13-year-old Tyler was the hike leader. 13-year-old Patrick was the mapigator. 16-year-old SPL T.J., a veteran of our last Hiking extravaganza, decided to come along for the fun of it. Tyler's dad, John, was our second adult. And then, there was Yours Truly, the Man with the Iron Calves.
There was a fundraiser for our Troop this morning, so we couldn't start until 12:30. That being so, I laid out a route from the Kroger in Highland Village (where our fundraiser was) back to Ellettsville. The sun was warm, the day was clear, and all was ready. We got off just a few minutes late.
Our route took us up amongst strip malls and the backside of commercial properties over to Curry Pike. We passed the GE plant and other industrial sites. We turned west on Vernal Pike and headed out of town. Almost immediately, we were in farm country. With sidewalks (go figure). The farther west we walked, the less citified our surroundings became. Eventually, we found ourselves walking along a country road only a mile from the Owen County line.
We paused here for a long break. I don't think I fell asleep, but I found myself snorting myself alert again, as if I were dozing. Needed that. We started up Starnes Road, which has a hill or two on it, but soon came to Harrison's house. Harrison is one of our Scouts who didn't come hiking because he injured an ankle recently. (Not that that's stopped him from attending soccer and cross country practice.) We sat and visited for a bit and filled up on cool water. And then it was back on up the road. We were only four miles from town at that point.
Still, those last four miles were painful for guys who'd never walked ten miles before. I've noticed that your brain hurts before your legs and feet. If five miles is a "big hike" for you, then you start to check out long before you've covered ten miles. But after you've done a ten-miler, then you adjust and all future ten-milers are much easier.
Those last few miles, the sky became overcast and a cool breeze blew over us now and then. We finally stumbled into town past the schools and found our way to EFUMC again. It was just coming up to quarter after six. We had spent five and three quarter hours to cover our ten miles. Not bad for the first ten-miler; now, we have a mark to beat.
I told the boys along the way that one of the attractions of hiking over familiar territory is that you see things from the side of the road that you never notice while driving over that road. And so it proved today. We identified lots of different trees, and we saw some very pretty country views, some trim little farms, some interesting barns, a hawk, several buzzards, goldfinches, bluebirds, and a variety of dogs who noted our passing.