Wednesday, April 25, 2012

LBL N/S Hike 2.1 day 3

LBL N/S Trail Hike 2.1 day 3 We started day 3 at the Great Western Iron furnace.
We passed by Bison Hideaway On Ginger bay road. The Bison were all hiding from us! Thank goodness before they lost signal or we had gotten down the actual trail. We realized we hadn’t put the stove into the backpacks. That would have made lunch a little difficult to cook! We started off and the path was really a great path. It was much drier so no mud! The weather was cool but sunny, so it was really nice to be hiking. About 3 miles in we came to the Iron Mountain Camp and the fire tower.
I could not have slept in the shelter; it was kind of freaky to me. Also we were to close to the fire tower.
The fire tower house and barn were really creepy. Things from when it was used were still there. Papers and couches it looked so abandoned that you just felt like you were walking into a horror movie!
We did see a nest of baby birds up in the shelter. One little baby had hopped out and was sitting in the poison ivy.
Don didn’t feel so bad about his shoes when we saw on the ground an entire sole from someone’s boot. They had hiked in the mud the day before us. We kind of laughed at the invisible person because they always walked straight in the muddiest parts. We always knew where not to step because this person had slid and sank in the mud so much. As we continued on we came to amazing pine forest. I loved seeing all the tall pine trees. You just had to stop and look up every once in a while at the majesty of the trees. Also the wind was picking up so we also were on the look out for widow makers (branches weakened by the storms)! The softness of the needles was really nice to walk on. The piney smell just filled your nose. I could have popped a tent up and stayed right there. We thought about the fire risk though.
We made it to Tharpe Road, this is the final leg of the Hike, there is no road to be picked up at so once you start you gotta just go the last 8 miles! We went a head and stopped for lunch. There was a nice little bench so we were able to take a good break sitting off the ground. We were ready to finish so we began the last leg. It was a wide nice path so it was easy walking. We just kept waiting for the turn on the path heading to the last couple of miles. That seemed to take forever. It was 6 miles but we just kept trudging on. We walked up hills, down hills, over dry creek beds and thru pine and regular woods. Finally we got to the last 2 miles.
Donnie and Ana met up with us. We gave them our packs. You feel so light after you take your packs off. I was so excited to almost be done I just took off walking faster then I had the whole time. I was giddy to be so close. It was still 2 miles though. So as we got closer Donnie and Ana ran on ahead to take pictures of our finish. All of a sudden the path thinned to a small steep trail. We smelled the strong odor of a skunk. All I could think was no way did we come this far to get sprayed by a skunk the last 100 yards. Thank goodness that didn’t happen! I was racing to the end! Glad to have completed it. Also really glad to know a flush toilet was right across the road!!
LOL We went across the street and took our final Hike Photo at the South Welcome Center! Yeah!!

