Monday morning I woke up and since it was not raining I decided to get moving. I had to travel back to the Buckeye Trail thirty minutes away. The rain came around noon and so we stopped in a picnic pavilion just off the trail for a short break. When the rain lightened we continued on. The trail eventually hits roads then goes through someone's backyard before becoming trail again. You reach the top of the ridge and can see Londonderry at the bottom. I descend and pass through a field then an old campground and out onto a busy road with very little shoulder. The post office is a mile and a half from the trail. I pass a gas station and stop in for some stove fuel, a snickers ice cream and a root beer.
I reached the post office, three packages. Summer clothes and food for Brown and myself. I explained to the post lady that I was hiking and excited to send my winter clothes back. She said that I might want to hold off because snow was on the way. She also mentioned a friend of hers that hosts hikers and offered to call her for me. I said yes, please. Anything to get out of the snow. Five minutes later Connie arrived. The post lady said that I was going to get spoiled and I would soon learn she was right. We took off down the road, Connie explained to me that her brother in law and mother in law were in town visiting but I could sleep in the basement. When we arrived she fixed me a plate of cookies and some tea. Then I took a shower and came upstairs to meet Mike, Connie's husband. Shortly after I met the rest of the family and we sat down to dinner, salad, ham, collard greens, corn and potatoes. All delicious with brownies and ice cream for dessert.
I slept downstairs in the basement and was very happy to not be outside.
Tuesday morning I woke up to snow. Connie had offered to let me keep my pack at her house, hike for the day and then come back to spend the night again and then be dropped off where I left off. Another hot meal and night indoors! I still had to get through today though. After over easy Amish eggs and toast, Mike dropped me off at the base of hang glide hill.
The snow had stopped but left a blanket over the trees and mountains. It was cold. We headed off on the trail, slowly throughout the day the snow melted. This made the trail very muddy and the rain from the day before made the creeks extra high. My day was challenging and my feet wet. Fortunately I didn't have to cary a heavy pack that day. Brown and I did some trail running. Something we used to do in the National Forest back in DC.
I reached the designated pick up spot and called Mike to come get me. Shortly after he and Connie came and we rode back to the house. Connie prepared dinner, spaghetti and meat sauce and we sat down and enjoyed. After hanging around in the living room for awhile with some good conversation, I retired to the basement.
Wednesday morning I woke up and went upstairs. Connie had just walked Brown for me and was about to fix breakfast, eggs, bacon and toast. After breakfast, I packed up my things, loaded them into the truck and we drove to where I stopped the day before. I said goodbye to Connie and Mike and thanked them for their hospitality.
Back on the trail, which soon puts you onto a road. I would be on country roads all day, passing by homes and farms. My destination: Pike Lake. My guidebook said there would be fishing, camping, kayaking, swimming, etc. So I originally planned a day off here to swim and relax by the lake. After a long walking day I arrived to find the lake has been drained. The temperature drop made it too cold for swimming anyhow. I set up in the campground, gathered plenty of wood and began roasting marshmallows. I had the campground to myself, it was nice and quiet, just the sound of the creek behind me.
Thursday morning, my day off, it was chilly. I sent back mostly all of my winter clothes in Londonderry. I rekindled my fire and stood around it for a bit. After stretching I decided to do some squats, push ups and crunches. I haven't worked out since DC. I've lost twenty pounds. My diet has become worse, less produce and more processed foods. I ordered some dehydrated vegetables online, I'm looking forward to that. Anyway, after the workout I took Brown for a walk but he wasn't all there. He was very lethargic and lied down by the dry lake bed. We rested for a bit and then walked back to the tent. He went in and back to sleep.
While we were gone a bunch of campers had parked down at the campground. One right next to me. I was annoyed at first but when I met the couple, I was happy they were my new neighbors. Vick and his wife, Gloria. Vick was a jovial, happy about life kinda guy, maybe in his sixties maybe and Gloria a sweet, kind woman. They had been together for forty seven years. She gave me all of her old National Geographic magazines from in the camper to look at. Brown came back to life and was happy to meet the new neighbors. They've come here every year at this time for decades because turkey hunting season starts on Monday.
I went up to the camp store and bought a can of corn and Vienna sausages. I mixed them with my stove top stuffing with gravy, raisins and almonds. Sadly I ran out of marshmallows the night before. After dinner, Vick and Gloria invited me over to their fire and we had some good fire side chats before bed.
Friday morning wasn't as cold as the night before but was still chilly. I woke up, rekindled my fire and made a cup of coffee. Vick came out of his camper and invited me over for breakfast. Gloria made eggs, sausage and biscuits with homemade blackberry jelly. Vick was worried about me walking during hunting season so he gave me his orange sweater!
After I packed up my things I said goodbye to Vick and Gloria and thanked them for their kindness. Forecast of seventy, cloudy. We stopped two miles outside of camp and I took my jacket off. So many hills, when does this country flatten out? All day up and down, sometimes there's a switchback so you aren't going straight up. However, it means you're putting in extra miles going back and forth.
At one point the trail emerged from the forest onto a gravel road with a few trailer homes. The first home had cocks in individual cages, probably for fighting. When I past his dog came running from the porch and lunged at Brown. Brown being the boss he is told that dog what's up and it retreated when it's master called for it. The next house I pass, the guys on the porch ask me if I've been mushroom hunting. Morels pop up in these forests this time of year. I told him I couldn't find any. Shortly down the road, I'm again asked if I've found any morels.
Anyway, through the woods again I go. I didn't make it to Cave Lake until 7:30. My guidebook said it was only supposed to be thirteen and a half miles. Either it lied or I was struggling up hills. My guidebook says this is a YMCA campground. Probably not for many years. One side of the lake is for campers; it seems that you can leave them here year round. The other side of the lake is the campground, completely unmaintained. It has potential. Many people in Ohio have campers though. The lake is very pretty, I arrived as the sun was setting and it was a beautiful sunset. There are showers here and a laundry room. Staying with Connie and Mike put me a day ahead of schedule. So I might take tomorrow off to shower and do laundry. It feels weird because I just had a day off.
Saturday morning I woke up early and headed to the shower. The water so hot I didn't want to get out. I have a tiny towel so I put the bright orange fleece hunting sweater on to dry off. I headed back to the tent, packed it up and began hiking. I decided not to take a day off here. I was headed to Serpent Mound an earthworks mound built by the Indians.
Much of the same, forests, hills, switchbacks, creek crossings, gravel roads, farms, etc. We took our lunch break at Fort Hill. An earthworks structure on top of a mountain/hill. After our break we got back on the trail. I passed a house prior to the town of Sinking Spring and a woman came out to talk to me. She gave me a pop and a chocolate Easter bunny. I then walked through Sinking Spring, stopped at the Family Dollar. I bought chips and salsa. I've been craving this for awhile.
I walked for what seemed like forever. Then reached BTA property adjacent Serpent Mound. There is a newly built shelter here, not on my guidebook. I was happy and set up inside. Ate half of the chips and salsa, then went to bed. I'm going to take tomorrow off and hang out at Serpent Mound.
Thank you readers. Sorry for the delay, there was no cell phone reception at the lakes.