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 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.