LBL N/S Hike 2.1 Day 2

Hike 2.1 Day 2 We woke up to a very cold morning. Making the coffee that morning even the propane was cold!!
The rain had stopped. Don unpacked the cooler and totes and was off to Wal-mart! Donnie Ana and I started getting breakfast and cleaning camp. The gatekeeper came by and checked on us. He let us know that the rain had moved out maybe just a sprinkle left. YAY!! We got out the propane stove and made bacon and eggs. The smell was so good and tasted great.
I felt a little guilty for having them without Don. The cowboy from last night came and said goodbye and good luck. When he left we got all their leftover wood. He had left a huge stack of old barn wood. We were gathering tiny sticks and stuff to start a fire. The neighbor behind us came over and poured some kind of fuel on the wood for us and really got it going. We aren’t sure what kind of fuel it was it was thick and green?
Oh the fire felt great. We were able to dry the blankets and pillows that had been rained on. We just sat huddled around the fire warming up and waiting. When yet another neighbor came over and offered hot coffee or hot cider! It felt really great this is the way camping had always been for me. People taking care of one another. Not being ignored like we were at Sugar Bay the first time. Donnie and Ana went and got Hot Cider made fresh for them and got to meet the ladies horses. I felt just wonderful! As we were preparing to leave camp tents had been cleaned and packed when a mystery arose. Donnie has lost a sock! How do you lose a sock when we only have limited places we have been. We were all contemplating where it could be when I looked down and there it was in his pants leg! What a funny way to start the day! Donnie and Ana take us back to Fords Bay road and we begin to hike. This particular part of the trail is just pretty normal walking. Had it not rained the night before! Our feet were sliding in mud. We had to walk around thick mud and would get it on our shoes the added weight was not okay!
We came to one section where the trail went off in five different directions. Thank goodness for the white diamond markers. We were also thankful for the advice the Cowboy had given us. We came upon the first logging area. It was very confusing. The trails seemed to go everywhere and now where. He had told us that the one that least looked like the trail wad the one we needed. I was so confused and nervous we didn’t even get picture. It was pretty crazy to see. All I could think of was Fern Gully and the monster eating the forest. We stopped at Blossey Cemetery for lunch. It was interesting because there was this sign:
And the Cemetery only had one stone in it.
It was a nice place to stop and eat though. Open at the top of the hill. We had decided that the kids would have a check point today. So they met us at road 165, the road that Donnie and Ana had gone to the day before! I felt better having a check point. Right after our meet up we realized a bridge was missing so we followed the horse trails for a little while. We continued on happy to cross back over to the other side of the Trace. We crossed over and ran into the detour! We had to walk the road until Ginger Bay Road because there was a major logging and controlled burn area. So we walked on down to where Donnie and Ana were waiting for us. We decided from there to drive on down to Piney campground for the night. This is the campground I have went to since I was a little girl so I am very comfortable there. We again set up camp and started a fire then went to bed! The end of day 2

North South Trail LBL Hike 2.1

Night Before We arrived at Sugar Bay to restart the hike. I was very nervous and excited! We right away set up tents in the daylight and gathered wood to start a great fire. There is plenty of wood to be gathered thanks to all the storms that have happened in the LBL area. Once it started getting dark we walked down to the boat ramp to look at the stars. They were very pretty. We all headed to bed so we could get an early start in the morning. Of course I had to get up and pee about 3 am, thanks diabetes!! So I walk with the flashlight to the bath house, I looked up and was in utter amazement. The stars were so bright, I almost fell over looking up at them. You could see every star out there! I had to go back to the tent and wake everyone up to see them. So much for sleeping good before the hike! So we finally went fully to sleep. N/S LBL Hike 2.1 Day 1
Day one started out pretty uneventful. We walked around a few bays and saw beautiful views of the lake.
We saw a lot of tornado damage. Massive trees knocked down in huge sections. You could see where the bark had been stripped off. Trees around had the tops snapped off.
Really noticed the poison ivy and oak had sprung up quite a bit in the 2 weeks since I had been here. Don’s shoe started giving him trouble, it began to split... not good. He carried on though. We made it to Golden Pond/Planetarium! I was so happy that was the first goal. Although for me it was to early to stop. Maybe I should have just stopped. We decided that we would go to Wranglers Campground for the night. So I set up for us to go ahead a walk five more miles. It was only 240pm so we had plenty of time. Since we only had a few more miles we took out our extra clothes, dropped the stove and some other weight from our packs to walk even faster. We set up for Donnie and Ana to pick us up. (They were our drivers so we had lighter backpacks and could walk further each day.) We said Fords Bay Road, and then we would head to Wranglers camp. So off we went on a really lovely wide path. That didn’t last long. It turned to a very narrow windy poison ivy filled trail. At one point the color on the trail tags had faded so they were yellow. I was panicked for a few minutes because the tags are supposed to be white. I had to climb over a very big fallen tree covered in ivy! I was so not happy. We were okay after about a quarter of a mile we saw a white tag. It was getting colder, but we were getting closer to where we had set to meet the kids. We got the road, no kids. We tried calling no answer. We have gone 12.91 miles so we are pretty tired. We keep texting and calling. Now the rain begins, so the Trace is only a ½ mile away so maybe they are waiting at the Trace. Don's shoe has busted across the bottom. His foot is hurting now so I head up there. No car! I am mad as a hornet. So then I decide Okay we had told them to hang out at Closon overlook so it is only another ½ mile away. So I call Don and I let him know I am walking up there. No luck. Now I am struggling between being angry and concerned, the Trace is a very winding and hilly road. Are they okay? An hour passes, the cold rain is soaking me. I have left my pack with Don so I don’t even have my jacket at this point. We decide Don should carry both packs up to Colson overlook so we can at least start a fire in the picnic area. We are really regretting taking all the extras out of our pack! We finally get a hold of them basically we were not looking at the same map and Donnie went to the next road the went to Wranglers Campground. It was a paved road about 8 more miles down the Trace. We were only about 3 miles from the campground where we were! We were on a gravel road that did not have signage for the campground. We decided right away we must use the same map!! I was still so frustrated and freezing to the bone that I really had no desire to talk yet. I was sure Don was gonna call it off. We finally make it to Wranglers campground.
They are so nice get us a great spot near the shower house. I let them set up camp and get a fire started while I go shower. When I first walked in I was nervous because it was push buttons showers. Sometimes they do not heat up well. This one did thank goodness. So I stood under the streaming water and just cried. I did however also warm up and gain some resolve! We decided that Don would leave first thing in the morning drive on to a Wal-Mart find some shoes and we would get this hike done. I loved sitting by the fire that night listening to all the horses around us neighing. And watch the wranglers brushing and caring for their horses. One cowboy came ever and was telling us about a confusing area on the trail. We would face tomorrow. I was very grateful that. We ate and headed to bed rain came down all night long. A little leaked in on both tents getting blanket and pillows wet. I woke up once in the night to find Don writhing in pain he had a pressure headache. So I got him meds, it was so cold getting out from under blankets was not easy. I actually put my head under blankets to sleep. At this point we really were so physically and mentally exhausted it didn’t matter we went to sleep. End of Day One!!

