Friday, December 18, 2009

Shaltowee Part II

Trail........................................................Outcast Total: 740.7
Day One: 5 miles
Day Two: 10.6 miles
Day Three: 8.3 miles
Day Four: 7.5 miles
Day Five: 4.5 miles
Total: 35.9 miles

In attendance were Troy, Shadow, Marco, and I. After shift we headed to Troy’s house where we loaded up in Troy’s car and headed to the trailhead on Hwy 27. It had rained all night and we had gotten soaked on the fire runs during the night which had us worried about the weather. We drove up in a light rain, which turned to a fog mist by the time we got to the trailhead. Needless to say, water source was not a problem on this hike.

The first section of the trail was mainly ups and downs with a lot of rock cropping along the Railroad Fork of Indian Creek. We had one deep river crossing at road 679. We ran out of daylight by the time we reached road 678 going to the 4H camp. So we camped there for the night. Not a good camping site, just one of those times you have to make due. The trail was detoured at this area due to a wash out. We had to do a little wood drying after we got the fire going, but the stars were out and it turned into a wonderful evening.

The next morning we got on the trail by 8am and headed out. There is a major climb going up to 700 and there is no marking saying that is where you are. The side road is labeled as Catsron, which is road 6050 on the map. We crossed road 700 and ate lunch down by the creek. The trail here is old roadbed.

The trail climbs back up to road 700 and then its time for some road hiking. The next couple of miles is blacktop where you go down to Indian Creek and up to Road 6239, which starts out as paved and ends up a washed out dirt road at the Cumberland River.

Where 700 and 6239 cross, we stopped for a break. There was a gate there with a 4x8 sheet of plywood next to it. On the plywood was painted “If the gate is closed your not welcome.” Well, as we were standing there an old Willie Jeep pulled up and a man got out to unlock the gate. Troy and I walked up to him to ask about road 6239. He was a middle aged scruffy looking guy that kept an eye on Troy and an eye on me even though we were four feet apart. He was a nice enough fellow and after talking awhile, he invited us to stay at his camp that he had set up on the Cumberland River. He even told us a short cut to follow to get there. Troy and I thought “NO!”

We hiked down to the Cumberland River where the river was running extremely fast and was that good old brown color. Trash was piled on either side as the river had carried it down with all its power. When we got to Pitch branch, where we had previously picked on the map to stay, we came across “scruffy's camp.” There was a tent pitched and a blue tarp next to it. There were coolers, empty fuel cans, stoves, chairs, and clothes spread everywhere. There was a tree with pots and pans hanging from it and a sign referring to our man as “You son of _______, why don’t you stop by some time. You know who this is!” We hiked on! The trail turned into a dirt road, so we hiked to the end of the road and then some, to make sure that we didn’t get any visitors. We hiked past the last branch on the map and set up camp in the dark.

We got a fire going and ate some dinner. It started to sprinkle so we put on our jackets. It stopped so we took them off. It started to sprinkle so we put on our jackets. It stopped so we took them off. It started to sprinkle so we put on our jackets. It stopped so we kept our jackets on.

We heard dogs barking from down the river. The echo off the river made it sound louder. After a while, Troy says someone is coming and we see the headlamps on the trail. The lights disappear so we spread out. It’s a while before we see the lights again and then once again they disappear. So we knock down the fire and spread out again. Finally the lights come on and head toward our camp. Troy yells to them as they approach and the two hunters came into camp.

The hunters told us that they were looking for their dogs. They were out coon hunting and the dogs got away. Both guys were carrying 30-30’s and that wasn’t coon-dogs that we heard. We talked to them for a while and then they headed down the trail. I told them that their dog’s had not passed us and there was a bluff wall on one side with the river on the other. They walked down the trail a short distance and then came back. They hollered before they came back through camp and then headed back to where they came from. A short while later we heard the dogs bark again and heard the hunters yelling. We never heard anything after that. We then drank some cough medicine and called it a night.

The next morning we were entertained by a couple of white ducks on the river. It was flowing so fast and those ducks would dive under, come up down stream and then fly back to where they started to do it all over again. They did this until we left camp. I know they were tired and could picture them lying on their backs on the riverbank panting after we left.

We hiked up to Hwy 90 and crossed the bridge to Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. Two things stuck right out in our minds. One, the bathhouse had hot water. It is amazing what a hiker can do in a sink. The second thing was after seeing an ice cream sign it was lunchtime. The visitor center was open and after the let down that they didn’t have any ice cream this time of year. They told us about the lodge on the mountain that served lunch. Would the guys hike up the mountain for a lunch? The guys whistled as we all hiked up the mountain to indulge.

