It started out a very sunny and happy morning. Birds were singing and the green forest was glistening. The spider webs were also glistening... every 15 feet in the middle of the trail... at least I could see them. I packed up my tent and off I went whacking the webs with my spider stick. The farmer's field was beautiful with the morning mist and mountains in the background. After hiking on a single track dirt trail for a few miles, the Trace turned onto a beautiful grassy forest service road. I hiked across interstate 64 and onto a gravel forest service road. I was honestly glad to see the gravel because I was tired of hiking in grass and getting my feet so wet. The wildflowers were abundant on this part of the trail. I loved seeing the swallow tail butterflies flutter from flower to flower. This part of the trail was my favorite over the two days I've spent on the Trace so far. I plodded along and stopped on the side of the road around 11am to let my shoes dry out a bit and I ate some lunch. I saw some more turtles on the gravel road. The trail continued to go through the forest and back on gravel road and back into the forest and back on the gravel road. I didn't like going back into the forest because of the spider webs. But I'm glad I did because I saw a timber rattlesnake. I almost stepped on it. It was halfway on the trail and I believe its tail was buried in the leaves. Its head was distinctly in the shape of an arrow, so I'm sure of its species. As I made my way to the ridge tops that overlook Morehead around 1pm, I finally got a good vista..... unfortunately I could see the dark storm clouds coming my way. The trail continued on a single track and had some cool rock features. I hiked past the Eagle Lake and started to feel a bit sick. I must not have had enough water. I stopped at the university and had a seat outside. The rain and thunder came on quite all of a sudden. With one mile to go on the road back to my car, I decided I had had enough. I called Paula, the trail angel shuttle driver, and asked her if she had time to come drive me back to my car. As soon as I texted her, she was on her way. 15 minutes later, I was back at my car in Morehead. I headed over to Arby's to get some nourishment and felt better fairly quickly.
Even though I skipped out on the last 1 mile, I still made a huge accomplishment. I am surprised I did not get discouraged or frustrated at all the thunderstorms. I really am hoping all my future sections will have better weather than this one!
Paula, a trail angel and volunteer of the Sheltowee Trace Association, drove me to the northern terminus of the 323-mile Sheltowee Trace National Recreation trail today. I was really excited to be hiking south. Every step takes me further from Ohio and closer to Big South Fork, Tennessee. It started off raining.
I think my shoes were waterlogged within the first 15 minutes of the day. The trail was green and the green was wet. Some parts were puddle. Then it started to thunder a little. There was no more singing after that. It continued to rain and thunder every now and then all day as a made my way along the forest trail. I finally made it to Dry Fork Road, 10 miles in, and Clark's Park at 3pm. The sun had made an appearance and I took off my socks and shoes to dry. About 45 minutes later, I could see dark clouds rolling in and I packed up. I should have just went back and unpacked because Clark's Park would have been an optimal camping site for this evening. Right as I went through the red gate, winds picked up, the sky darkened and the clouds began to get noisy. (Why oh why didn't I go back) 2 miles to Holly Fork- that was my goal. I fast walked the 2 miles in loud thunder, close lightning, and seriously deep puddles on the trail. I made it to the campsite and managed to set up my tent in the rain. Everything was at least slightly damp. At the end of the day I was bone dry in my sleeping bag and slept through the night. I saw 4 turtles.
I originally planned to thru hike the 323-mile trail in 2018 after I left my job to move to Colorado. That move has been put on hold and I don't have the ability to take off work for a whole month. I have now set a goal to section hike the whole trail before the end of the year. Every 4 weeks, I have 4 days off in a row and I plan on using those to backpack parts of the trail.
I have a 4-day weekend July 20th through July 23rd. The forecast looks absolutely terrible- storms with "some of them severe" all 4 days. While I originally wanted to backpack 47 miles from the northern terminus to Clear Creek Lake, I think I'm going to just do one night. 24 miles from the northern terminus to Morehead. I am all for hiking in the rain, but I'm not experienced hiking in storms. Still, I want to know what its like. I'm about to set out for my first backpacking adventure in thunderstorms.
Preparing for a 1-nighter is something I've done hundreds of times so it didn't take me very long to pack. I definitely didn't want to carry a stove this time. There is a great chance I'll be trying to cook in the pouring rain anyway. I got an awesome new poncho that I'll probably be wearing the whole time. I got a gently (never) used SPOT 1st generation off of a flea market page. I think this device gives the solo hiker some peace of mind and is well worth the monthly fee. I am also bringing my waterproof pouch I use for kayaking. My phone still works through the plastic.
With food and 3.5 liters of water, my pack weighed in at 27lbs.
Sheltowee Trace Trail
This trail is 323 miles long running from Morehead, KY to Oneida, TN. This blog is about my journey section-hiking the entire length of the trail. Some trips are a part of the Sheltowee Trace Hiker Challenge. This is a group trip offered by the Sheltowee Trace Association. Once a month I go and hike a different 2-day section of the trail with a big group of backpackers. After doing this for 11 months straight, I will have completed the whole trail within a year.