Monday, April 16, 2012


I have 3 days until I get to go and finish this hike. I say finish with my fingers crossed. Don was talking about his foot hurting today. I really just wanted to scream. I am telling you I will be finishing with or with out them. They can meet me at the end each day! I just felt like he was making excuses not to finish before we have even left. I feel really annoyed about this today. I have this idea and I know it is mine and not theirs but I really would feel better with lots of support! Also, On my mind is the fact that there is 35 days until my son leaves for basic training.I am keeping busy so I do not dwell on this fact. I am incredibly excited for him. But I am also terrified for him and know i will miss him terribly. He is just like his Father, he has this way of making me so mad I can't see straight then make me laugh and smile so much it hurts! I love that boy! His sisters and I are really going to miss him more than he knows! Okay, I am done whining, sorry just needed a minute!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hike 2.0

To the finish! I have gotten word that Don is going to be able to take the days off for us to make the next go at the final 2/3 of the hike! I am so excited and relaxed at the same time! I want to finish this so badly! I know I have become a bit obsessed about it. If you have attempted something this you discover how addictive it can be. Outdoors things just draw at my soul. I was so at peace!

Monday Monday

I am really struggling with not finishing the Hike! I am trying to to fall into a major funk of depression. I feel like only a couple of people understand how important this is to me. My husband said he is going to try to take a couple of days off so he can take me to finish. I really hope he can. It is a Monday morning here and I am trying to keep myself busy. I know that is part of what I have to do. I have already mowed 2/3 of the lawn. I did some Pilates and after writing I am going to clean house. I must not allow myself to just plop on a couch and do nothing. I felt so good and strong doing things. I am able to do so much more than I "feel" like I can. I can be so hard on myself. So this Monday is about keeping this momentum going. Get things done and feel good about it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hike 2.0 day 2 and 3

