13 map miles
13.12 recorded miles
Last night was terrifying! There were loud, high speed winds and I could hear trees and branches falling all around me. I didn’t know what else I could do besides stay put and take my chances. It didn’t look like any of the trees nearby were dead. I didn’t get good quality sleep but somehow got packed up in a light sleet and trudged on. Today was cold and miserable overall. My feet were wet and it was still fairly windy. My heavy pack was really discouraging me. It just felt like it was getting heavier and heavier. I had a stream crossing that I needed to either take my socks and shoes off altogether or put my frozen boots on. I ate lunch while contemplating what to do. Well putting those boots on was worse than I even expected. It was like wrapping ice around my feet! I hauled my pack over the crossing and my feet warmed up after a mile or two. They really warmed up on the climb up to the John Muir Overlook. The views were expansive. Definitely a highlight of the trip. I just wish I hadn’t been so grey. Thinking about the sub-30 degree temps forecasted, and listening to my aching back, I planned to get off the Sheltowee and take a short cut back to the trailhead where my car was. The shortcut was nice. This time, an actual easy shortcut. Flat trail and road and definitely easy to follow. I ended up back at the car and was excited to turn the heat on! This Sheltowee section kicked my ass for sure! I’ve got to get a lighter pack and train for bigger mileage days! The Hiker Challenge is going to be a challenge for sure!😓
11 map miles
13.11 recorded miles
Well today was interesting for sure. It felt like forever before I made it to Bandy Creek. I woke up too late so I made it there at lunch time. At least I got a sprite from the vending machine to go with my buffalo chicken sandwich. I got my permit and hiked back to the Trace. The next few miles were strenuous because of the mud due to horses. I even saw 2 horses go by and one was super skittish of me. I made it to the intersection of Laurel Branch Trail and decided to use Laurel Branch Trail as a short cut to my campsite back on the Sheltowee at Station Camp. Well this was the interesting part. The map said taking this trail would save 3 miles but what it didn’t say is how strenuous and overgrown it would be. There were major creek crossings. I crossed in my Gortex boots and my feet still got soaked and waterlogged. I lost the trail for about 20 minutes and the trail was rocky and ridden with downed trees. It was very hilly and I wish I had just taken the Sheltowee because it wasn’t worth saving 3 miles for. And actually, it ended up only saving 2 miles according to my gps tracker. The trail was pretty at some points, but it is still winter so the trees in this area were gray and barren. I filtered some water in the creek and made it to a nice campsite a few minutes later. I have 24 miles to go so I’m right at the halfway point. Let’s hope my boots dry some when it drops down to 34 degrees tonight! 😂
I’ve been trying to complete the whole trail this year, but I’ve lost some time and haven’t been able to do sections. I was eager to hike Big South Fork, so I planned a 4-day trip on the Trace down there. I’m playing a little leap frog, so the whole trail will not be done in order. For this section, I’ll be hiking northbound.
11.5 map miles
12.28 recorded miles
Today was gorgeous! I lucked out with the weather and didn’t even get sick on the 1.5 hour shuttle ride! Steve shuttled me from Peter’s Mountain trailhead to the Honey Creek Trailhead. I’ve got about 48 map miles planned for this 4-day getaway. Steve is such a nice guy and I can’t thank him enough for taking the time out of his day to do this long-distance shuttle. He gave me a thorough and complete rundown of the entire section. Like every water crossing and every trail crossing kind of thorough. I have been really excited for this trip because Big South Fork is super scenic and I have 4 days off!!
So Steve took my picture and off I went with the 25-30lb pack that was stuffed with cold gear and rain gear- a heavy combination. The trail wound through the bare trees and orange forest floor. I passed maybe the biggest rock shelter I’ve ever seen. It had a beautiful orange and red ceiling. There were quite some scrambles and one even required army style crawling! I forget my trekking poles and dearly missed them. I’m glad my boots are waterproof because I got them soaked with mud. My feet stayed perfectly dry. Another part of the trail just followed an old flat forest service road and that was a nice break from the rocky parts. I finally reached the Big South Fork River. It is such a pretty color and makes a nice rushing sound. I stopped for a while at a picnic table in the Leatherwood Ford area and ate lunch. Another 3 miles of hiking along the peaceful river led me to the climb to the top of the ridge. I passed by an expansive overlook called Falls Branch Overlook. The ridge top hiking was pretty nice. I crossed a creek and saw some dudes at a nice campsite. I came to another campsite and claimed it for myself. About 4 more miles to Bandy Creek where I get my permit and they have a gift shop. 🤟
Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail
This trail is 333 miles long running from Morehead, KY to Oneida, TN. These blogs are about my experiences backpacking this trail. I've hiked every section at least once and was a class of 2019 Hiker Challenge participant.