Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hike 2011.070 -- North-South Trail, Land Between the Lakes NRA, KY, Part 8

Hiked Saturday, October 8. Approxi-mately 18.5 miles of walking today. That's the longest I've walked since coming to Kentucky. Still not as much altitude change, of course, so it's not as exhausting as even a shorter distance back in California. But it is still tough on my feet. After I got home last night, I pretty much just sat or spent the time laying down. My heels are feeling better, now.

I started at the North Welcome Center for Land Between the Lakes NRA. From KY80/US68, it's roughly 18 miles north on the Trace to the north Welcome Center. It'll be on your left.

From there, I made a couple of false starts in search of the North-South trail. Initially, I started out on the Canal Loop, thinking maybe the North-South trail would spur off of that. But after about 1/2 mile of heading west rather than south, I knew that was wrong.

I went back to the area around the Welcome Center and looked for the other trailhead, which I knew was south of the Welcome Center. I found the "old" start, but there was a sign there saying to start this hike from the "Paved Trail." The Paved Trail is a wheel chair and bike accessible trail that runs about two miles, mostly parallel to the Trace. It starts right along the Trace, as well. By contrast, the old North-South trail was almost due west from that point.

I walked up to the Paved Trail and started down the path. About fifty yards in, there was a sign that confused me. A path headed off the pavement, to the right. It had a big blue and a big white blaze. However, the sign at this junction said the North-South trail was straight ahead. I walked straight south about 1/2 mile, before determining (by the absence of any additional signage) that this was not the way, at least not any more.

Thus, I backtracked to the fork and took the path that would have been to the right. Many hours later, when I returned this way, noticed that the arrow part of the sign was partially lifted off the plastic stake. I looked around, and didn't see anyone. So I decided to fix the mistake. I peeled the arrow off the sign and pasted it back on, with the arrow now agreeing with the blazes on the trees.

One nice thing about this detour is I got to see a HUGE praying mantis. Must have been eight inches long, and brown (not green, like most I've seen). He was so big, when I cropped and blew up the picture of him, I could see his little eye balls, staring back at me.

Wasting the time and effort on my wrong turns was annoying, because I planned to make the most of this whole day on the North-South trail. I had 1/2 gallon of liquids to drink and two Powerbars, and intended to walk until near sunset, if necessary.

(That's an aster, there, although, for some reason, the pictures of the petals always come out looking more white than purple). After about 1/2 mile, the "blue blazes" trail (Canal Loop) split off to the right, crossing a bridge. My "white blazes" trail (North-South trail) continued straight. Nice thing about these color-coded blazes is, if you know the code, you can figure out quickly if you're on the right trail. Having a map also helps.

This northern section of the trail crosses through or near many picnic and camping areas, and several roads (some paved, some dirt, some gravel). It also spends a lot of time overlooking or adjacent to Kentucky Lake. Add to that the other hikers and bikers recreating on the path (and this being a warm Saturday, in contrast to the previous two weekends), and this was definitely the least isolated of my hikes in LBL so far.

Near one of these campsites, an "adopt a trail" sign was posted, just as many others I have passed over the past few months. However, I am highly skeptical that the name listed as the sponsor is an actual person's name.

I still enjoyed my time on the trail, of course. Took plenty of pictures, too, though none of any wildlife larger than a praying mantis.

When the day started, I had identified several possible turnaround points, depending on how I felt. As it turned out, I selected the spot where the trail crossed LBL Road #114. It was 2:30pm by then, and I was starting to feel a little tired. Importantly, a green sign said it was 8.7 miles back to the North Welcom Center. "That's far enough," I said to myself.

Road #114 is paved, and has direct access back to the Trace. The next time I come this way, I can easily drive exactly to where I finished today's hike, and pick it up from there.

That's 17.4 miles on the North-South trail today. I'm pretty confident I did over one mile on my two detours. However, to be conservative, I'm calling it 18.5 miles for the day. As noted earlier, that's 8.7 miles worth of North-South Trail coverage, as well.

Most of the trail was pretty straightforward. In a few places, downed trees required short detours. In one place (right after the big field that is the picture at the top of this post), the trail splits off a dirt road, heading to the left. But even if you missed the turn, the trail and road rejoin when they reach Road #114. Just keep your blaze colors straight.

I'd already covered about 5 1/2 miles worth of the northern section of the North-South Trail, and all of the open areas of the southern section of the North-South trail. Only about 13-14 more miles of North-South trail to be covered. Without a car shuttle, that's probably three more hiking days (some of which can be pretty short days).

Not exactly what time I started on the proper trail, but it was probably around 11am. Got back to the car around 6pm. Heels were very sore. The sense of accomplishment for the distance covered was good.

Built up a real appetite, too. I ate a pretty large dinner last night, and have been eating like a horse today.

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