So I thought I'd document my hike on Saturday. In reviewing these photos, it looks like a very mild, picturesque, and enjoyable hike. Don't be fooled. I'm not being dramatic when I tell you that there have been times in my hiking history when I've been lost. There have been other times, well, only one time, actually, when I had the realization that I might actually die. This hike incorporated both of these ideas. I got lost. I thought I might die. Faced with no other choice than to stay in place in the blistering sun, my manfriend and I successfully chose to push forward, completed the hike, and made it back to the car without serious injury. My manfriend continues to use the example of this hike to impress upon me how we were confronted with a challenge and worked through it together, hahaha.
This hike was obviously a new one for me. I was looking for something different than the normal 4-5 mile hike I do at a nearby nature preserve called Raven Run. I found out that a local tourist destination and historical landmark ( www.shakervillageky.org
) also includes a nature preserve with 40 miles of trails. Great! Not a bad drive at all and something new. I looked at the map and decided upon a 5 mile loop that also had a ~.75 mile lead-in trail. So my calculated mileage was 6.5 miles in all.
Let me start this next bit by admitting we got a late start. We arrived at the trail head at about 1:30pm. The sun was out in full force. No rain was forecast but there were the scattered clouds here and there.
The first thing that should have alerted us that our planned journey was the "path less traveled" was that, about .5 miles in, we came to this:
To proceed, we had to take our shoes off and wade through the water in this tunnel underneath a local highway. It wasn't *too* bad. It was a bit slimey here and there but it was a novelty so we rolled with the flow and continued to the other side. For the rest of the hike, the trail crossed a small creek no less than 4 additional times. My boots have Gore-tex and the depth was minimal so I could simply walk right on across with no repercussion. Manfriend was wearing socks and trainers, so at every crossing, he had to doff and don his socks and shoes. Not as much fun for him.
On the other side, we were greeted with this view:
This pretty much is an example of the entire hike. Rolling farmland. This wouldn't be bad in and of itself but it was 6.5 miles exposed to full sunlight that was the problem. The trail was badly marked so we were confused and concerned quite a few times, especially since our water was dwindling by mid-hike and there was no place to rest in the shade at all. Had we known what we were getting into, we would not have chosen this trail. This trail is more suited for a fine October morning, not at the peak of afternoon during summer solstice.
The following pics were taken at low stress points so you really cannot tell the degree of the "rolling hills" involved. I failed to document with pics when I was struggling hard on the long uphills stretches. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other! My FitBit registered 46 flights of steps after this was all said and done!!!! The other problem was that the "trail" had not been mowed for some time. At points we were hiking through tall grass with loose hay lying on top of that. It reminded me of trying to walk through sand. At several points, we had to stop and rest within a few square feet of shade cast by the occasional tree for any sort of respite from the heat. We kept on, hoping for tree cover or spectacular views that never came. With these pics I've captured the things that were remotely interesting or that diverted me from feelings of despair, hahaha.
This was some sort of mutant dandelion as big as the palm of your hand. There were quite a few of these. I've never seen such a thing but when I showed a friend this picture, he said it was a native Kentucky grass.
This is a common site in Kentucky farmland this time of year. Unfortunately SparkPeople automatically adjusts the size down so you can't see the big rolls of hay toward the right side of the pic:
Here you can see the trail ran along the side of a cornfield. This field was shorter than one we saw earlier on, which was shoulder high. I stopped to take a pic here, because if you notice the ground, we had some shade spots:
Here is one of several barns we went past. This one had a vulture perched on the roof (right hand side). I think he was eyeballing us.
More freaking grass trail. Imagine this trail going straight up and down over and over for 6.5 miles and you can start getting the idea. This pic doesn't really show well how sunny it was. Perhaps it was behind of cloud at that moment. This would explain why I would have stopped at all to take a pic. Also, this part here was actually decent in terms of grass height/hay layer:
This is pretty much a natural view of central Kentucky farmland. My iphone doesn't do it justice here. At the time, I thought this was a great view, especially in comparison to cornfields, hahaha. Oh, did I mention there was no cell phone reception? Yeah. That may explain better the "I might die dehydrated and burnt to a crisp in the middle of nowhere" feeling.
Here we have one of the very few tree covered areas at one of the very many creek crossings. The manfriend found an old bridge. He was happy he didn't have to remove his shoes again.
At one point during the hike, I started having chills and stopped sweating...uh oh, heat stroke danger, but we made it! Sunburnt and thirsty as all get out, 4 hours later we found a spot that looked sorta familiar. In fact, at that point I was in a very serious "must keep moving forward" zone and manfriend had to convince me that this turn off was definitely a place we had passed before. If he hadn't convinced me, I would have gone around in a multi-mile circle! We struck out on his choice of path and came to another crossroads that "kinda" looked familiar but there was a gate that neither one of us had noticed before. Cue bad feeling in pit of stomach again. But it all turned out fine. We were definitely in the right place after all!
I was so relieved to get back to the initial tunnel with water again. Even more relieved was I to get back into my car with the air conditioning.
Manfriend said "I don't ever see a need to do that one again." I had to agree. We were glad we did it though. The more you know...
We treated ourselves by splitting a 44oz. diet cherry limeade slushie from Sonic on the drive home.
All and all, good exercise. It just wasn't the best trail. I was so glad manfriend was with me too!