Hike 2.0 Day 2
We woke up with the sun to a great view of the field. I was excited to have my Mountain House scrambled eggs with bacon. Donnie was less then impressed! Donnie was really ready to get going and try again. Unfortunately the damage had been done to his body. He was peppy and we talked to Don on the phone and figured out what was wrong with our packs. We fixed that problem. The packs felt ten pounds lighter. We had the weight to much on our shoulders instead of on our waist. We had camped at our first stopping point on Hike 1.0. So we were at Old Ferry Road, so we have nicknamed the next leg the Fairy road. It had seemed like all would be better if we crossed the road to that “fairy path. Well as we began walking we really felt that way. The woods were just beautiful. Dogwoods were bright white throughout the woods. There were hundreds of purple flowers through out the area, mixed with red, yellow and pink flowers. It was just lovely. The sun was shining down through the tress in beautiful sun beams. The tiny leaves on the trees seemed to just be waving good morning to us. We saw large patches of soft looking moss covered patches. Just a quarter mile in we came to a huge bridge going over a nice sized creek. The white and tan rocks with bubbling water just flowing.

We continued just walking the path, again the woods opened up to a nice field as we crossed it we found a strip of woods with a babbling brook running through. Donnie stopped and splashed the water all over his face and washed his hair out in it. The water was so crisp and clear. It felt amazing. I had him wet a bandana for me and I was able to wash my gritty sweaty face. We also wet our hats to cool us off. It was heating up and our water was getting low. I asked Donnie to fill his bottle. We should have filled everything. Note to self if ever on a hike again take no chances fill water bottles whenever there is beautiful, clear, cold water!! We passed the second field and headed back into the woods. Now we were heading towards Duncan Lake and a water source.

We got into the woods and found ourselves by a muddy, icky creek bed. One side being about 3 feet higher up… So I had to put one foot up and the next level and have Donnie push my backpack to give me the ummph to make it up. Only problem was at first I just couldn’t force myself to move. I counted 1…2….No wait! Okay I can do this. So we counted again and on 3 this time he pushed, I tried to avoid face planting and I made it. He just steps right up…

We start on some of the very steep hills at this point. Another thing I learned is that going up hill is very tiring; going down hill really can hurt and wear on your knees. We followed a road, that was part of the trail and it also led to an old cemetery. Along the road you can still see trenches that were from the Civil War. We investigated the cemetery and found old headstones from the Civil War.

We sat to have lunch, I asked to Donnie to pull out the water from the creek, he had not filled the bottle. So we now had about 1 cup of water. So we ate our applesauce and moved on in the search for water. We came to the area that was suppose to be the lake, we never saw the lake. We had learned from Hike 1.0 it is not worth going off trail to try to find water so we carried on. At the end of one section of trail we came to a road where someone had left 3 gallon jugs of water. We are still unsure whether those were meant for hikers or not. We didn’t take any because we worried it might be someone else’s water source…We should have taken a little!

We came to a creek thank goodness. It was a really nice fast flowing creek. So we moved down to it and started filling jugs with water. We added the tabs to make the water safe. Although I would have drank it fresh! We boiled some for lunch and as that water boiled we took off our shoes and put them into the cold water. It felt amazing! To bad the rocks at this creek were so sharp or I would have left my shoes off.
I realized this was the perfect time to get the ziplock bag of my snake clothes out! I pulled out bar of body soap and then my underwear thank goodness I didn’t get them out all the way yet. This would be the moment a group of bike riders decided to come out of the woods right where we are! So once it cleared I got to work on cleaning my clothes. I hung them on a branch. Donnie was very quiet, we start eating and his attitude is so different. I am not sure what is wrong. So we gather up our things and move on. We now hit some of the steepest trails yet. One minute I am ready to fall forward as we walk up hills then we a carefully walking down steep hills praying that we don’t slip and slide all the way down. Going downhill I am taking such baby steps I feel like I will never get to the bottom.

We take a small break where Donnie is very intense. I just get frustrated and move along.
Finally after 9.5 miles we see the tents through the trees.

