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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grassy Cove Segment- Cumberland Trail



Day One: 6.7 Miles..............Outcast Total: 1248.94
Day Two: 5.6
Total: 12.3

Marco, Dad, and I made this hike. We met at the top of Black Mountain and Dropped our cars. Then we loaded up the van and headed to Jewett Road to start the hike.

You can see maps at the Cumberland trail website.

From the Jewett road trailhead, its a pretty good climb to the top of Brady Mountain. The first overlook, Donnelly Overlook, is off to the right at the first split after the top. It has a slight uphill climb to it. Not marked well!

Lost Overlook is right off the right side of the trail.

The airplane crash site is even harder to find. When you go by some major big rocks on your right, there is a four wheeler path off to the left of the trail that looks like it goes over the edge. You will not see the crash site unless you go to the end and look over the edge. It is a steep slope that the wreckage is on. This is not marked on the trail. After you pass the large rocks if you look back to your left the four wheeler trail comes back up here.

Brady Bluff Overlook is the hot spot. The trail runs to the right. You can see to the Smoky Mountains. Grassy Cove is below you and you see all the farms. Beautiful spot. This is where we found our first people. A family of four.

We camped on the way down Brady Mountain on low gap. We saw the only other couple where we made camp. We made camp and told lies around the campfire. It was a beautiful starry night.

The next morning we hiked down to Hwy 68. Dad showed us how to slide down the trail. Experience I tell you!

We did a road walk to the Cox Valley Road trailhead. The creek was flowing so we filtered our water. Then we walked the creek, or I mean trail up to Windless Cave.

There are a couple of turns you need to know. First you get to a five way split. Turn right. There is a sign, but it is misleading. When you get to the bottom and cross the creek, turn right on the service road. No sign there. Just past this point you come to Windless Cave. They have the cave closed now for white nose syndrome. See picture as Marco didn't believe.

From here you go up to the top of Black Mountain. Look for the trail off to the left. It's a good climb to the top.

We ate lunch at the campsite on Black Mountain. Then we went through the big rocks and up the stairs which are similar to the "Stone Door", but narrower.

At the top there is a loop trail. The Cumberland trail goes to the right. The Southern Overlook is great! You can see all the way to the Smokey's here too. We continued on to the parking lot. Just before you get to the parking lot there are a couple of chimney's and a spring house from day's gone by.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Hobb's Cabin- TTA Hike




North Rim Trail to Hobb's Cabin...8.2 Miles...Easy..Outcast Total:1236.64
North Plateau Trail to Office.....9.4 Miles....Easy
Total: 17.6 Miles

The Outcasts hiked with the Tennessee Trail Association to Hobb's Cabin at the Savage Gulf.

Craig, Paula, and Marco are members of the Murfreesboro TTA, Lora is with the Soddy Daisy chapter. Dad also joined us as well as Pam. This was Pams first backpack.

We got on the trail around 9:30. We took the day loop trail to see the Savage Falls and then head down the Rim trail to Hobb's Cabin. It was a beautiful day and we got some great views in. We met up with the Upper Cumberland Chapter lead by Margaret that were doing a day hike in the area.

After we got to Hobb's Cabin, George joined us for the night. He had hiked in the Connector trail.

The first real entertainment was setting up Pam's tent. Of course this was the first time she set it up. We got some laughs as the four of us tried to figure it out.

We were then entertained by Pam as she carefully picked out a rock, wrapped it up in tin foil and then placed it over the fire. We were all thinking that there are other lightweight meals with more flavor. She was thinking that she was going to warm up her sleeping bag with this. We explained the melting of fabric and she changed her mind. She made a good comeback with making smores for everyone.

There were stories told from pies to chickens and some cough medicine taken. Ranger light foot stopped by to visit as well. Lot's of laughs all night. We apologized to other campers in the morning for our wild behavior.

