Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hike 2011.064 -- North-South Trail, Land Between the Lakes NRA, TN

Hiked Friday, September 16.

On my last hike along the North-South Trail, I went from Road #170 south to the crossover of the Trace, a distance of about 6.5 miles. At that point, there was a trail closure sign, with an announcement that the closure was "strictly enforced." Today, I planned to start from the Road #205 crossing and head north, to the closure. I wasn't sure how far that would be, but I figured if it was too short, I could always pick up the trail again further south.

Road #205 is just south of the South Bison Range, which I hiked around earlier in the week. The North-South Trail is also closed heading south from Road #205, so the trail southbound from 205 has a temporary detour that comes back down (east) on Road #205, then heads south along the shoulder of the Trace for about 2.5 miles, before heading back west on Road #210. In the meantime, however, there is no closure sign on the North-South trail heading north from Road #205. That's where I started from today.

Just 1/2 mile or so in, there was a fork in the trail. The sign said the North-South trail was to the left, while the Model Loop trail was to the right. The Model Trail (named after a former town at that location) is not on any of the LBL maps, however. Very odd. It does appear in a book on recreational trails in the LBL (it came up on Google). Not sure if I'll buy that book, though.

I continued on the North-South trail. After about 1.5 additional miles, I crossed a large field. It had already been plowed, so it was just bare dirt. Little hard to stay on the trail there.

Not long after clearing that field and going down into a gully then back up, I was within sound of the Trace, again. In fact, I came out exactly where I had finished my southward progress on my previous North-South trail excursion. That should have been impossible, since the gate across the trail facing north still said the trail was closed.

This means either the north-facing sign at the Trace should have been removed but was not, or that there should be a south-facing closure sign somewhere along the path I had walked. There was not.

This presents a quandary: Hike back along the path I had just taken, even though the sign at my back said it was closed and "strictly enforced," or just walk south along the Trace to Road #205. While I contemplated my options, a third choice presented itself. Tucked between the Trace and the closed gate was a trail I narrow trail I had not seen my last time here. It also headed south, and had a small, hand-lettered sign saying it went to "The Homeplace" (a living history exhibit, which is on the Trace, just north of the South Bison Range).

I went with Option C. Unfortunately, after less than a mile, this trail is obstructed by numerous downed trees. I thought I could make my way around these trees and then reacquire the trail. However, this was not the case. After about 20 minutes of picking my way carefully around the dead and decaying wood (looking carefully for poison ivy and trying to avoid tick exposure), I came out on the other side of the trees. I also seemed to be on the trail, but the apparent path soon petered out. After about ten more minutes of trying to pick my way around, looking for the trail, I finally just decided to just head up the slope on my east, since I knew the Trace was only a few hundred yards that way.

IFrom there, I walked along the shoulder of the Trace, eventually making my way past the South Bison Range (It being early evening by now, the bison were actually on the move). Once past the Bison Range, I turned west on Road #205 and walked back to my car.

Lots of flowers on the southern end of my hike today, and lots of bees and other insects gathering nectar. Also saw a really long-legged, spider-like creature. Didn't see any wildlife larger than a squirrel today. This is in contrast to my last trip down this trail, when I saw several whitetail deer and several wild turkey.

Wild turkey are an interesting sight. Because of the forest cover, they can't count on flight as a means of escape, so they run, and look surprisingly like emu or ostrich as they do it. Their legs are longer than you'd expect. They're also pretty fast. Not very quiet, though!

My best guess on mileage for the day is between 5.5 and 6.0 miles. About half of that was on the North-South trail. The trail maps they have available do not give segment distances for the area I hiked, nor do they even show all the trails I was on. Also, I have determined based on my past few weeks in LBL that many of those trail maps are obsolete, and the path on the ground does not match the path on the paper.

Overall on the North-South Trail, I've hiked from Point H to Point K on the South map, and from Point H to Point F on the North map. That's just about 18 miles on the North-South trail (nearly all of it twice, of course). That means I'm about 1/3 of the way done with those trails. Not sure if I can do the whole thing in bits, though. It depends on the placement of near-trail parking, which I have not fully investigated.


  1. Just discovered this blog, looks like you have done some great hikes. Hopefully you get back to the West Coast soon!

  2. Thanks! The one upside of being unemployed for such a long time is I got to do a lot of hiking. The nice thing about my current job is I have still have plenty of time for hiking. The bad thing is that it's far from home and my family. Also, the scenery within an easy drive of here is pretty, but not as diverse as back home.