We have made it to Sugar bay. We walk out towards one of the sites and normally campers at LBL are great the people at Sugar Bay were not. They looked at us like aliens invading their world. So we were like okay and just went and found a site. Then we found out bad news. We had misread the amenities page this campground had no water! Donnie was not a fan of the thought of drinking lake water. I would have boiled, treated it and been fine. So as the evening goes on Donnie finally tells me how much pain he is in and that he is does not think he can go on at this time. My emotions took a huge nose dive. I was mad. I want to finish this. But I also know if the same thing had happened to me I would need to quit and I would hope he would not make me feel to bad about it. I did make him feel pretty bad. I cried a lot. I would love to have just moved on. But I do not believe a 37 mile hike alone would have been a wise idea. I wasn’t ready to go home yet. We posted a note at the bathroom asking for a ride to any of the campgrounds with water. But as I said the campers at Sugar Bay were not the kindest around. We went ahead and ate one more meal using some water then we were careful with the rest of the water to make sure we had enough for the next morning’s breakfast. I had planned on trying again to get a ride the nest day. As we slept, or tried, I watched Donnie struggling. I wanted to do this as a great memory. Not as something where he was miserable. He was now miserable. He kept trying to get through and make me feel better. But he was done and nothing could make me feel better. I decided laying there; I would call Don in the morning to come get us. That was not an easy decision for me. So then I was able to just enjoy the moon beaming into our tent. I would write my complaints about the bad campers more, but I will not waste my time typing any more about them!
That was the end to day 2

Hike 2.0 Day 3
I woke up ready to hike. Oh yeah we are not hiking….so bummed. I evaluated our water and made breakfast. I knew if we were still there at lunch we would have to use lake water. I called Don he was not able to come so My Mom and Dad came to the rescue. Donnie and I cleaned up our campsite and the one next to us. People are very messy at the back country campsites. I don’t leave a campsite dirty..EVER. I had a hard time not going around cleaning the whole campground. We made a fire to warm us up a little it was a cool breezy morning on the lake. I decided to just kind of relax while waiting for them to come. Donnie and I had some really good conversations waiting.I also walked over to the point we left the trail. I prayed and took a picture of my end spot because I will return!

When Mom and Dad got there we asked to them to take us to retrieve our gear. So down Old Ferry road we headed again. I had to tell them the story of peeing my pants over the snake, because I had to walk that path again. My dad came with me down the trail. I grabbed a big walking stick to take with me. Once I got to the section where the snake had been I started sweeping it as I walked to the bridge. Back and for the so the snake couldn’t get me this time. Whew no snake. I poked the stick around our bundle under the bridge. No animal seemed to skitter away. I used the stick to pull out the bundle. Then I carefully picked it up went back on to the bridge. I loaded all of the gear into my emptied out backpack. Dad and I stood admiring the beautiful creek for a few minutes. It was still flowing in parts. One section was a deep green pool with little silver minnows swimming around. The sun shining into the water was mesmerizing. Finally we headed back. Again I started swinging my stick on the grassy path. When what do I see at my feet. The snake, of course. It was laying a few inches on the path looking very dead. It had not been there earlier though. So I poked at it and it was Not dead it hissed at me. I did not pee this time I just gently nudged it off the path. I could not believe that snake tried to get me again!!
We made it back to the North Welcome Center; I went inside to return the dollar with the bite out of it. Well the lady at the welcome center tried not to accept it! I told her I got it from here on Saturday! She reluctantly took it after some snipping about it. I then noticed candy bars behind the counter and bought 2 with my $20. The women tucked the torn dollar into my change!! I was mad. Note to self, return torn bills right away!
Mom and Dad took us the scenic way home. We stopped at a Country Ham store. I was bad and bought BACON!! It was so good. We also stopped to see my Great Grandfather and Grandmothers grave. I don’t get down there very often, so I was happy to see it. It was nice to visit with my parents on the ride home. We finally arrived home, ending North South Trail Hike 2.0.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hike 2.0 The First Third Day 1

Hike 2.0
The First Third

Walking the North South trail at Land between the Lakes is a life goal of mine. It is 59 miles in total. It is beautiful land that is wonderful for hiking and camping. As a child we camped there. It has always been a safe place for me. It is a place to go and recharge my spirit. As a child when we went camping at Piney (a campground at the bottom of LBL), it was the 3 weeks of a year that my family was neat, organized and Calm. This is not something that was usual. So a deep love for the area has grown in my heart. I also began taking my family there and we have made many great memories there. When I found out there was a marked trail to walk the whole LBL area I was so excited. We tried once before; we will refer to that as Hike 1.0.
This is the story of hike 2.0 Day 1.