The next morning we hiked out on the Plateau trail. We took a good rest break at lunch and Paula waited until the last bit of the trail before she showed Pam the correct procedure to use while falling with a backpack on. Always the teacher.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Hundred Mile Hike


North South Trail, North End 31 Miles...Outcast Total Miles: 1219.04
Canal Loop Trail 11 Miles
North South Trail, North End 31 Miles
North South Trail, From Golden Pond to Sugar Bay and back 28 Miles
Total Miles 101

I am writing this story with a lot of pride. Six years ago, Troy asked me to hike with him. He had been reading my hiking stories and had done some backpacking before. He told me then, that if we ever went over five miles a day that he would just have to back out. He had bad knees. Last year he asked me what the longest hike that I had ever been on and I told him seventy miles. He said that he wanted to do one hundred.....I said OK! Marco started five years ago and had never backpacked before. Not to mention that this is the most distance that Greg and I had ever done. I am proud of my fellow backpackers!

We headed out with the plan to place a car at the South end of Land between the Lakes and start hiking from Golden Pond going North. We were going to hike to the North end, do the Canal Loop and then hike to the South end of the North/South trail.

Day one:
We got on the trail at noon. Right off the git go Greg saw a green snake crossing the trail. The wildlife was on. When we took a break, I sat on a log and leaned against the tree behind me. The tree fell over. The entertainment was on. We made it to Rhodes Bay the first night. As we were setting up camp the owl started talking. All night long the wildlife continued. We had owls talking, Coyotes calling, and deer blowing. Not much sleep the first night.

Day two:
We got to see our first Eagle before we left camp. The Seagulls also came in that morning. Blisters on feet and chaffing were the topics today. We have never had major issues with this before and now three of us had issues on the second day of a hundred mile backpack. Not Good!

We made it to Smith Creek for the night. As we were making camp a deer hunter came to visit us. Four of them were hunting the field 100 yards from us. That is why we were in the orange. We got baths in the creek and another great campfire. We were entertained by a screech owl and the coyotes. The owl would screech and the coyotes would yelp. They sounded like hyenas so we figured the owl would wait until they got settled and then screech. The coyotes would laugh and say "you got us" and then they would do it all over again. All night long.

Day Three:
We woke up to a thunderous "CRACK". What the hell? I looked over and the fire was going. Greg had broke a branch off a fallen tree that made so much noise it scared him. Greg got up every morning and got a fire going. Then he would wake us up so we could get on the trail at daylight.

We took our lunch on Pisgah Bay. We had a nice beach, the sun was shining, and we were airing out the equipment. We set up our hammocks and got a nap in. Life was good!

From there we hiked to just short of Moss Creek Day use area and set up on the bay. Once again the Hooters and Screamers at night. Another evening of sitting around the campfire telling lies and taking cough medicine. Sometime after Troy had gone to bed he came bounding out flashing his light through the woods. He said he heard man size critters in the leaves. We looked around and decided it was probably a coyote.

Day Four:
Troy woke us up. You have about twenty minutes before the thunderstorm comes in. We got up and made sure everything was set up good. We ate breakfast and got the fire going good. We went back to bed as the rain started and the major storm blew by. The only casualty was Greg's sleeping bag got wet. He would spend the next two days trying to dry that out.

We got on the trial facing gentle Gail force winds as we walked the riverside. The trail had spots that felt like quicksand with the mud. When we dried out our stuff at lunch time, we could barely hold on to put them on the clothes lines because of the winds. We had to find shelter behind a fallen tree to eat our lunch. COLD!

We hiked the Canal Loop Trail around by the North Bridge. At break we argued about what day it was. My watch was off by one day. Troy pointed out that in a couple of days we would be starting our five day hike not counting the first five days.

We made camp just before Nickell Branch Backcountry Area. It was a misty and foggy night. Right at dusk some bikers went by. The first people we saw on the trail. The campfire would keep the mist off us but you got wet every time you went to the hammocks. I went for a swim in the bay. It felt good to get clean. In the fog I could almost hear the Jaw's music and the bell ringing on the buoy. Quick swim!

We listened to the owls and coyotes again. Marco and I stayed up late with our cough medicine talking. The moon was trying to shine through, but no luck.

