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Trailheads Battle Pollen & Attack The Hooch, Then Retreat To DAS BBQ For Provisions.

Updated: Apr 5

Springtime in Atlanta is not for the faint of lungs. The vegetation here wakes from its winter sleep with a vengeance, spitting pollen like an angry, venomous snake. The air is thick with the stuff, and those pitiful people with allergies fall fast, clutching for Kleenex and retreating with hacks and wheezes of despair.

A thin blanket of Mother Nature’s love dust covers the city, giving everything an ominous yellow cast.  There is more pollen than oxygen in the air. Nature is harsh. But nature can’t stop Trailheads from our appointed rounds.


Followers of our zany escapades may have noticed there was no dispatch last week. The weather was perfect, so what happened? Curious readers probably suspected we finally took a hike too far and were eaten by bears or fell off the end of the Earth (we are part of the global flat Earthers movement––there are true believers edge-to-edge).

But no, it was nothing that dramatic. Trail Master was out of town, and we called off the hike because of busyness, or maybe it was laziness, whatever--why split hairs? We still managed to meet for a barbecue lunch, so we demonstrated our dedication to eating.


For our hike this week, we were down two of our loyal troops. Roy was suffering from a nasty disease. He went to his medical professional and said, “Doctor, doctor, give me the news, I’ve got a bad case of lovin’ you.”

The physician took some tests and said, “No, Roy. You have a bad case of the flu.”

 “Oh,” Roy said. “Hey, Doc, sorry about the lovin’ you thing. Guess I overreacted with a case of Robert Palmer-itis.”

“No worries,” the medic said. “I hear that all the time. It’s going around.”

Roy was bedridden, struggling to sleep as his body spewed copious amounts of disgusting fluids he didn’t even know he had––not a pretty sight. However, he kept sending us long missives describing his disgusting hacking, coughing, sneezing, and aching experience so we could feel better about not having it. We did.


George didn’t hike this week because he was busy working––book writing, film producing, and whatnot––all this work stuff is also not a pretty sight to us lazy slugs. But we are proud of his passion for his art.


And so, on this cool April morning, Trailheads Guy, Steve, Brad, Patrick, and the canine crew of Fio & Elvis assembled at West Palisades Trail. The last time we hiked here was in August 2022 (read about that adventure here). Back then, it was rumored nudists would be swimming the Hooch that morning, but we didn’t see anyone––naked or clothed––in the water.

Were we supposed to strip and dip? We didn’t dare do that for fear of frightening woodland creatures or causing trees to fall.


This morning, Guy flagrantly showed off the “shoe-tying” skills he had recently learned by watching YouTube videos. Patrick has been taking MasterClasses with Francis Florsheim on how to tie shoes, but he has yet to crack the code. Roy wished he was hiking because his Mother taught him poorly, and the shoelaces constantly come loose.


We carefully descended the steep hill toward the Chattahoochee River, watching our steps since there were exposed roots and rocks lying in wait, anxious to trip a Trailhead into a tumble. Many of us were wearing our Hike The Hooch gear (available here), with ALL profits going to Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy and their many good works. Get some Hooch gear and hike like you mean it.


All Trailheads were armed with their iPhones at the ready, so we could capture every precious moment of our hikes. We hope to have some good snapshots when one of us falls off a cliff trying to get a dramatic shot or a goofy selfie.


The sky was as blue as a depressed blue jay singing the blues about Picasso’s Blue Period (we really need to work a bit harder on our metaphors), and the Hooch was as high as... uh, well, let’s just say It was moving like it meant business. We snapped some group selfies for good measure. A picture-perfect day deserves perfect pictures.


There was a sign by the river with a killer headline: “Don’t die here.” That grabs your attention. This headline was obviously not screened by a focus group. "That sounds so negative and frightening,” someone might say. "Couldn't the headline just say: ‘You can continue living if you take the proper precautions!’"). Can you tell some of the ex-adguys are a little bitter?

The message on the poster was simple: many people jump into the Hooch, and the cold water can shock them, unseen rocks and debris can harm them, and they could drown. That's not a great way to start your day. We heeded the warning, although a few of us were stripping for a quick plunge.

Guy was stripping because he was recalling the early days of streaking back in college. We reminded him that he left his streaking body at school when he graduated.


We discussed some shows we’ve been watching. Steve and Patrick finished “The New Look” on Apple TV+ and loved it. The series is the incredible story of Christian Dior and Coco Channel during the occupation of France in WW II. Haute couture and Nazis make strange bedfellows, but the show is informative, engaging, and entertaining. For trivia hounds, what famous designer designed the Nazi uniforms?


Trailheads also highly recommend “The Gentleman” on Netflix. Guy Ritchie combines organized crime with the English aristocracy, and they go together like peanut butter and chocolate. It’s tasty and fun.

We walked along the river as the path narrowed. When we came to its end, we looked up the steep hill, and there it was, our nemesis–– CHIGGER HOLLER! This was the site of the infamous hike where Trail Master Guy led his bandmates and a guest into an area infested with ravenous chiggers (read about that tragedy here). Patrick was fortunately absent on that hike (or was he behind the ambush, as many conspiracy theorists speculate?).


The hikers on that mournful day suffered 120 distinct chigger bites. An extra shift of workers was added to manufacture Benadryl. Roy designed a commemorative t-shirt for the occasion, and while there have been requests for a Chigger Holler re-enactment, no one has bitten yet—at least, no human.


