It started with a wrong turn. What a great way to start. Each new trail I hike usually takes a bit to get the hang of. How are the blazes spaced, how well-maintained is the route, how often does it turn sharply, and where would it most-likely go if it’s not well-marked? I sure got a good feel for the trail after the first two miles, because I went the wrong way. You sure learn a lot going the wrong way! The trailhead at the start is a temporary trailhead that looks quite permanent. The trail starts by following a horse trail for a little bit, and there’s a warning sign at the trailhead that reads, “KT not well-marked. Be careful.”
So when I started out from Wilson Switch Road, I kept my eyes open, looking for the white trail blazes. When I saw one, I veered off and started following the overgrown trail. I assumed this is what the sign meant. It was marked, but so hard to follow! So I trudged on. I had to hike blaze to blaze for an hour, sometimes walking a few different directions looking for the next blaze. When I came out to a road, surprised to already be at my first road crossing, I turned airplane mode off on my phone and Google maps showed me on Wilson Switch Road – the same road where I started – only I was .6 miles down the road from the temporary trailhead and the nice sign saying to be careful. I guess I was at the original trailhead, which is no longer used, and this explains the horribly unmaintained trail and old, faded blazes. Duh! So I laughed at myself and started walking down the road back to the new trailhead to start over. I’m happy to say I got it right the the second time around! I just hadn’t gone far enough. The trail was still kind of hard to spot, but I made sure it was heading north the second time around.
It was a cool morning with the sun shining through the colorful trees in beams. It was an absolutely gorgeous way to start out. It was looking like it was going to be a perfect autumn hike.
At noon I realized I forgot to pack my tortillas, so I spent some time as I walked thinking of creative ways to eat my tuna, peanut butter and rice that I packed to eat with them.
There had been a lot of huge spider webs spread across the trail at face-level right from the start, and every single one had a live spider in its center. I realized after a few hours that this was going to be a regular thing. And it was. This continued for the rest of the hike, and at times was very frustrating, even putting a little damper on the hike. I can handle a web here and a web there, but I was stopping every 15 seconds (literally) at times to frantically pull the web off of my face, out of my eyebrows, eyelashes and mouth – while looking for, finding, and brushing the poor newly homeless spider off of me. There were just. So. Many. Spiders. It was crazy. And there would be more at night when it got dark. But these were of a different variety, which I discovered the morning of day two.
At my lunch break I mixed my tuna and mayo in a ziplock container (because no tortilla), and it worked out just fine. I topped it with cheese and crushed potato chips. While I was finishing up my meal, a critter came wobbling down the trail towards me. I’m not sure what he was, but he was cute! He looked kind of like a marmot, but I’m pretty sure southern Indiana doesn’t have marmots! He stood on his hind legs all cute and prarie-dog-like (he was too big to be a prarie dog), and after about a one-minute stare-off, he slowly got back down on to all fours and waddled away. This felt like a bonus for being solo. Apparently I hadn’t started talking to myself out loud yet!
With a sweat-soaked shirt and scratched legs from green briars that dominate the trail in places, I arrived at camp at 5:30 pm. It was a tiny little site on a high ridge, which I hoped would keep the nightly condensation down, which it did. The valleys I hiked down into throughout the day felt damp and dark, so I was happy to be perched up on top of a bright, airy ridge for my first night.
Dinner was mac-n-cheese with Sriracha sauce, cheese and potato chips. When else can you eat mac-n-cheese guilt-free, and topped with chips? I really love backpacking!
More photos from day one:
Tonight I love Mac-n-cheese. I know it’s bad for me, but it’s such a delicious trail dinner!
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!