Day Five:
It was a misty morning. We jumped up alot of deer today. We stopped by the North Welcome Station to check on the springs on the South end of the North/South trail. Not good news. They were dry. There were some hunters there that were camping in the area. We noticed as we were standing there in our shorts and short sleeves that they had long pants and heavy coats on. Must be Southerners.

We set up and dried out at lunch. Still overcast and Greg was still trying to dry out that sleeping bag. We made camp at the far end of Pisgah Bay. We had a good fire and it was dry enough to clean some clothes. That night some hikers came down the trial as we were going down for the night. Two had headlamps on and I could see the backpacks. They were hunters coming in for the night. Marco said that he saw four hikers. I told him that he was drunk. We teased each other for the night.

Day Six:
Greg had gotten up in the middle of the night as his wet sleeping bag had let him down. He got the fire going to warm up. Marco got up with him thinking it was morning. After some time he asked Greg what time it was. He said three thirty. What??? They both went back to bed.

The next morning as we headed out we passed a tent with three backpacks next to it. The Hunters were by the lake trying to warm up around a fire. Another hunter with a backpack was on the trail. I guess I was the drunk last night. I did not see the other two hikers which did not have headlamps on.

We had a great day to dry up equipment today. Greg's bag finally dried out. We were going to set up camp by Sugar Bay camping area. It was packed full of hunters. They had cases of beer and the foam shooting targets. We decided to move on and made camp at Higgins Bay. There was a small house boat in the bay and two campers on the other side of the bay. We spent the night listening to the owls and coyotes.

Day Seven:
The two campers across the bay had been singing Marine songs, so first thing in the morning Greg went to visit them. He found out that they were Army aircraft mechanics. They were having a very cold morning. Their gear had gotten wet during the night and they were shivering. One had spaghettio stains on the shirt where his can had blown up on the fire. We heard the screaming last night.

We passed some bike riders on the trail. The first one put his hand out like he wanted a high five? Greg wasn't sure what to think about that and when he passed me I was thinking, that would be stupid.

We passed an older gentleman that we had seen on the trail up North. This time he had his dog in his backpack. He was 81 years old and he was section hiking the trail. He had his wife with him this time. He had been doing twenty two miles a day. WOW! He is the man.

Now the challenge for the trip. I had to get the guys past the car. We got to the car to resupply and all was well. We saw another ranger and he too said that the springs on the South side were dry. Our plans had to change. We went and got the car from the South Welcome station and brought it up to Golden Pond. We needed twenty seven point six miles. It was fourteen miles to Sugar Bay. We headed out.

We set up camp around Bush Arbor Camp. We were just about out of food when we made it to the car. Now we were all overweight with too much food for this part. Troy popped out the first surprise, apple rice pudding for all. We did the owl coyote thing again and just added deer. There were some headlights out in the woods off a distance. We figured that it must have been some hunters gutting a deer.

Day Eight:
We got up and on the trail. We were headed for Sugar Bay. I told Greg when we got to where we ate lunch yesterday, stop and get my clothes line. I forgot it. We also agreed to stop at the spring that we got water at the day before.

We took lunch at Higgins Bay. This is where Troy broke out the second surprise and made brownie's on the trial. He is the man! Tessa had put the brownie's in the bag with a note for all.

After lunch Troy headed out saying he would see us in a while. When we got packed up Greg headed out after him. Greg is always in the front! Marco and I caught up with Greg his head hanging low. He couldn't catch up to Troy and had to quit. We found Troy at Sugar Bay laying on a bench waiting for us. Greg had to pay him homage as he was the hiking king. We had a celebration at this point because now all we had to do is hike back to the car. We had done it.

We hiked back to Higgins Bay, where we took a break. I said it would sure feel good to go swimming, when I heard the splash. Troy was in. Before long we were all in. Only sixty degree water, so we cooled off fast. We decided to stay here the night and hike out in the morning. Another peaceful night of Hooters and Screamers. We never did find that spring we were looking for.

