Wednesday morning I woke up, packed up and went upstairs for coffee. Judy made me eggs, bacon and hash browns. She packaged up some cookies for me and then we were off.
We headed to Mt. Orab so I could pick up my mail. Thank you Jojo for the care package filled with candy. My sweet prince. After the post office they brought me back to the trail. We said our goodbyes and I thanked them for their wonderful hospitality. It had been raining all morning, not heavy though. I walked past Grant Lake which looked rather swollen. Then past farms, houses and down country roads. I was headed towards the campgrounds of East Fork Lake.
I blindly followed the blue blazes of the Buckeye Trail. It wasn't until I was on the East Fork Backpack Trail that I realized I had made a wrong turn. The campground was in the opposite direction. My guidebook said that this way was an alternate option though, so I continued on. There would be a primitive campsite somewhere down the trail my map indicated. It was further than I hoped to travel but Brown wasn't having any difficulty. So we pressed on.
The thunderstorms that passed through this area on Monday and Tuesday had left the trail very muddy. It wasn't until I reached the first creek crossing that I realized how much rain this area got. The creek was knee deep. The water brown, making it impossible to see where you're stepping. This freaks me out because of my fear of snakes but there's no other way around. Glad to have that behind me we continue on.
We walked through corn fields, past another creek and through water logged trails until we finally reached campsite three. What I thought would be a primitive campsite was actually a shelter. I was so relieved, I wouldn't have to pitch my tent on the wet ground. There were bats and birds living in the shelter so I pitched my tent inside. I read my book for awhile. Half way through it, I can't put it down. I made some dinner and then went to sleep.
Thursday morning I woke up, packed up and got moving. Low on stove fuel I skip my morning coffee. I don't know why I thought the trail would have dried up overnight but I was saddened to see it was going to be another wet footed, muddy day of walking. Not a half mile down the trail I reached my first creek crossing. Reeds surround the creek which drains into the lake on my right. Being from Florida, I know gators and snakes live in the reeds. I know there are no gators in Ohio but not being able to see the bottom convinces this hypochondriac there are. It took me forever to build up the courage to cross. The water was up to my hips when I turned back. There had to be another way. Poor Brown didn't know what was up. I walked up stream a ways and found a shallower crossing and fought my way through greenbrier thorns to get back to the trail. Better thorns than gators I told myself.
Another mile down the trail I reached another creek. This one only knee deep but fast moving. I carried browns pack to prevent him from slipping. However, that meant I couldn't use my hiking poles to poke the creek in front of me. I caught myself after almost slipping and was glad to be across. The trail then went up hill and down and followed the curves of the land and lake. Still pretty muddy and my feet soaked I was hating today. It wasn't until my final creek crossing that I was like "you've got to be kidding me". It was a river not a creek. The water was up to my hips after only a few steps and again I turned around and looked for a shallower crossing. The river had steep banks on the opposite side. Crossing at a shallower point meant I would be climbing a river bank when I got across. I tell myself better a climb than swim. So I cross an area only knee deep and begin a twenty foot climb. Each step pushed leaves away revealing the mud beneath it. I grabbed rocks and trees to pull myself up. At one point I was on all fours dragging myself up grasping for anything. Brown had slipped a few times but each time rebounded and hobbled up like a mountain goat.
At the top we again had to trail blaze through greenbrier thorns back to the trail. A short distance later we reached primitive campsite two. We stopped here for lunch, contemplated just staying. However, the day was still young and the longer I sat around the colder I got. The forecast is cloudy, temps around sixty. Not bad if you're moving but cold if you're sitting still and wet. I swap my socks and keep moving.
Through muddy trails along the lake and through dense wood I make my way. I stumbled upon a couple going at it in the woods. They didn't see me until Brown went running up to them, I nodded, the guy said hi, I called Brown and we kept moving. I wasn't sure how far I wanted to go but when I got to primitive campsite one, I decided to call it a day. We set up in the shelter, I read for a few hours, then went to bed.
Friday morning while packing up an older hiker was passing through camp and we talked for a bit. He wished me well and I was on my way. I got to the ranger station, charged my phone and looked at my maps. I decided I would skip the next town of Batavia and take a more direct route to Milford.
Passing through towns I had many well wishes along the way. So many people offered encouragement, it was warming. I stopped in Amelia at a Little Caesars. Brown and I finished a whole pizza and crazy bread for lunch. We continued walking cutting through neighborhoods. We past a garage sale and the ladies wished us well on the way. Several miles down the road, on a different road in fact a man came up to me with a bag of food and water. He said his mom saw me at the garage sale and called him, when I past his house he was ready with some food. We stopped at a baseball field and opened the bag. There was even a treat for Brown inside!
After a brief rest we kept moving. Dark clouds loomed on the horizon, the forecast didn't call for rain but I wasn't going to chance it. Shortly after I man in a van pulled up and asked about my hike. I told him and he thought it was awesome. He was driving a company van and making his route which past me a couple of times. Finally he offered a ride up the road. He said he couldn't go too far because he was still working but he wanted to pick my brain. His name is Jeremy, maybe a few years younger than me. He has plans to hike the Appalachian trail when he finishes school. I told him about my journey and we talked a bit. He probably drove me two or three miles which saved me an hour of walking.
Today was going to be a twenty mile day and I could feel it in my feet. The insoles that I bought at Walmart had only made my shoes tighter at their widest point. Squeezing my feet in, I took them out and suddenly my feet felt a little bit better. I reached the town of Miami and a guy at a red light yelled out his car "I saw you all the way back in Bethel this morning! Right on man!". He gave me a thumbs up and drove off when the light changed. About a mile from my destination I saw a Sonic. I had been craving one of their slushies forever. I got a lemon berry slush and the girl on roller blades brought it out. She asked about my pack and I told her about my journey, she thought it was really cool.
Finally around 8:30pm I reached Judy & Dee's house. It was a long day. We got pretty muddy the past few days so showers felt great. I made a root beer float and called it a night. I'm going to take tomorrow off to fix the post offices on my website and do laundry.
Thank you readers. Thank you Jojo. Thank you Jay. Thank you Jeremy. Thank you to everyone who I passed by today that wished me luck.
"Tell all the English boys you meet about the American boy back in the states"