After an all you can eat buffet, I needed a come-a-long and winch to get them out of that lodge. The wateress brought two to go boxes and put them on the table. Marco asked what those were for and of course Troy and I told him that we bought us dinner to take with us. Marco couldn't believe that we would do that. Actually it was a loaded bacon cheese burger and fries for Shadow. Yes, she gets the same treatment that we get. She is an Outcast you know. Needless to say we lost two hours of trail time and we felt like swollen ticks as we rolled, or hiked back down to the river.

The Cumberland falls were beautiful and powerful which turned out to be some good pictures. This is where we got our first warning sign that the Bark Camp creek bridge was out and the crossing was hazardous. It didn’t say closed so we headed on. Our new goal was the Star Creek shelter. This section of the trail is all up and down along the riverbank. There is a lot of rock hopping and climbing. There is some kind of water crossing about every hundred yards through here. There is no phone service from Cumberland park until you get out of the river gorge at Mouth of Laurel boat ramp.

Right before we got to Star Creek, it looked like someone just dropped a huge pile of trees around the trail. It must have been some serious wind damage and it must have taken a long time and a lot of man power to cut the trail through this maze after the damage occurred. Right next to the trail with trees lay all around it, was the Star Creek Shelter. There was a tent set up in it with all sorts of supplies lying around. We didn’t find the people staying there so we hiked across the creek and stayed in the grass field on the other side. There is a beautiful water fall here that we got pictures of. We set up camp and started a fire, as it was getting cold and then ate dinner. Some cough medicine was taken and lies told around the fire as the temperature dropped into the twenties. Later on that night we saw headlamps across the creek where our neighbors must have come home.

We hit the trail that morning wondering what we were getting ourselves into with the bridge being out. We had enough days to hike back out if we needed to.

There were more ups and downs along the river that day. The Bark Camp shelter sets up off the river a bit and then as you round the corner you hear the fast moving water of the Bark Camp creek. It is a large creek with lots of large boulders in it. When we arrived at the cascades, you could actually wade it with no problem. It was a good day for this, as the temperature never got up to freezing. It kind of makes you tougher. We hiked another hour and then stopped for lunch. We had kicked up two flocks of turkeys that day so far.

It was kind of neat after you listen to the loud noise of the Cumberland River and then hike around a bend and it lies so peacefully that you could hear a mouse fart. We passed a swampy area where the ducks were lounging around and batches of small trees were growing like someone had a tree farm there.

We hiked up to road 1277, which is paved. We then followed that to Mouth of the Laurel boat ramp. There is an outhouse here. Marco can’t pass an outhouse.

From here you hike straight up out of the river gorge. You could see the clear water of the Laurel River mix with the dirty water of the Cumberland. It is strenuous. After you get out of the gorge, you hike an old roadbed through the woods over to the Laurel River Lake Dam. We stopped at a campsite on a creek in an evergreen grove just before you get to the dam. This turned out to be our coldest night so Troy put the magic in the campfire. We ate, took cough medicine and told lies. The last night on the trail and life was good.

The next morning after getting everything unthawed, including ourselves, we headed out. We made plans on meeting my parents at the Marina on Laurel River Lake. We hiked across the dam and took the trail around the lake. The trail is gravel all the way around and it is a beautiful park. When we got to where we could see the Marina we followed the lake trail around to it instead of hiking up across the road.

The Holly Bay Marina,, is a really nice and clean place. The manager Randy is a super guy and not only let us stay in the warmth but he also made a fresh pot of coffee for us. Randy also offered a parking spot to use when we are hiking the trail. In the summer time they cook all sorts of food and in the winter they have pizza. Check them out and make sure you stop by when your hiking, if nothing else, to say hi.

Just to let you know, there are two marinas on the lake. Only the Holly Bay shows up on the Sheltowee Trace map. Mom and Dad found the only other one. As we waited on them at Holly Bay, they were waiting at the other one. Finally after asking enough questions, I figured out what happened and called the other marina to locate my parents.

On the way back, we stopped by the Cumberland Falls Resort Park again to show my parents the falls. After we ate lunch and my folks went home, we stopped by the ranger station on 27 to see what they had for information. After we found out that we knew more than they did, we got the opportunity to meet a real live archaeologist to ask him a couple of questions. We wanted to know the difference between an Indian rock house and an overhang. We also wanted to know the difference between an arch and a natural bridge. We found out what four years of college will teach you. They are the same thing with different terminology. ????????????? I was not impressed.


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