Day Nine:
This was it. We hiked out and completed One Hundred and One miles of trail. We stopped by the last campsite and picked up Marco's stakes for his hammock on the way.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Long Hunter VI


Long Hunter...........Trail Rating......Outcasts Total: 1118.04Miles
Volunteer Trail...6.0 Miles.........Easy
Day Loop............2.0Miles..........Easy
Volunteer Trail...6.0Miles..........Easy
Day Loop............2.0Miles..........Easy
Total………………16.0 Miles

We have started again! We did our usual pilgrimage to Long Hunter State Park as our first hike of the season. This is the start of our Sixth year of hiking together. Our partner Greg couldn't make it this year as he had scheduling conflicts.

This wasn't much of a warm up since our next hike is 100 miles at Land Between the Lakes. There was talk of the weather being this warm on that hike.....yea right! We were a little off this year as we are not used to hiking without the freezing rain and snow. Kinda like a culture shock.

We left straight from work and headed to the park. We were laughing about our pack weights and being so light with the lack of cold weather gear. There was one camper on the trail, they told us when we signed in. Troy whipped out the famous fried chicken and handed each of us a half a bird. We headed out down the trail looking through tears of happiness.

We had some great weather for walking and we got to see a lot of deer. Lots of different birds too. We saw one lady walking her dogs on the day loop and then passed our camper on the overnight trail. He was a Hero who hikes back and forth during the day and sometimes stays out here a week at a time. He didn't have any campfires and lived off the wild. I added that "Live off the wild myself." Sounds even better. He didn't know if he would be back tonight or not. OK?

We set up camp and gathered firewood. I set up my hammock and while I was checking it out something happened. I woke up an hour later thinking "WOW" I slept through the day. The guys had taken naps as well.

We got up and made some dinner. After dinner Marco and I head out to film the sunset. On the way back we thought that the camp had caught fire. Troy had a fire with flames four feet tall. We had to move the sitting log back four feet to keep from getting burned. He said he was sorry, just used to having to make a fire for survival.

That evening we sat around the fire telling lies and taking cough medicine. The stars were shining and the moon glowing over the lake. That night we heard an owl getting some dogs tore up.

We got up the next morning and hung around camp just soaking it up. Then we packed up and headed down the trail. We didn't see anyone until we got to the day loop. Then we saw lots of walkers. We even were entertained by two ladies in bikinis that were washing their boat out in the lake. We are just men.

When we got back to the trailhead there was a lady getting her pack ready to go. I told her that she was late, but we did leave her some firewood. The Ranger pulled in and got after another lady about not having her dog on a leash. It was amazing how it turned out to be his fault. Women have a way of doing that. She kinda made me proud. He stopped and talked to us after that and we thanked him for the job he does and how nice the park is. We told him that we were on his side.

Another great hike starting another great hiking season full of adventure.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mt. LeConte


Appalachian trail 2.7 miles................................Outcast Total:1102.04 Miles Boulevard trail 5.4 miles
Day One 8.1 Miles
Boulevard trail 0.6
Rainbow Falls trail 0.5
Bull Head trail 5.9
Old Sugarlands trail 4.1
Day Two 11.1 Miles

At 6,593 feet elevation, Mount LeConte is the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This would be Marco's first hike here and my third.

Marco and I headed out after work to the Smoky Mountains. We stopped at the Ponderosa for lunch. Dad couldn't make this hike so he took us up to Newfound Gap and dropped us off at the trail head for the Appalachian trail. We dropped off the Outcastmobile at Sugarlands Visitor center on the way.

There were a lot of people at New Found Gap. You get a lot of day hikers that go to Charlie's Bunion and most of the people are just there to look at the view. We did meet a through hiker, trail name 501, on the trail that was on his nineteenth day heading for Maine. Mainly we were discussing different foods to take on the trail with him.

We hiked the AT to the Boulevard trail. Once on the Boulevard we saw no more people. The Boulevard trail is a trail full of wonderful views of the Smoky's. It curves just enough that you can see Mt. LeConte most of the way there. We stopped at one of the viewing places to have a snack and just take a break. This trail has lots of ups and downs as you follow the ridge line towards Mt. LeConte.

