… 33 Miles Later

The thing about backpacking is……. sometimes it’s not even that fun.

I mean who ever heard of walking up and down hills for hours on end carrying 40 pounds on your back with nothing to look forward to at night but your own stench and a bed that’s just not quite as comfortable as the one you left at home? Who said it was fun to get blisters on your feet and scrapes on your legs, to get soaked in the rain and baked in the sun, to get lost and to run around in the woods just to find a campsite for a little rest before doing it all again the next day?

But somehow I always want to get back out there.

The Plan

RRG map

I decided somewhere along the way that it’d be a pretty neat idea to thru-hike the Sheltowee Trace trail. That’s the 319 mile trail that runs through the Daniel Boone National Forest (plus a little in Tennessee). So to start preparing, my friend Clyde and I decided to test our hiking limits with 33 miles of backpacking over 3 days.

Day 1

starting pic

Bright-Eyed and Bushy Tailed at the Gray’s Arch Trailhead

Day 1 was exciting and fun. Until it wasn’t. We kept a fast pace but stopped at all the cool places along the way like Gray’s Arch and Hanson’s Point for photo-ops and a little R&R. All was well until we were 10 miles in with 3 miles yet to go and a heap of uphill in between. Our trek up onto the last ridge nearly put the nail in the coffin, but we persevered and eventually made it to camp.

Gray's Arch

Forever salty that the “Gateway to the West” stole its design from our very own Mother Nature. Where’s the credit, man!?

Trees actually plants

If you squint real hard, it almost feels like you’re flying over a forest

casual break

♫ “Sit beside a mountain stream – see her waters rise
Listen to the pretty sound of music as she flies” ♫

Hammock in sunset

Hold on to those sweet fleeting rays of autumn sun, for winter will soon be upon us

fire

The night is dark and full of terrors

(10-7-17) Moon Landscape Indian Ridge

Howl at the moon, if you like. We all deserve to run with the pack

Day 2

second day

Still kickin’ somewhere along the Indian Staircase Ridge

Day 2: The middle child. Not too good, not too bad, prone to getting lost. Yeah, we got lost. It was my second time on the Osborn Bend Loop, and it was my second time losing the trail, but half an hour of bush-wacking straight south and we were back on track, only a few scratches worse for wear. The day ended with a couple miles of stream walking which turned into stream tromping as night grew closer and we still hadn’t found the campsite. Finally we stumbled on a big group of campers…on the site we’d planned to use. So we hiked back a little and set up along the shore before the rain hit.

drops

Pro Tip: check that your new treatment drops come with the dropper top before getting mid hike and realizing you have to eyeball “eight drops” of chlorine and phosphoric acid

snake

Watch your step, or you just might lose it

bathroom

Take advantage of modern ingenuity when given the chance. Squatting is fun, but sitting is funner!   *more fun

(10-7-17) Hornet Nest

Ah, my jellyfish brethren are returning. Greetings, comrades!

2nd camp

Day 2: Saturday, Oct 7 2017 6:22PM – Campsite on Swift Camp Creek

Day 3

end pic

Soaked to the bone, but Clyde stays strong

Boy, did the rain hit! We stayed dry through the night, but once morning came and we had to pack up, there was simply nothing to be done. We got soaked. Everything that could absorb water, did. By the time we got to the car, my boots were becoming cisterns and my clothes had gained several pounds. The rain aside, Day 3 was hard. We were tired and sore and blistered and chafing. It was an 8 mile hike back to the car, but we made it in 3.5 hours. As tired as we were and with as much uphill as we had, we got out on sheer I-don’t-want-to-be-here-anymore determination. And yet, I want to do it all again even now.

I’ll leave you this time with a quote from our favorite headmaster, Albus Dumbledore.

“Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

signature edit

One thought on “… 33 Miles Later

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