Saturday- 11.2 recorded miles
Sunday- 17.1 recorded miles
Woot woot the first hiker challenge! I drove down Friday night and stayed with Bob and Lucy (thanks:)). I can't say I got a whole lot of sleep. I was excited and a little nervous, especially because there were 40 people that signed up to hike. That's a lot of people. I drove a few minutes to the Morehead Conference Center and hopped on a shuttle to the northern terminus. It was raining cats and dogs- of course! We took our group photo with our rain gear on and took off into the wet woods. It was the same trail I remember from hiking last summer. Just a little less green this time. I was really glad I bought these gaiters last minute. They were actually keeping my legs and feet warm. The hike this day was only 9 miles so I took it easy. I thought for sure this I wouldn't get solitude in a group hike like this. I still don't understand. 40 people began hiking at the same time and within 30 minutes, I was not within earshot or sight of another hiker. Just the soggy trail and the sound of raindrops. I took a side-trip down a jeep road for a few minutes. I looked at my gps to see where I was. The road eventually would go on private property. I thought it best to turn back. I hiked up and down the rolling hills of Rowan County and eventually passed some people taking a lunch break and eating under their rain ponchos. I just ate a packet of buffalo chicken while I was walking. I also looked forward to the chili supper. The rest of the day was pretty much the same as the beginning- roller coaster type of trail. I eventually reached Dry Branch about 2:30 and got my tent set up at Clark's Park. I was pretty exhausted so I took a nap. Dinner was served at 4 by the wonderful people of the Cave Run Lake Chapter. I'm glad Lucy was there- it was nice to have someone to talk to. I didn't really know anyone else besides Steve. I did eventually make friends with a few people my age. We bonded over some Makers Mark whiskey. I slept well that night thanks to my 0 degree bag, but I felt bad for other folks because it dropped down to 9 degrees overnight.
I woke up in 3 inches of snow! Frozen boots is one of the worst things that can happen to you backpacking. There was no time to dry them out on the portable heaters, I had woken up pretty late. I savored every moment though. I tore down camp keeping my sleeping bag around me, waiting until the last minute to stuff it away. I shoved my feet in those frozen boots and ran over to give Steve my 5lb drop. Off I went up the familiar hill and through a gate that you had to keep closed. I looked back at the empty Clark's Park covered in a blanket of snow with scattered footprints. I got over the suspension bridge on Holly Fork Road and skirted the field to find a creek crossing. It wasn't a shallow one. I looked fairly easy to jump over, but my leap was not so graceful. I smeared a good amount of mud on my pants and had one hand immersed in the soft bank of the creek. Well there go my dry gloves. Now I hiked with my hands in the pockets of my puffy. Crossing over i-64, it was still 17 degrees out. As I walked down the forest roads, the sun came out. I put on the cruise control as I listened to music and watched the snowflakes sparkle and reflect the sunlight. Gorgeous. I was pleased to see Eagle Lake as I rounded a corner and reached the top of the hill. Almost there. So close to eating Penn Station! (The after-hike meal is solely what keeps me motivated on long backpacking trips.) I walked to through downtown Morehead and was surprised to see I had logged 17 miles- the most I've logged in one day! I was super super sore but I can't wait for the next section!
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.