Marco stopped at one point and asked if I saw that. I asked him what and he said that it was either a bird or a lizard............. I ponder that thought. Later on when we saw a turkey crossing the trail and he asked me if I saw it, I said yes, but it could have been a lizard. I thought that he would feel better if I put it that way. We got a good laugh about that.

We had gotten dropped off around 2:30 and when we arrived at the shelter it was around 7:00. We thought it strange that we were the only ones there. We claimed our bunks and hung our packs. We took our water bag to the LeConte lodge to fetch some water. We talked to some guests there and they said that it was now $120 per person to stay there. From there we hiked up to the cliff top where people go to see the sun set over the mountains. We visited with some guests here as well. After that we headed back to the shelter.

When we arrived at the shelter there were two other fellow there. One was from Nashville and the other Memphis. This was their first backpacking trip and they came up the Alum Cave Trail which is a 5 mile trail. They had gotten on the trail at 10:30 and just gotten to the shelter. We had a good evening of visiting with them, eating dinner, and watching the stars. No campfires are allowed on Mt. LeConte. Of course someone screwed up so they had to make that a rule....people!

The wind picked up over night and we had some wind gusts that blew against the tarp so hard that it woke us all up a few times.

The next morning we got up and had breakfast. There were a few people that headed to Myrtle Point to see the sun rise. We got to see them as the trail runs right by the shelter. After breakfast we said goodbye to our new friends and headed toward the Bull Head trail.

The Bull Head trail was a steady downhill trail for us. The views were spetacular and the wild flowers abundant. We stopped and had a lunch on the way down. When we got to the bottom we took the Old Sugarlands trail, which is an old roadbed, back to the visitor center. There are alot of old rock fences and fireplaces in this area. We also got to see another wild turkey who put on a show for us, puffing out his chest and showing those tailfeathers. The last little bit we hiked along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. From the trailhead we hiked across the bridge and to the visitor center.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cooper Road- Smoky Mountains


Day One:6.5 Miles...............Outcast Total: 1082.84 Miles
Cooper Road Trail 5.5
Beard Cane Trail to campsite 11. 1.0
Day Two:9.0 Miles
Beard Cane Trail 1.0
Hatcher Mtn Trail 2.8
Abrams Fall Trail 4.2
Wet Bottoms Trail 1.0
Total Hike: 15.5 Miles

It was like something that we had not seen in a long time! It was something different. There was no snow, there was no ice, there was no rain, no storms, no tornado, no blizzard. It was like walking in a dream. We didn't have to break our candy bars and hold them in our mouths until they melted. We didn't have to dive right into setting up shelter and praying for fire. We didn't even have to break the ice to take a bath. What's up with that?

After work Marco and I headed to the Ponderosa to meet up with Dad. There we were served a three course lunch, given brownies, and sent out the door. We headed to Cades Cove. Our origal plan was changed as the Abrams Creek was higher than expected. Instead of going up Rabbit Creek Trail we reversed routes and took Abrams Falls trail out.

On our drive to the trailhead, we got to see turkey and deer in the cove. We got on the trail at 1:30. Cooper Road Trail is an old road bed that would take you all the way to Abrams campground if you stayed on it. It's an easy climb. When we got to the Beard Cane Trail junction we met a day hiker that had come from Abrams campground. We had a nice visit with him and his family has been hiking the Smoky's for generations.

We took Beard Cane trail to campsite #11 which is along the creek in rhododendron. The weather was cooling down with a strong breeze which made us put on pant legs and a windbreaker. We hung out around the fire and watched the stars. We didn't have to put tarps up so we slept under the stars. In the night a full moon lite up the woods like daylight.

The next morning we got up and headed out after breakfast. We took Beard Cane to Hatcher Mountain trail. We came across a couple of turkeys and a Barred owl on the trail.

When we got to Abrams creek we took a break and enjoyed the view. From here we hiked to Abrams Falls where the traffic began. We ate lunch at the falls and visited with a few folks. From here all the way to the trailhead we met people. I figured that around 50% of them would not make it all the way to the falls.

