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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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