Sheltowee Trace – July

To start from the beginning, click here.

As with each month, I needed to decide whether to drive to the trail on Friday and camp, or head down early Saturday morning. When I filled out the registration form, I stated I’d be there on Friday night. However, since the Saturday morning shuttle didn’t begin until 8 am, I’d be able to get up at a semi-reasonable hour and just drive down on Saturday morning. On Friday afternoon, I emailed Steve of my change of plan so he wouldn’t be looking for me on Friday night. His response was that the shuttle time had been moved up to 6 am. Crap.

Kentucky River by the shuttle point

Kentucky River by the shuttle point

And so, my alarm went off at 3 am on Saturday and my 3:20 departure got me to the shuttle location at the town of Heidelberg promptly at 6. The bus ride back to our starting point was interesting. It was also the first time I’ve ever felt the need to use a bus’s seatbelts.

After a short road walk, we began along a relatively level trail that was also used by dirt bikes and ATVs. What this meant was there were occasional mud wallows to work around, but nothing too difficult. The scenery was a nice, younger forest; nothing too dramatic. Occasional stretches were on gravel road, but mostly the morning was spent on single track trail.

Another wallow to dodge

Another wallow to dodge

The day was hot and we were going to be spending the night at a dry camp so by early afternoon I was looking for a good spot to load up on water. Several folks stopped at a likely looking creek, but Mike and I were holding out for something better, and hopefully closer to camp. We found it at Resurgence cave, were a good sized stream poured clear and cold right from the hole in the earth. I set my filter to “bat guano” and loaded up.

Resurgence Cave

Resurgence Cave

Taking a break by the cave

Taking a break by the cave

We were making good time on the 17 miles planned for the day and the next day’s hike was only 12 miles and on road. As we talked of the possibility of knocking the whole hike out in one day, the heat and miles began to take their toll. Once we closed in on the evening’s camp spot, all talk of pushing on was forgotten. The camp area was reached about 4 pm and a cold pop from Steve was a great addition to my freeze dried dinner.

I was unable to find a spot to pitch my tent that was flat enough for my liking, but between the day’s miles and contents of a flask, I was still able to sleep well. One of these days I will need to try a hammock though.

Gravel road, soon to be asphalt road

Gravel road, soon to be asphalt road

I got rolling by 7 on Sunday morning. The first 5 miles alternated between road and trail, then a creek walk back onto road for the rest of the day. The final 7 miles were on gravel and asphalt. I’d like to say it was interesting, but it was not. I actually listened to music while I walked to help pass the time. Out in the sun, “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders seemed to fit. As it got hotter the timing seemed right for Brother Drege to sing “Too Old to Die Young.”

On the bright side, the miles did go by fast and it was still before noon when I spotted a bright blue bridge over the Kentucky River and got to my truck.

The finish!

The finish!

We were down close to mile 108, but the next stretch promised the longest road walk yet before the scenery of Red River Gorge.

Here’s the next stretch.