Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Land Between the Lakes, North end

Land Between the Lakes, North end

North / South Trail………Rating…………….Miles…………Outcasts Total:224.3
Day one……………………….Easy……………………..7.2
Day Two…………………….Easy……………………11.6
Day Three……………………Easy……………………13.4
Day Four…………………….Easy…………………….2.6
Total Miles…………………………………………………..34.8

This is the first trip that all of the Outcasts made together this year. Troy, Greg, Marco and myself took time off together to make this an extended five day trip. We chose this trail because we weren't sure how many miles we would make over a five day period and this trail has a lot of roads that cross it encase we called it quits, someone gets hurt, or weather sets in. We started at the North end of the North / South trail and positioned a car at the Golden Pond visitor center. My Dad and I hiked the trail last fall so I had some idea about the terrain, water location, and what I felt that we could do as a group. When my Dad and I hike this last fall, the streams were all dry from the drought as well as most of the springs. This was not the case now.

We got off work that morning and I think everyone has some kind of errand to run before we met up and headed off. We stopped at the Cadiz exit and went into the Shell station. I was waiting for the guys to get though the line, when an elderly man came in the door and asked if I could help him. He said that he was going to St. Louis and wanted to know how to get there. I asked him which way he came from and he said Nashville. Well, I guess he screwed up in Nashville because that is where the highways divide. The cashier heard what he was saying and gave him a highway to head that way. When we left, we turned out of the drive and there was a car with Utah plates standing in the middle of the left and right turn lanes with a green light. I recognized the old man so we pulled up on the driver's side and pointed to the interstate and told him to go that way. He will never make it.

Around 11:00 we arrived at the Golden Pond visitor center where PAT tried to help us. Not the sharpest tack on the board. After he made up the other three permits on the guys it was my turn. I spelled my name out for him and when he asked if that was Murfreesboro TN or KY, I had to tell him that it was indeed the same state that the other three guys came from. The first one had my name misspelled and by the third permit printed for me I didn't even care that he misspelled Murfreesboro. He didn't have any answers for any of the guys' questions so we felt pretty good as we left. We drove around behind the visitor center and parked in the gravel parking lot. We loaded up the truck and headed north.

We finally got on the trail at 12:15. The temperature was in the 30's with a mild gale force wind blowing in from across the lake. We stopped an hour in on the trail and ate some lunch at an old house foundation. Not much wildlife out in this weather, but we did come across a dead mole which was around four inches long. The duck hunters were out in force as we heard the shooting all along the hike. One of the things I noticed was that the stream banks had rock beds. When my Dad and I hiked this trail there hadn't been any water in the streams and the beds were full of leaves. I guess when Jason hiked between these two hikes and said that all of the rivers to include the trail were full of water is when the leaves washed clear.

We made camp just past the South end of Pisgah Bay around 5:00. We had gotten a ways off the lake on purpose and Marco and I walked back to the lake to fetch two pails of water. The lake was shallow and it made water collection a challenge. We got camp made up and a fire started. This was supposed to be the coldest night calling for temps in the high 20's. Marco found a frozen salamander which he was quite proud of. We ate dinner to the sound of Coon hounds treeing a Coon. The hunter must not be very proficient at shooting as it took about twelve shots to get the Coon. After that we listened to the coyotes.

I woke up to the sound of every tree in the forest cracking. Oh, that was Troy getting the fire started. I stayed up a while after Troy went back to his tent. You could hear a Barge going down the river. Marco made the dreadful mistake of not putting any wood on the fire when he got up to use the bathroom. That is an Outcast rule. Greg had the fire going when he woke us up at 5:30. We knew that we would have to get on the trail early to make the miles that we wanted to make.

We got on the trail at 8:30. Crossing the river, which was about twenty yards from the camp, you couldn't help but notice it would have been a great water collection spot. We made Hatchery Hollow by lunch. We took an extended lunch and warmed up some soup. We did have a couple of guy's in a pickup truck stop and check on us while we ate. The 50's were never hit, but it did warm up enough to melt the trails and now we slipped through the mud. This is the mud that took our good hiking partner Greg. We were heading past Sugar Bay boat launch when Greg called it quits. After lunch he had slipped and aggravated a bad back. He was heavily chastised later for not letting us know when it happened. We hiked back to the boat launch and set up camp at the campground.

Our fire was at the camp ring, but we had to walk a ways out in the woods to put up the hammocks. Once again the coyotes entertained us with their calls. That night when we climbed in the hammocks frost had already formed on the inside of our tarps and on the sleeping bags. I guess around 2:00 I woke up with that good old cold feeling. Greg was already by the fire because his bag had failed him too. We got the fire warmed up enough to put on the long underwear while listening to the barge going down the river. Troy was the smart one and brought his 45-degree bag to slip over his winter bag. I saw the light on in his tent when I got up and by the time I came back to get my long underwear he was snoring quite loudly. Of course I would have brought mine if the weatherman had let us know. Actually the temperature was 30 when I checked. It just didn't take in the humidity.

When I couldn't stand it anymore I got up and got the fire going. After everyone got up Greg called the Ranger. We left out at 9:30 after the Ranger arrived. The Ranger took Greg to the North end and picked up the truck. He had lunch at Cracker Barrel and let us know that he would meet us at Dead Beaver Spring. We stopped for lunch at Buzzard Wing Spring and aired out our gear that was wet from frost this morning. We warmed up some water for tea. Marco decided then that he wouldn't mind being British and having tea every afternoon. Some of the biggest hills are just before Dead Beaver. We met Greg at the road where he gave us a breakfast feast, sodas, and candy bars. You should have seen old Marco get at that plate. Greg and I stood watching amazed at how he shoveled the food in. You would have thought that he hadn't eaten in a week.

After our meeting with Greg we headed out for Brush Arbor camp. After loading up with supplies, our packs weighed more now than the entire hike. This is the first place that we saw other hikers and they were day hikers. We arrived at 4:30 and ended up hiking back a half mile to water. We set up camp in a pine thicket with plenty of firewood. The storms held out until after we went to bed. Marco had a goal of finishing his hiking medicine before he went to bed and managed to tell me about fifty times that he had a buzz going. The weather was a lot warmer that evening because I was carrying Gregs bag for backup. Anyway, we all sleep well.

When I woke, I heard firewood cracking and the sound of rain on my tarp. I lifted my tarp and saw that Marco had a fire going and had gone back to bed. About the time that I got my breakfast cooked the rain had stopped and everyone came out to the fire. The rain held off until we got camp broke down and were ready to hike. Time to try out the new ponchos. It only took about 45 minutes to make the car from camp. With the rain setting in for the day we decided to call the hike over and head for the house. Congratualations to Troy and Marco for breaking their record on miles on a single hike.


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