At home we packed and planned for months to prepare for this. We waited for the weather to be at a peak of 80’s in the day and 50’s at night. We left Evansville at 7 in the morning. We arrived at the North welcome station a little after 9am. I went in to purchase our back country camping passes and bug spray for ticks. Here we found out that we are starting are hike in the middle of a random turkey hunting weekend. Thanks goodness for my pink hat! I am not a turkey!! As I paid for our stuff I was given a dollar bill with a huge chunk taken out of it. I should have given it back.

We filled all of our water containers and posed for our picture. My legs were shaking from the weight of the backpack.

At 9:41 am we were off! Right away we saw the white marker for the N/S trail. Now in a way this was our first oopsie. I had forgotten that we had decided to take the bike trail from the north station. It was actually about 2 miles longer on the actual N/S trail. It was also a much prettier walk. So it was okay. The trail leads you back to the lake and you walk along the edge. We had a moment of nervousness when we noticed the trail shift to where the lake was on our left side, it should always be to our right! We were actually going way uphill this was a switchback to get us higher. We just kept following the white markers. When you are on a trail like this that is really all you can do it follow the markers.

We arrived at Moss Creek picnic area.

Although in my picture it looks cloudy it really was a gorgeous day. We took off our packs which hurt our shoulders so badly. Pulled out our camp stove and made our lunch. We were off again. The terrain is very hilly so lots of switchbacks and ups and downs. Donnie really had a shift in attitude, he had been so encouraging. Now he was in pain and really frustrated. My shoulders were killing me as well so I also was frustrated. Push on is all you can do at this point. We came to a point where on Hike 1.0 we had gone off course, we stayed on course…this saved us about 2-3 miles! Where we had went before to try to get water was a bad idea!! Thankfully we stayed the course and got to Pisgah Point boat launch. This is where Donnie was ready to be done for the day! I was not! We pushed on. I was so happy when we got to the bridge that had been broken before and there was a new beautiful bridge for us to cross. Getting my butt and a 35lb pack over a muddy creek is not fun! We were walking through the mosquito infested area from 1.0 so I was spraying my Skin so Soft on me just in case. Thankfully they were no where near as bad. I kept saying “Ya though I walk through the valley of mosquitoes, I will fear no evil for my skin so soft is with me”

When we arrived at a large creek area we were really hurting from our heavy packs so we decided to lose some gear. We unpacked some clothes, water bottles, propane tank, and just some random things. We wrapped them into a rain poncho and slid them under the bridge. We knew we were near a road and decided we would recover gear later. The creek had pretty water in it this year. Last time it was dry and mosquito filled. As we walked on we came to an area where the trail had a ditch on both sides. It was very pretty, a dirt footpath with grass edges with beautiful purple flowers lining it. I was so relaxed I stopped watching the path held my head up and enjoyed the walk. That was when I heard it the rattling of leaves and the hissing of the snake at my feet! Oh I screamed so loud it was in striking position and hissing so loud! I screamed louder jumped and totally peed my pants! This is not a good thing on the first day of a long hike. We decided to sleep at the end of this trail right before Old Ferry Road. There is a beautiful field surrounded by woods that we set up camp for the night. So we cleaned up made our dinner and settled in early. Donnie is so quiet and tired he fell to sleep right away. I was so nervous hearing every little noise. The whippoorwills would keep me company for hours singing to one another. I listened to owls hoot back and forth. Finally Donnie woke up for a while. We heard a tremendous crash. We both jumped and looked at each other wide eyed thinking of the turkey hunters.It was a tree falling in the woods. We did here some hunting dogs in the distance and a few distant gun shots. None close to us though. I was glad we were in the field at that point. Very visible in our orange and gray tent. The stars and the moon were so bright. I loved looking at them. I could have watched them for hours. My body was so tired that I knew I needed sleep. I finally lay down and was able to get some sleep. And that was the end of day 1.
I have photos on my facebook.

I will get some on here later.