Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big Hill Pond II

Day One:5 Miles.....................Outcast Total: 957 Miles
Big Hill Pond Access trail
Big Hill Pond trail
Azalea Spring Day Loop trail
Dogwood Point trail
Day Two: 10 Miles
Dogwood Point trail
Azalea Spring Day Loop trail
Boardwalk trail
Horse Trail
Dry Ridge trail
Total: 15 Miles

Marco, Troy, and I headed out to Big Hill Pond State Park. Marco had to stay late at work trying to get his Engine back in service after a Semi fire on the interstate, so we got a late start.

We swung by the Visitor Center to sign in. Just like last time, the Ranger said that all he needed was to know is what truck was ours so when he did rounds he would recognize it. No paperwork necessary.

We headed to the boat ramp and parked in the overnight lot. We got out and while we were organizing our packs Marco found a large rock that a fellow firefighter had hid in his pack. The firefighter had committed about his pack being heavy and Marco thought that he was up to something.

We went down to the boat ramp and then hiked across the bridge. On the other side we started to come across horse back riders and we saw plenty of them until we got to the Azalea Loop. One group had stopped and the one rider asked if we were going to stay out here tonight. He had that look that we are so used to. The "are you crazy?" look. "You know its going to get cold tonight." We've heard this sooooo many times.

The trail was marked pretty good and in decent condition until you get to the pond. From the pond there is many trees down and the horses have made other trails and the marking is bad. The Azalea Loop needs alot of maintenance including the bridges. When you get to the Dogwood Point trail you are on your own. It was in bad need of maintenance two years ago. Now it is two years past needing alot of maintenance.

We were running out of daylight so we called camp at the Pipe Rock shelter. This shelter sits at the top of a very steep hill which the river is at the bottom of. The shelter of course was in poor shape, but the bat population was going strong. There was bat dung on all the bunks and all over the floor. There was a dead bat on one of the bunks and two live bats on the ceiling. Oh yea, we didn't stay in the shelter.

We had a nice campfire and enjoyed the owls talking and the peaceful sounds of the train whistle when it went by. The stars were out and it was suppose to get down to freezing tonight. We had cough medicine and cleaned up scars from the brush we battled on the trail.

The next morning after a good breakfast by the campfire, we headed out and finished the Dogwood Point trail. We took the Azalea trail to the boardwalk trail. You could see where they had been repairing the boardwalk.

We stopped at the break area on the boardwalk for lunch. Just after settling down, Troy let out a damn. His water bottle had rolled off the bench and off the boardwalk. Just like a superhero, he climbed over the rail and hugging a tree he slid down like a fireman on a pole. He grabbed his bottle and climbed back up the boardwalk before I could even get my camera ready.

After lunch we headed to the end of the boardwalk where the light drizzle started. We practiced our single man poncho deployment skills and headed to the tower. Do to the rain and limited visibility, we skipped the tower climb and headed down the horse tail to the Dry Ridge trail.

The rain had stopped as we continued our hike. The last couple of fingers on the Northwest side of the lake would be a good place for a bridge. As before, no changes had been made in the last two years and you are still balancing on tree branches crossing over water and mud.

On the North end of the lake where the trail crosses, it is mainly swamp. There is a variety of makeshift bridges in this area. One is actually just under the water level. It makes you wonder how a park that has a boardwalk over a mile long over a swamp wouldn't be able to make a couple of short bridges.

We made it back to the truck and celebrated later at a Waffle House.


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