Mar. 5, 2017
Today was rough. It was eventful; it was mostly fun; but in the end: it was rough.
I got a fairly early start. It was either so misty that water was collecting and falling from the trees or drizzling ever so slightly all day. I couldn’t tell and it really makes no difference. I was expecting some possible rain today and a storm tomorrow so I came prepared. After parting ways with Slow Camp Mike, I hiked through a nice wide corridor of the trail. I stopped to rig my umbrella to my pack so I could use it hands-free. After walking for a couple of minutes, I realized I had forgotten to pick my walking stick back up. I then stopped to take a couple of pictures and left it again. So my early start was a little slower than expected.
I came to my first big water obstacle of the day and was given options on how to cross. Shall I: Cross straight through; cross on the log; cross over on the rocks past the log?
There was quite a lot to see on this stretch. A small spring that someone had made that reminded me of one from my childhood (only not so well maintained). There were old stone walls from long ago that make me curious as to what the people here did and what it might have looked like long ago. I could also see the creek growing quite wide and deep and flowing quite strongly at places. And then, of course, came time to cross it. This was probably the most dangerous crossing that I’ve had to do. The water was deep everywhere that I looked and the rocks were slick enough that I fell before even touching the water. Through sheer grit and gumption (and also using my monkey-like toes to grab the edges of the rock), I made it out whole.
But the day was far from over…
With that little adventure behind me, I carried on. I soon spied a baby Copperhead on the trail. The poor thing looked dead but it was just because it was so chilly out. (I once picked up a baby Copperhead, not realizing what it was. Luckily the little fella couldn’t pierce my skin.) The trees along here are kinda odd. Like it never got cold enough to drop their leaves so they’re just stuck in Autumn. I wonder if they’ll fall or rejuvenate come spring?
I then came to an area that recently had a prescribed burn so there wasn’t too much to see. There was a stump still smouldering. And after a ways, there was a pretty little waterfall. I decided to lunch at Lynn Hollow Creek and that was when I realized that my spoon wasn’t hanging on my backpack where I usually keep it. I really hoped that I had accidentally packed it into the bottom of my pack but I certainly wasn’t going to unpack or dig through to find it.
THIS, my readers, is what you get when you combine laziness with ingenuity. But on a very, very, low-budget.
Nature’s beauty was everywhere today. More waterfalls than I could keep track of. One even had a little shelter of rock built-in behind it! And green starting to appear everywhere. From the grass and the ivy, to the moss and the trees. Even the vines here are green! Much more jungle-like than the ones I usually see. Yes, today was quite beautiful but the thought of tomorrow’s storm was always on my mind. I decided that I would hike 15 miles today and just try not to push myself too much. Well, things don’t always go according to plan…
I was really enjoying myself, completely dry thanks to my umbrella. The path seemed to split the forest at one point. Broad-leaf trees on one side and evergreens on the other. I was spacing off when I passed by mile 67 so I wasn’t quite sure what to think a mile later when I, once again, passed mile marker 67. I soon came to a road and could see a building off just a ways and I remembered Slow Camp telling me about a well near here. Sure enough, a cabin and a well! I was really tempted to stay as the sky wasn’t clearing up but it was only 3:00 and I had only gone 10 miles. I checked my map, still confused about the double mile marker, and got back on the trail only to see this sign at the next road crossing. How are you going to name your place “The Sanctuary” and then tell everyone to stay away? I’m just upset because it got me curious and I wanted to see it…
Well, all of the sights and confusion had me thinking that my chosen campsite was near water after consulting the map so when I came across a site on top of a bluff at mile 59 (or is this 60?), I thought “surely my site is just down another mile.” Well, it was not. I came to a big bridge over a very big creek. The Little Mulberry Creek, actually. Much bigger than the Mulberry River crossing which was my first crossing of the trip. The trail kept on the road for a while before cutting in-between two private properties. You see some of the strangest things out in the middle of nowhere… The day went on and still no campsite. The sun began to set and I eventually had to don my headlamp. I was tempted to just stop at the next even ground I saw but I kept hiking on. After an extra 4 miles, I finally came to Lick Branch and camped at a site right next to a gravel parking lot. I was exhausted and feeling slightly defeated but I was also a little proud of all the miles. 19 today.
Oh, and I was informed last night that all of this area is an active bear zone so hanging food is definitely a good idea.