March 9, Sunday
The first order of business here is to correct an error in Chapter 6. After writing it at Connie & Mike’s house, they invited us to spend Saturday and Sunday nights with them to save us the expense of a motel in Chillicothe. Again, how could we refuse. Their hospitality and friendship is part of what makes long distance hiking so special.
On Saturday night, we went to town with Connie and Mike and got a good tour of Chillicothe and saw the movie “The English Patient”. Today, we had our first much-needed day of rest from hiking. We slept in and awoke to the aroma of baking chocolate cake from Connie’s kitchen. We packed our food resupply into our backpacks, did laundry, wrote thank-you notes, and toured Seip Mound and the Mound City Group with Connie and Mike. Since we hadn’t seen a single person on the trail so far, it was nice being able to socialize a bit when in town. We also stopped at the Ohio Univ. Library and sent Chapter 6 of our journal to Pete for posting. Connie fixed a great Mexican dinner that we all enjoyed. Luckily, while we had our day off, the rains came again, but stopped by Monday morning.
March 10, Monday
Connie took us to work with her at the Londonderry P.O. and we resumed our hike from there at 7:30 am. We hiked through some open meadows for the first time which gave good views of the surrounding farmland. We crossed a major milestone, the Scioto River, which we could see had receded greatly from the flood the previous weekend. Much of our hike today was off-road and it seemed very difficult to us. Many sections were very steep, the trail was often soggy and muddy from last night’s rain, and we had to improvise on 3 stream crossings, mostly by doing a balancing act on incidental logs that had fallen across the stream. We camped in a beautiful site at the west end of Stewart Lake. We used the water filter for the first time tonight, as we had always been able to get water from houses previously.
March 11, Tuesday
The first part of the day we hiked on trails until we left the Scioto Trails State Forest. Then, we had around 12 miles of roadwalk which made for a fairly easy day, although Laurie’s leg is bothering her and could possibly be shinsplints. This condition can be aggravated by walking on pavement. We stopped at Mapleberry Farms and bought popcorn balls made with maple syrup. While talking with the owner, she offered to let us camp on land they owned about 6 miles away that was right on the trail and that was exactly at the distance we planned to cover for the day. When we arrived there, the land was very hilly, wet, and there were many junked cars lying around. Instead of pitching our tent, we ended up camping on the floor of a junked schoolbus that had the seats stripped out of it. Laurie felt that we had sunk to a new low in accommodations.
March 12, Wednesday
We were off to our earliest start today at 7:20 because we knew that most of today’s 15 mile hike was off-road. We stopped at the Pike Lake State Park office where the people were friendly and helpful, refilling water bottles, offering coffee, and supplying us with a needed half roll of toilet paper. The trails in the Pike Lake area are some of the best constructed trail we’ve seen so far and there were switchbacks, dug sidehill, and even a few waterbars. We ended the day by camping near the Pike Forest headquarters on a hill above enormous Kincaid Spring, which feeds a nearby fish hatchery. This is another way the Buckeye Trail is different from the A.T., springs are almost non-existent on the trail. This is only the second true spring we have come across.
Our days are simple. We are awake by 6:30 am, and eat cold granola cereal with powdered milk and water while still in our sleeping bags. As soon as we break camp, we hit the trail. At night, we try to be at our campsite by 4 pm. Within 2 hours, we have set up the tent, put in the thermarest pads and sleeping bags, stowed our gear, gotten our water, washed up, made dinner, washed dishes, written in the journal, and are ready to climb into bed for the night. We seem to have little energy for anything else and look forward to totally warming our bodies in the sleeping bags and to our 12 hours of “sleep”. Due to sleeping on the ground and with frequent repositioning, we feel this translates to perhaps 8 or 9 hours of real sleep. We had expected hiking the BT to be easier than hiking the AT because of the lower elevations, but the continuous ups and downs take their toll.
March 13, Thursday
Today was again mostly trails. The first climb was really nice but the section along a ridge was overgrown with briars which turned our bare legs bloody with scratches. Bill says “better a few scratches than tearing our goretex pants!”. In Fort Hill Memorial Park we took the Gorge Trail due to high water and were rewarded with views of large limestone rock outcroppings along the stream. We saw our first wildflowers in the park, hepatica, and some bloodroot not quite opened yet. As soon as we left the park, the land appeared to level out as we hiked the remaining two miles into the town of Sinking Spring. This is the first town since Chesterhill that is directly on the trail. There, a Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources employee stopped his truck in order to shake the hands of some real “thru- hikers”. We figure our appearance gave us away. He offered us a ride to a nearby conference center where we rented a cabin since the rain had started again. Laurie continues to battle the pain of shinsplints.
March 14, Friday
Patty at the Woodland Altars couldn’t be more accommodating. She agreed to drive us to the trail this morning and pick us up after our day of hiking so that we could “slackpack” or hike without our backpacks. Bill arranged this to make it easier on Laurie’s leg. (Part of his kinder, gentler style, Bruce!) With this approach we were able to hike 18 miles, all of which were on roads. We visited Serpent Mound, an ancient Indian effigy mound over 1000 feet long. We got there shortly before the 10 am opening time to find the manager walking around the parking lot in the rain, picking up the earthworms to rescue them. The rains stopped by late morning and the temperature dropped, but it was a pleasant day for hiking. We stopped in Janie’s Village Restaurant in Peebles for a late second lunch of cheeseburger, onion rings, cole slaw, and hot chocolate. We then returned to our cabin at Woodland Altars. This conference and environmental education center is on 450 acres of woods and includes a lodge, cabins, and outdoor programs.
March 15, Saturday
Patty at Woodland Altars gave us a lift to route 32 and Portsmouth Road, where we ended yesterday’s hike. The temperature had dropped 30 degrees and there were snow flurries. We again hiked without backpacks and only had 6 miles to go. We missed a turn at the top of Tolle Hill and stomped around for a while before we found it again. The hike through the Davis Memorial Nature Preserve included some boardwalk and interesting trail. Paul, who would shuttle us back to our van near Marietta, met us to hike the last 1 1/2 miles with us. We ended our hike near Mineral Springs Lake where we will continue our trip on bicycles after our shuttle in April. Thanks, Paul, for all your help and time.
Our overall experience on the Buckeye Trail has been a pleasant one in spite of the flood. We were surprised by the ruggedness of the terrain. The lack of shelters and designated campsites was a challenge. But, the people of southern Ohio were generous and helpful.
Of 14 nights spent on the trail, 6 nights were spent camping out, 1 night with friends, 3 nights in paid lodging, and 4 nights were spent in the homes of newfound friends. Over the 210 miles, we averaged 15 miles per day of hiking and took one day off. This, coupled with the 41 miles previously hiked in West Virginia, totals 251 miles completed, or 5% of our expected ADT mileage.
For information and maps on the Buckeye Trail, contact:
Buckeye Trail Association
PO Box 254
Worthington, OH 43085
We will resume our westward journey on our mountain bikes on March 25th at Cape Henlopen, Delaware, near Lewes. We will leave at about 9 am after dabbing our toes (or tires) in the Atlantic Ocean and head west. (Happy Tires doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Happy Feet, does it?) Anyone who would like to join us for our send-off is welcome.
© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet