River to River Trail and Shawnee Forest Exploration
The Story of my first Thru Hike 2017
The Story of my first Thru Hike 2017
So I had been doing section hikes of the River to River trail for several years and had about done all of it. I was ready to try and tackle the whole trail at once. I had no one to hike with at the time and was going to do it solo.
It had been the mildest Winter I could remember and the month of February was unseasonably warm with some highs into the upper 60’s and no end in sight. I was worried the bugs were going to be out soon and wildflowere were blooming already.
You can make all the preperations in the world, but you can’t control the weather. So on a Sunday in early March after Church, I had my stuff packed and loaded and My wife was driving me to Elizabethtown. The forecast was continued mild for 10 days, but you know the 10 day forecast is only good for 1 day. It’s always different the next day.
Now it was supposed to rain tonight into tomorrow morning. So on the way down, I changed my mind and decided to start at Battery Rock. The old leg adds about 5 miles, but it makes up for it with more roads. South of Iron Furnace can be a sloppy mess. The rest is always sloppy to some degree. The Ohio river was flooding, so I wasn’t able to start quite as I was figuring on.
So I kiss my wife goodby and start on my way. It’s about 4 pm and I need to get as far as I can. It would have been nice to get into the woods at least, but darkness comes early in March. I don’t normally hike at night.
Natural Bridge!!!???? Where am I? I want to go to Eddyville!!! I’m going to have a giant hamburger, the best fries on the planet, and a PEPSI!!! And I’m going to get there while they are OPEN!
Between Eddyville and Millstone bluff is a small but deep pool with rocky bottom right on the trail with a nice flow of water, Not deep deep but bathtub deep. I hadn’t seen anyone on the trail at all and it was nice and warm and I was getting a little gamey so I thought I’d freshen up. This was one of the biggest mistakes I made.
It was of course cold water and it didn’t take long at ALL to undress, lather up, rinse and dry off and get dressed again in my shorts and t shirt. I then had time to get the pound of mud off my long pants and rinse them out. I was wringing what water I could out of them when I heard a Clip Clop coming down the hill. 2 riders. The said hi and how you doing, fine and whatever while their horses drank my soapy bathwater and pants dirt. I couldn’t very well tell them. So I tied my wet pants to the back pach and headed towards Millstone Lake.
I only had shorts and long pants, 1 each and I was wearing shorts in 38 degrees! I could only do one thing and put my wet 38 degree pants on over my shorts. After I was packed and hiking I actually warmed up ok and the pants dried out fairly fast and after a couple hours I took the shorts off and went long pants only like a regular person.
At Max Creek I took the old trail on past the turn down to the creek and came out at Cedar Lake Campground. Walked to the office and they were not open either, but I got their last can of soda and a pack of planters nuts and had to skip the $4 shower.
My trip was pretty well sunk since my wife said it was now forecast to get down to the 20’s with snow for the next couple of days. My wife could bring me warmer clothes but my sleeping bag was a 3 season bag and 30’s was excruciating roll into the fetal position and shiver time. I wasn’t going to be able to do ’20’s. So I just had to make it to Goddards Crossing and be halfway and throw in the towel…But Paula came up with a plan.
She could bring my warmer clothes and drop me off and pick me up every day, the limit was I’d have to be able to get someplace she could pick me up at. She asked and could get the days off as long as I could be done by Sunday. She was on the way with warmer clothes and going to pick me up at the interstate overpass anyway because if I didn’t want to try it, I was still going to need picked up there. So compromises were made. I was trudging up 45 towards Goddards crossing at the time and I told her I would be at the interstate overpass in an hour.
An Hour? I was going to have to pick up the pace a lot.
I had to get moving after I found out about the forcast and her picking me up at 5pm.
So I managed to get to the end of the trail where it comes out at the curve on the road at the underpass at almost exactly 5:00 though it was not easy. It wasn’t my natural pace. She got us a room at the golf course in Makanda and we went to the clubhouse for steaks. (after a long scalding bath) She dropped me off at the overpass the next morning at dawn because I had to really hoof it to make it by Sunday. Todays goal was Wayside.
Today started with Borks Falls, but no time to go down and take photos. Just had to take a couple passing the top.
I met my wife in the Lodge Parking lot. I cleaned up a little and sat down and ate too much. Tonight was snow and I had to get to Alto Pass.
She dropped me off Saturday morning early. The going was great having a light coating of snow made it magical and new looking. The only tracks I was in Giant City were turkey tracks. Everything is more hushed with snow down.
I was following boot tracks from here to Alto Pass. In the afternoon big blobs were falling off the trees and the tracks were stepping on them too so they were recent but I never caught a glimpse of them.
This was all I took Saturday. My wife met me in Alto Pass with Hot coffee and Candy bars. She Picked me up at the Godwin trailhead later. No idea why I didn’t take any more pictures but it was overcast and everything was grey. I didn’t take any on Sunday until I was getting close to Hutchins Creek. The clouds were patchy Sunday but the patches were snowy.