Miles 97-108. 12.5 recorded miles. The “Heidelberg Death March”.
The rushing creek was a soothing sound that lulled me to sleep. Somehow my aching feet and back were healed by the restful sleep I got. I started hiking at 10am and had to cross the creek with my shoes off to get back to the trail. I started walking on a dirt road only to come to another creek crossing 30 minutes later. This beautiful part of the creek was lined with an overhanging rock shelter and some ruins of a suspension bridge. The sun reflected off the water and made some cool dancing patterns on the sandstone walls. I dried my feet and put my shoes back on and continued hiking uphil. The dirt road turned to a gravel Jeep road. At a quite inconvenient part of the uphill hike, I encountered about 20 Jeep off-roaders making their way into the valley. I stoped and let them pass and waved at them all. It looked like SO much fun. I would love to go off-roading sometime! There are SO many trails around Kentucky because of all the logging and oil wells. I kept hiking and finally came to the top of the ridge where I knew I wanted to stop and have lunch. I also knew that somewhere at this point there was supposed to be an arch called “Sheltowee Arch” right off the road. I looked for any sign of a trail that would go down to the arch but it was way too steep. Finding this arch would require some bushwhacking and I didn’t have the time or energy to spare on this trip. After lunch, I kept hiking and came to beginning of the the paved part of the road. I waved at the horses as I walked past and looked on my GPS to see that I had 10 miles to go today. 10 miles on paved roads with minimal shade and no clouds in the sky in 90 degree heat. Yikes! I can’t believe I’m insane enough to do this! Somehow it was easy to just put one foot in front of the other and my sun hat and sun glasses really made a difference. I found myself taking lots of pictures. These people’s backyards were gorgeous!! Views of the bluegrass mountains in the distance. Rolling hills with wildflowers and singing birds. The decaying barns and trucks made for interesting centerpieces to my pictures. I watched my GPS for mile marker 100 so I could take a selfie. I passed a few other packs of dogs, thankfully without incident, and finally saw a roaming little cat. I’ve been seeing all these dogs but never any outdoor cats until now. (I’m an animal person, but cats especially.) I walked on the hot sunny road all day and was getting pretty thirsty. I rounded the corner and came upon Conveniently Country, a small grocery store run by a nice lady named Rhonda who wants to open a hostel on her land for the Trace hikers. I told her it was a good idea and that businesses catering to tourists around the Red River Gorge and this area are booming. I got a grape soda and a vitamin water and sat outside in the shade with her dog. He was a really nice, lazy dog. The next five miles blew by as I passed more countryside houses and bluegrass landscapes. I just kept one foot in front of the other and before you knew it, I saw the railroad tracks and the blue bridge of Heidelberg- signaling I was almost to the car. I got to my car and put on my sandals and went to take pictures of the bridge and the Kentucky River. My feet and legs are so sore. Definitely the worst I’ve ever felt from hiking. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a better shoe than mine for walking dozens of miles on paved roads. Hoka One One. They look rediculous (There were no color choices. So naturally, women’s One One’s are bright purple and pink.) but are so cushiony and shock absorbent! I only had one small blister on my pinky toe and I’m so happy it’s not worse. People who hike this section: choose your footwear wisely! Tennis shoes are better than hiking boots for these road walks. This section was challenging mentally and physically and I feel pretty bad ass for doing it alone. Honestly I would do it again if the weather was perfect. 💙
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.