Sheltowee Trace – June

a-signLooking for the start of the hike? Click here.a-road-walkJune’s hike began at the Wildcat Mountain Battlefield. The trail followed a road through an area of old trailers; the surface varying between asphalt, gravel and broken rock. The road walk continued for the first hour or so before starting into some very pretty woods on an actual hiking trail. After several small creek crossings we climbed by some cliffs up to a flatter, enjoyable walk through pines. All too soon, we hit Rt 490.a-halfway On the plus side, we had reached the actual halfway point on the entire Sheltowee Trace Trail. Less exciting, it was also the start of a 5 mile walk on asphalt. By then I had caught up to Kevin and Blake and hiked with them in the strong sun. By afternoon, we were walking on Forest Service trail with lots of mud wallows caused by significant ATV use. We encountered about a dozen of the machines through the afternoon. The day continued to be sunny and in the 80s. At the first major creek crossing, I switched to sandals. Later, I just started walking through, getting my shoes soaked, but the cool water felt good.

A cooling creek crossing
A cooling creek crossing

Staying with Kevin and Blake worked well as there was a couple confusing intersections where we could split up and check for blazes. There were no significant issues though and we stayed on the correct route. Just a bit before 5 PM we finished the 21 mile day at a very nice area right along Raccoon Creek. Steve Barbour (Sheltowee Trace Director) was there with some ice cold pop. Root beer never tasted so good. The creek was also an inviting place to wash off and cool down. It was turning into an enjoyable evening.

Relaxing along Raccoon Creek
Relaxing along Raccoon Creek

While we had dinner, Kevin mentioned that he pulled four ticks off himself that day. He’d also attracted a few the previous month. Treating my clothes with Permethrin seems to have been a good idea. I hadn’t found a single tick on me yet.

Mike walked in with Duane about 7 pm. They had gone the wrong way a couple times, walking some extra miles.

Other than an occasional ATV rumbling by and some nearby snoring, it was a quiet night and I slept later than normal. With only 12 miles to go there was no big rush and I started after most of the group; a bit after seven. The day’s hike continued on gravel road for two miles with a significant steep climb at the end of it. Once the trail veered off, it was also an ATV trail. Conditions were not exactly pristine with mud wallows on a regular basis. a-wallowA significant stretch was also in sight of a gravel road.  It was getting tempting to do more road walking, though I would be getting enough of that. Quite often there were additional trails that had been created by others dodging the wallows. In several spots, the Forest Service had been working to harden the trail, though there was still quite a bit to do.

The trail after being hardened
The trail after being hardened

Eventually I climbed out of a creek valley to an intersection with multiple gravel roads. Mike, Duane, Kevin and Blake were having a conference to determine the correct route, but none were confident. I pointed out on the map where I believed we were while Blake called Steve for directions. My assessment was confirmed and we all started down the gravel road towards Rt 421. Regardless, I decided to find some waypoints on the Interweb and download them to my phone or GPS. By noon, we had made the road, had lunch in the last bit of shade and started the short road walk to June’s final destination. 137 miles to go.

Once I got back home, I checked the local paper. There was a big article concerning how often people from Cincinnati were getting hurt or killed by falling of cliffs in Red River Gorge. We’ll be hiking through there in August. It should be interesting.

Looking for July?