We fled the battle site. Brad and Patrick struck a model pose they said could be for a Trailheads Calendar—it would be like a sexy fireman calendar, but without all the sex appeal. Our calendar would be worthless since it would have 19 days in January—43 days in February, seven days in March, we’d forget about September, and––well, you get the drift. We’re idiots.


Our bellies told our feet it was time to get them fed, so we hiked our way up the hill. Along the way, we encountered a friendly man named Matt walking Bennie, who could pass for Fio’s kin. We let the dogs get to know each other as we humans sniffed bodies and talked. Matt lives nearby and hikes this trail a lot.

He asked us which Hooch trails were our favorites, and we told him East Palisades, Island Ford, and Jones Bridge. As we talked, we heard the West Palisades Trail sob quietly beneath our feet and decided we’d better get moving before it bounced us.


When we returned to the parking lot, Guy saw a small carved log chair for a photo op. He commanded Fio to sit on it, and she did. We gathered for a selfie, and a pleasant man cleaning up litter from the area offered to take our picture. We talked to him and learned that he is a volunteer.

We told him about Trailheads and our mission “on the path to truth and barbecue” and directed him to this website to learn more and snatch some cool Hooch gear. This kind, friendly chap was further proof hikers and trail lovers are the nicest people in the world.


Off we motored to DAS BBQ on Collier Rd. We last visited this joint in early January (read about it here) and met owner Steve Franklin, and we told him we missed the Sauce Udders. He said he also missed them, but some customers thought they weren’t sanitary. We were outraged at this nanny state mentality and vowed to do social media ads to get support from Sauce Udder fans worldwide and bring the magnificent dispensers back.


We excitedly put together a “Bring Back The Udders” campaign, sent it Steve’s way, and waited to hear from him. But all we heard were the sounds of silence. Did we take it personally? Yes. But we usually don't hold grudges for more than a hundred years or so, and we returned to his restaurant to eat. Apparently, Steve didn't want to encounter the powerful anti-udder lobby. He was absent. Udder bans must be sweeping the nation.

The place was not crowded, and we gave our orders at the counter. This is a nice restaurant. The space is open and comfortable, and outside are tall tables for eating your vittles and letting your animals catch table scraps.

DAS BBQ people are friendly and helpful. That makes for a pleasant atmosphere. Now, let's get to the main event. Let’s talk food.

Guy, Brad, and Steve ordered pulled pork sandwiches. The meat was tasty and tender, with a nice smokey flavor, but the bun seemed smaller than usual––could that be possible? We wondered. Was it an optical delusion? Whatever their size, we wish the buns were toasted. Trailheads believe toasting buns adds a more solid foundation for saucing.

And we are big fans of all the delicious DAS BBQ sauces. Take your pick of whatever flavor sounds good. Mix them, match them, and go crazy. There are no wrong choices, only discoveries yet to be made.

Patrick ordered some smoked wings. These babies were mighty fine; he says they are in the metro area's top tier of smoked wings—crispy and flavorful—even before saucing. He shared them with his friends, who nodded in approval as they picked the bones clean.

Guy bought an order of sausage and pimento cheese for the table. Patrick and Steve never heard of pimento cheese growing up in the Midwest, but the stuff is very popular in the South. The sliced link and pimento cheese disappeared fast.

You can make yourself an Arnold Palmer at DAS BBQ. Mix freshly made iced tea with Minute Maid lemonade on the fountain tap. While Minute Maid is not as good as homemade lemonade (uh-oh, here come the Coca-Cola Co. lawyers), it will do in a pinch.

A couple of us had the brisket chili. It was good, with an excellent flavor, but heavy on the beans. We prefer Texas-style brisket chili with no beans. Aren’t we the picky ones? You can’t go wrong with DAS BBQ brisket, though, no matter how you get it.

The slaw was a good ending to a cabbage’s rough life and a quasi-healthy repose from a smoked meat feast.

The collard greens were also very good. The greens are authentic but lack pork bits for some extra flavor and pizazz.

But the side dish superstar is DAS Corn. Good golly, this stuff is the bomb. The signature creamy and cheesy concoction packs a nice jalapeno wallop. It may be our favorite barbecue side of all time. Don’t miss corny treat.

We finished up, cleared our table, and Brad began onboarding Elvis into his Fisker. He has a unique metal stairway. Elvis seemed reluctant to climb the contraption; we think he’d prefer an escalator, but he eventually got on board.

Off we went, into the pollen-laced winds, dreaming of the glorious day when the Sauce Udders make their mighty return to DAS BBQ. Steve Franklin, call us. We’re ready to launch the social media campaign to Bring Back The Udders. We're ready to pull up our saucing stools.



Rating: Four Ribs*

DAS BBQ West Midtown

1203 Collier Rd NW

Atlanta, GA 30318


*About Our Barbecue Rating System

Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palates. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing out. Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy. Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four-ribs rating. The answer is easy: our group has acclaimed designers, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool. Who are we to argue? Enjoy.

  • barbecue

  • AtlantaBarbecue

  • bbqsauce

  • brisket

  • Brisket

  • ChattahoocheeChallenge

  • Chiggers

  • Elvis Loves Fio

  • hikingforfood

  • HikingGeorgia

  • hiking

  • North Georgia BBQ

  • Pierre de Coubertin Medal

  • Pulled Pork

  • quicksand

  • Ribs

  • Trailheads

  • Trailheads Approved

  • Whitesauce

  • TrailheadsHike

  • City BBQ

  • Summit Coffee

  • Okra

  • AJC

  • Olivia

  • Glacier National Park

  • Island Ford Trail

  • Pulitzer

  • Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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