As we went down Wet Bottoms Trail we somehow managed to get off the trail. I felt like Troy was with us as my Dad headed for the road and we road walked the rest of the way to the Van.

Wow, what beautiful weather!

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Savage Gulf- Connector Trail


Day One: 8.5....................................Outcast Hikers Total: 1067.34
Stone Door Trail 0.9
Big Creek Gulf Trail 0.9
Connector Trail 6.7
Day Two: 13.7
Connector Trail 6.7
Big Creek Gulf Trail 3.1
Ranger Falls Trail 1
Laurel Trail 2.9
Total Miles: 22.2

The original plan was a five day hike at Frozen Head State Park. Marco was recovering from a five day illness and Troy called in sick. With the bad planning on my part, I had scheduled a hike on Superbowl Sunday, we went with plan B.

Marco and I headed out Tuesday to Savage Gulf. There were some trails there that he had not hiked and I had never made it to Ranger Falls. We started at the Stone door ranger station and hiked down through the Stone Door and took the Connector trail East to Hobb's Cabin. The Connector trail is described as the most challenging and strenuous trail in the Savage Gulf Natural area. Several Climbs and seemingly endless rocky slopes are crossed.

The weather was great for hiking. They were calling for 3 to 4 inches of snow the next evening, but the sun was shining today. We kicked up two flocks of Turkey before we got to Saw Mill campground. At Saw Mill campground we stopped and had lunch. We made it to Hobb's Cabin and had plenty of time to search for firewood. The Ranger had said that last weekend they had thirty some people at Hobb's Cabin. The woods looked like they were vacuumed and we had to go a distance to find some wood. We got camp set up and the fire started in time to enjoy the evening and watch the stars come out. It got down to nineteen degrees that night.

The next morning we got up, had breakfast, and then started down the trail back to the Big Creek Gulf Trail. At Saw Mill campground we kicked up the two flocks of Turkey again. We ate lunch here and then headed out.

We got to the Big Creek Trail at one o'clock and headed to Ranger Falls. Big Creek Gulf Trail is described as this rough, challenging trail leads through the gorge below and to the west of Stone Door. Due to its difficulty, an overnight hike is recommended, although it can make a long, tiring but rewarding day hike.

I couldn't get across the river last time I was here. The river was down so we rock hopped across and got to see the falls. It was cold here and the trees all had ice on them. We stopped for a snack and then headed up the gulf to Alum campground.

When we got to the campground our original plan was to camp. Instead we filled up on water and headed to the car down the Laurel Trail. It started to snow on our hike out. Knowing they were calling for three to four inches we decided to head home and not have to drive through the snow tomorrow.



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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sheltowee Trace Part VIII- The Finally



Day one: 5.5 Miles....................................Outcasts Total: 1045.14
Day two: 9.9 Miles
Day three: 10.65 Miles
Day four: 11.63 Miles
Total: 37.68 Miles

As usual we dug up some wild weather for our backpack. Since this was the last part of the Sheltowee Trace and we have so much time invested in this trail, we dug up a whopper! The snowstorm that shut down the South! What a beginning.

We started the morning with four inches of snow in Murfreesboro. As we were finishing up our shift, we were watching the news as first schools were closing and then roads were closing. As we all gathered at Headquarters they were shutting down I 75 and I 40. We only had to make it to Kentucky.

I took the broom to Troy's car and we made the final decision to go or bust. The interstates were closed, but the back roads were open.....kind of?

We headed off to Cave Run Marina where we planned on meeting Doug and he was going to drop us off at the Cave Run dam where we left off last hike.

Doug was extremely helpful as were all of his employee's at the Marina. He had heads up on our last hike and drove over to the dam to make sure we got picked up safely. He offered to let us leave our car at the marina and he dropped it off at the trail head the day we were coming off trail. Not only that, but he sent us weather reports and checked up on us by text messaging during our hike. We appreciate you Doug!

After Doug dropped us off we hiked down Ky 801 and got back on a trail in the woods. The whole North end is large rolling hills. It's amazing that they found connecting ridge tops to put this trail on. We got to watch two does and a buck follow each other up the hill side from a hill away during one break. We camped just South of US-60 in the woods before Triplet Creek.

