Sunday, March 9, 2008

Land Between the Lakes, South end

Trail...............,,....Miles..........Rating................Outcasts Total: 268.5
North/South Trail...29.7.........Easy
Day One..............1.5
Day Two.............12
Day Three...........11.2
Day Four.............5

Marco, Troy, and Craig made this trip. We got off work Wednesday morning. I had a class in Nashville and wouldn't be able to make it to the Park before 8:00pm. Troy and Marco headed out that afternoon and set up camp about a half mile down the trail from the Golden Pond visitor center. Marco had taken my hammock and tarp and set them up for me as well. I called them when I got in the area and they met me at the car. We took Troy's car down and left it at the South visitor station then took my truck back up North. If you ever drive down the Trace at night, the entire length is covered with deer. Be careful as someone had hit one this night.

The original plan was to have Marco stay with the fire and Troy and I would move cars. Marco wasn't going with that. He wasn't going to be left in camp by himself for a couple of hours. We hiked in, got the fire started, and settled down for the evening. This was suppose to be the warmest of the nights on the trail.

We got on the trail Thursday morning at 8am. The weather was cool so no shorts or tee shirts today. Most of the North/South trail on the southern end is old road bed. They had gotten a lot of rain recently so water and mud was plentiful. Just out of camp was our first water crossing. We had joked back and forth about the weather and one of the things that we figured out was that the weathermen watch this blog. When we are hiking they just throw up their hands and give up. Can't predict the weather when we are on the trail. We pack for everything and got to use it.

We made it to North of the Walker Line trail where the trace meets the trail at lunch time. About 2:30pm we passed the Cedar Pond area. I couldn't remember there being any water after the trail crosses the Trace so we stopped at the last water source shown on the map. Whenever you hike the Land Between the Lakes, make sure you take two maps. You want the Hike & Bike Trail Map and the USDA Public Access Roads and Hunt Area map. Between the two you can figure out what's going on and where you are located. Well anyway, Marco was having some feet problems and we told him to let us know when he had enough and we would stop for camp. He was now carrying about six liters, I was carrying about seven, and Troy had a gallon jug plus. Well we crossed the trace and stopped just before the wind damaged section of the trail. Marco said keep going. We went through the wind damage and Marco said keep going. We finally made camp at the hill before the Prospector's place which had a spring. We had carried our water about three miles.

Tonight the wood was drier so the fire got going alot better. Marco ate and went to bed. Troy and I stayed up telling lies for most the night. Some time early in the morning we got a little sleet.

Got on the trail Friday morning at 9am. We had a lot of laughs as we passed the Prospector's Place and spring. We decided for now on we will send a scout out when we stop to make camp. There is always water just past where we set up at. We stopped at road 211 and Marco wanted to do a group shot. He set up the camera and it flashed. When he got back to the camera to check the picture he said that he wasn't in the picture. There was just a space were he was. Then it dawned on him that the picture was gone and it was showing Troy and I waiting there for him. We might of had to laugh for a while on that one. The last water crossing on the South end of the North/South trial was just past the road.

We stopped at Iron Mountain Camp for lunch. There is a ranger building and fire tower here with a water hydrant which they advertise on a sign. It just happen not to be turned on today. It started to sleet so we sat in the shelter for lunch. Their shelters are half a culvert with plywood on the back and gravel on the ground. This is where Troy tested the half size zip lock bag to cook in. Not good! After he poured his hot water in the bag he zipped the lock and all of his food went out the end of the bag. Note to everyone, when you do zip lock cooking, make sure you have a freezer bag.

Since the sleet didn't let up I checked the radar and it showed snow was coming and a major storm at the bottom. I also received a text from Jason saying they were expecting around six inches. Troy made the suggestion of staying at the shelter until the storm came through. I told Troy, the major storm was two states away. Troy said there was no way a storm could make it to us when it was two states away was there? I told him how real men do it and off we went.

We had to put on poncho's before we got to Brier Rose Branch Spring where we filled up with water. The sleet was heavier and soon the snow began. We pushed on until we were about five miles from the car and it was 3:30pm. We set up camp in a pine thicket and quickly collected fire wood while we could still see it. By the time we got the fire going well the snow was just soaking us. We gave up and went under tarp. It was a wet sticky snow which we had to hit the side of our tarps to get it to fall off. This became a ritual that lasted all night long. We cooked our dinners and yelled back and forth to each other. There was phone service here and everyone got told how stupid we were. Nothing that we haven't heard before.

That night I got the system down with every time I rolled over, I would reach up and bang my tarp. By morning the snow off my tarp reached almost to just even with my hammock on the ground. We got a good six inches of snow. Troy came over and asked what my plan was. He suggested just pack up and go. I said we should make a fire and get dried up some and eat. Everything that Troy had was soaked. I guess the mixture of snow on top, not enough ventilation, and wet clothes already added up to no good in his tent. We ate, packed up, and hit the trail by 9am.

It was beautiful hiking in the snow. A little more work and a few hidden under snow lakes to add to the challenge. The guys put me out front as the fall guy. I had one puddle that I stepped into that I went to looking for my floatation device. We saw lots of tracks in the snow of various critters and saw deer, squirrel, and turkeys.

After we hit the Bear Creek Loop and about a mile from the visitor station we came along a hiker that looked like he just stepped out of the hiker magazine. He was sporting name brand clothes, boots, and backpack. He had GPS, Cell phone, and number of gadgets that I am not familiar with. He stopped at the side of the trail and waited for us. We sized him up as a military man from Fort Hood. When we met I asked about him enjoying his snow hike. He said that he hasn't had the opportunity to hike in the snow and wanted to check it out. He asked if we were heading back in and I told him that we had been out for a few days and yes were heading to the car. A big surprised look came over his face as he asked again had we been out all night in the snow. Yes, we got three days of hiking in are you camping tonight? No, I'm just out for a five mile day hike. Oh, OK. We left him filling like the sissy he was.

When we got to the car it was buried in the snow. The only other car was one with Ft. Hood plates on it. We went to the visitor station which had a sign in the window stating that they would be closed Saturday due to the weather. That's what happens in the South when someone mentions snow. The Outcasts just go hiking.

This was Marco's first snow hike. He has been waiting since he heard about our snow hikes last year. This was also the groups first multi-state hike and we have completed the North/South trail. Troy says that we still have to do the whole trail in one hike. Always thinking ahead.



Ms Christy said...

Well the Outcast just got a new name and I think you know what it would be. Only one word comes to mind for the three of you guys. Normal people do not hike and sleep in a freezing winter storm. For the record, I don't blame poor little Shadow!! I heard she learned the meaning of cold the first day. LOL
Good job guys!! Now you really have a story to tell your grandchildren.

God Bless and Be Safe

Steve said...

When you're ready for real winter hiking, come on up to where we strap funny-looking boards to our feet to keep the snow from tickling our b***s! Sounds like you had some good laughs.


Millette Jones said...

Sounds like a cold but fun trip! Good pix, the ones of you hiking in the snow were especially nice.