles, and galvanized bridge guardrails, I commenced what has affectionately become known as the Alabama Roadwalk, or even more informally, the “Alabama Trail.” Naturally, the color yellow was employed since it signifies “yellow-blazing” (i.e., hiking on roadways), so-called because highways are painted with yellow parallel lines. The approximately 220-mile roadwalk consists mostly of dusty backcountry roads used by rifle-carrying hunters. Small-talking with the outdoorsy hunting folks can be especially interesting and their down-home accents are as thick as ever. Provided the nimrods are not hunting with a Remington in one hand and a flask of moonshine in the other, a thru-hiker’s safety is in no way compromised! All kidding aside, backwoods folk tend to be some of the friendliest people one could encounter. There are also paved rural highways punctuated with cow farms, steepled Baptist churches, and cemeteries. Auto routes and thoroughfares link the Florida Trail Blackwater terminus to Flagg Mountain, which is the southern terminus of the well-established Pinhoti Trail. There were some conventional footpaths on the Alabama Roadwalk including the Coosa Trail; however, the section is called a roadwalk for a reason—roads and more roads! After time, roads can actually be quite pleasurable to walk on despite what one may initially think. Pavement, gravel, clay, and tire-hardened sand are the surfaces upon which the hiker treads for over a week straight through the heart of Dixie.
Having slept on the Alabama state line the night before, the first day on the Alabama Roadwalk would prove to be my most productive day on trail to date, walking 40.8 miles from the Blackwater kiosk to the Alabamian town of Andalusia. Tank and I were separated at this point due to my “hareish” excitement to crush miles in a new state; however, he met up with me the following morning at my hotel in Andalusia. I had booked a room at the Best Western to recuperate from the tiring walk. After consuming three feet of Subway submarines, taking two muscle-relaxing steam showers, deep-sleeping for ten hours, and participating in four continental breakfasts, I was ready to resume my northbound Alabama Roadwalk!