I had to use a large rock to break a hole in the ice which was almost 2" thick to get water out of the creek. We got a campfire going and enjoyed the peaceful evening. It snowed.......and snowed....and snowed.....it snowed for the next three days.

Day two:
We got up this morning and just as we were leaving camp, two hikers came down the trail. One was a thru hiker, the other a section hiker and they were both locals. They were getting off the trail due to the snow storms coming. They caught their ride at 60 and we said goodbye. Then the battle was on.

We battled cars and snow plows hiking down US-60, KY 3319, and KY 32. We had seven miles of road and the snow was coming down big time. The fourth snow plow just about buried me and Marco as we ran for the Hardee's which was our last water source for the next 13.6 miles. Since it just happened to be lunch time we ate and answered questions from all the employee's and costumers there.

From here we hike down KY32 to a washout in a rock wall. Yes you climb the washout until you find some 4x4's which keep the trial on the side of the washout. Just for fun, try this in snow and ice......ya, and then add a backpack! The trail here is narrow following the hillside with trees fallen all over it. The next half mile is in bad shape. After that it turns into a four wheeler path and gets alot better. We went up and down and up and down and then when you couldn't get anymore higher we made camp. The only flat spot in the area is where the Eagle trail joins the Sheltowee. Somewhere on one of the downs, Marco landed on his butt. All I knew was that I couldn't catch up to him as he skidded off down the trail. He had some minor injuries and a bent hiking pole when it was over. I was really glad that he stopped.

With the snow falling fast and the high winds, we called it an early night with no campfire.

Day three:
We got up an saw where a coyote had walked by camp in the snow. We had plenty of fresh snow to plow through today. The trail turned into forestry roads and we got to walk them for seven miles. If you had to get water, there is a side trail to Rodburn Campground that is a mile off trail that has water.

Towards the end of the road walk we came across two young men cutting wood and loading it in a pick up truck. They took one look at us and said "Your alot tougher that we are!" We stopped and talked to them for little while. When they passed us a little later they stopped and asked us what kind of boots we were wearing cause their feet were wet and cold.

We finally got off those roads, crossed US-64 and got into some real snow. It was over six inches in this part of the woods. Drifts over Marco's knees or 12". We had a steep drop off into the valley and followed the stream bed until it got deep enough for our water supply and we made camp. This area here could use some bridges as you cross over the creek many times and on steep slopes.

Now I don't know how, but we had stronger wind gusts down here than we had on top of the mountain last night. It pulled Marco's stakes from his tarp out four times. It was uphill every direction that you looked. It was too windy and the snow was coming down too hard to make a campfire. Troy accused me of walking them too hard. He said Marco couldn't even eat dinner and I literally walked the sh-- out of him.

Day four:
We had 11.6 miles to go. Doug had sent me a text letting us know that it was going to be 7 degrees tonight. A vote was taken.....or Troy said that we WILL make the car tonight even if we night hike! So we uhh hiked! And we hiked hard! God had mercy on us. The wind and the snow both stopped or at least slowed down for the day.

We had camped just short of Holly Fork. So over the river and through the woods we went. The climb out of the valley is a steep one. Next you drop down into another valley. We stopped at Clark Park and filled up with water at the well pump. The climb out of there will work those legs as you go back up to the ridge. We kicked up two grouse and a flock of turkeys as we were hiking along.

We only stopped a minute when we came upon two "No Trespassing" signs. One on either side of the trail at mm 275.45. There was a small side trail, but after some investigating we found that the trail goes on. There is another sign at mm 275.73 from the other direction. Must be some bad neighbors. We hiked into the sunset and after dark made the descent down to the Northern Terminus. We had to stop at the bottom and try to climb through a fallen tree just to make sure we earned this trail.

Doug had left our car there so we did the celebration dinner and stayed the night at the hotel.

Murfreesboro must have had about the same strength wind as we did. When we got back, Marco's truck and my car had blown against the block back porch of Headquarters sideways where you couldn't get into the driver side doors. Ain't that weird?

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