Caron and I spent the next few days and nights exploring the Gorge. We traveled via the Sheltowee Trace Trail a majority of the time. I wondered about those who had traveled the trail before and the history behind it. I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought back to the first time I had been on this specific trail, referring to the “blazes” as simply “turtles” not knowing their significance or what a blaze even was.
Caron and I climbed up along a ridge and I pointed out the scars left from a forest fire. I remembered hiking past this same section many years before with Darwin in the dark. Darwin and I had passed by burning embers and flames as our adrenaline pumped after being woken up and questioned by the Forest Service still several hours before daybreak. A campfire had gotten out of control and we were informed to evacuate as our camp spot was in the middle of a full-blown forest fire.
Caron and I continued hiking admiring the blooming Mountain Laurels and lost time watching the butterflies flutter around them. Eventually, we made our camp by a stream and enjoyed the company of a small (and controlled) campfire that evening. We reviewed our day and the lessons we had learned such as the below:
Check Your Mac & Cheese – powdered cheese is better for camping the liquid is just disappointing
Use A Go Girl Only When Fully Awake – using it while in your tent half asleep will prove to be messy
The next morning we took our time packing up camp and decided to hike back out to the car in order to explore more areas of the Gorge we would be unable to hike to. We spent some time in the Visitor’s Center learning about the Gorge’s flora, fauna, and legends still being told about the area. We then drove to a few visitas looking down into a thick green and humid wilderness, trimmed with beautiful gray and brown rock outcroppings.
We ate lunch at a developed picnic area and consulted our maps, finding a trailhead to park at deciding to hike in just a few miles to camp for the evening. Hiking out a lot further than we both expected, we settled for a less than desirable campsite. The long-distance hiker in me had to grit my teeth in order to say this was our home for the night. The urge to keep hiking until a better spot came along was strong but as many may know, that perfect campsite usually doesn’t exist. I had to remind myself this was not that type of hike; it was not the miles that matter but the experience. Old habits die hard I suppose and spending time with good friends never lasts long enough.
The last few days of hiking seemed to wash over both of us as everything seemed to become a struggle, especially for me to hang a bear bag. Finally fed and camp chores done, we retreated to our tents.
The next morning marked our fourth and last day. We hiked back out to the car and said our goodbyes to the wilderness as we drove back through the Nada Tunnel. We came out the other side greeted by civilization and made our way to a well-deserved hot breakfast and coffee before our drive home.
The Dirtbag’s Guide To Life – Review Coming Soon!
Cool Thingys That I Also Do:
My Book: Mini Misadventures – more stories from the Gorge can be found here!
Etsy Store: TravelandTrail
Last Week’s Post: