So Friday afternoon, we boogied on down the road to Wilderstead. There were deer capering in the grass when we arrived. We made supper and ate, then played cards until bed-time. We heard coyotes whooping it up. Zach complained that I snored. Zach, be it noted, moans like the Everlasting Lost in his sleep, so he ain't got nuthin' to complain about.
It's in the cards
Playing euchre in the fading evening light
We were up and going very early. Made a simple, hot breakfast, rustled up our gear, and were out the door before seven o'clock. And we were off! As we walked up to the gate, the morning was just broadening out and the view down our holler was beautiful. The sky was a beautiful blue, there were big, fluffy clouds, and it didn't look to become too hot. Perfect hiking weather!
Morning in Akes Hollow
We walked along Hartford Pike to Highway 262, then turned north and headed into the village of Milton. We greeted some horses and shared an apple with them. The valley lay open and peaceful under a gorgeous sky. We saw a couple of fauns playing behind the Rev. Billy Joe Bob's Jesus Barn (a.k.a., "the Meeting Place Church of Christ," which is a very large quonset hut). There we ate our second breakfast before continuing on (we planned five meals for this day in order to keep our bodies fueled for their labor). And then we started to climb up out of the valley on Milton-Bear Branch Road.
Greeting the Neighbors
Michelle horsing around
A Bridge Too Far
The bridge over Laughery Creek at Milton that we didn't cross, either coming or going
We passed farms and houses and plenty of ponds. We saw a blue heron and some Canada geese. Chickadees were everywhere. Once we passed about six miles, hike leader Zach began to feel it. Zach's a great Scout, but he's not done much hiking before -- certainly, nothing over the required five-miler that you have to do in the lower Ranks -- unlike, T.J., whose first required Merit Badge was Hiking and who is also a Philmont veteran. T.J. did a twenty-miler out here five years ago, almost to the day. He knew what was coming; Zach didn't.
Eventually, we got to St. Peter's church, where a handy water spigot allowed us to top off our water bottles and take a break under a picnic shelter. We'd done about seven miles. A little ways down the road, we came to (Old) St. Peter's Cemetery, and there we paused for a history lesson. German immigrants helped settle this part of the country, and there are lots of German names everywhere. The two tombstones, below, are side by side in the cemetery, and they tell an important story.
You'll notice the first stone is carved in Fraktur lettering and the umlaut in Kütenbrink is still in use. But the stone beside it is from the next generation. The umlaut is gone and the name is now pronounced American-fashion. The assimilation of immigrants is a big story in America, along with the steady loss of language connections to the old country (whichever "old country" we're talking about). I translated several tombstones from German for the Venturers. Today, probably nobody in the area speaks German in the home any more.
Note Fraktur lettering and the use of the umlaut
Next Generation Tombstone
Lettering is Roman and name has been Anglicized
We kept seeing detour signs along our way, but we couldn't figure out where the road work was. We figured it didn't matter much to us, since we were on foot and could just go around any temporary obstruction. After St. Peter's Cemetery, we turned off on Bells Branch Road and began a rapid descent to the valley floor. Toward the bottom, they were replacing small bridges, and one was still being worked on. We walked on over it, though if we'd been in a car, we'd have had to go several miles around it on some very narrow, winding roads. All the better for being footloose and fancy free!
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Don't worry, we know where we're going
We were beginning to get pretty footsore when we finally reached Lost Bridge. Built in 1916 by the Oregonia Bridge Co., it spans Laughery Creek ten miles upstream from Wilderstead. It got a nice, new paintjob a few years ago, and stands out in striking fashion against the green and brown around it. As Lost Bridge hove into view, I shouted out, Die Brücke wird nie mehr verloren! Wir haben sie gefunden! which nobody else understood, but I felt appropriate.
No Longer Lost
Lost Bridge at last
We paused for lunch on the Ohio County side. Soaked our tootsies in the water, then ate our lunch. I put some moleskin around the hot spots on my feet. There was time for a quick nap for those so inclined. The day was warm but not oppressive, and there were few bugs. Altogether, a gorgeous day.
Old Man Laughery
He jest keeps rollin' along
Gathering strength for the second half
Having made it halfway, we were then obligated to get back as best we could. Ten more miles awaited us. Luckily, we did the ridge tops in the morning and now, as the sun grew stronger, we were down in the valley where we encountered frequent shade. We met a lot of friendly people, and not a few inquisitive dogs. A lot of locals keep little fishing camps on the creek, and we stopped at one to dress our feet and rest. A sign with a hand pointing to the right was on the porch eaves. It said, simply, "It's That-a-way." And there, indeed, was a place of easement. Not all signs were so easily understood. A little further down, we couldn't figure out what the Handicapped sign by the side of the road indicated.
On the Road Again
Crossing into Dearborn County
So said the sign
Lo, a Sign
But no clue what it signifies
Down in the Valley
Hiking along Laughery Creek Rd.
By the time we'd done fifteen miles, we were all hurting pretty bad. My feet were in rough shape, and we had to pause again for me to add more moleskin around a fine blister on the ball of my foot. There, we ate our first dinner, and marched on. We're tough. No whiners among us! When we got back to the highway, rather than turn and go back through Milton and round to Wilderstead the way we had come, we crossed the highway and stumped on down to Hueseman Ford, where we crossed the Creek at a gravel bar.
This gravel bar is the only place in Dearborn or Ohio Counties where gold has ever been found. It is also where the creek that runs through my land empties into Laughery. So, the gold must have been washed down from somewhere up around my land. My creek doesn't have a name, so I call it the Pishon. For those who know their Bibles, you will find that name in the book of Genesis. It is one of the four rivers of Eden, and it came from a land where there was much gold.
Wade in the Water
Fording the Creek
Crossing the creek by the ford rather than the bridge saved us two miles of road walking, making the day's work twenty miles rather than twenty-two. And it felt soooo good! All we had to do was walk straight up Akes Hill Road and turn into our lane, and there we were. When everyone had made it up to the cabin, I called for the time. It was 6:52 p.m., almost exactly twelve hours since we left that morning. That's a record for us, hallelujah!
We had enough time at our disposal that we could spend a half hour or so soaking our feet in the Pishon at my favorite bathing pool. Then we made our hot supper. Nobody felt much like playing cards; in fact, everybody was in bed by 9:00 p.m., while there was still some daylight left!
We spend some time cooling our beat-up feet in the bathing pool
We were all sore and tired when we got up this morning, but we made breakfast, cleaned the cabin, and packed up our gear in good order. We were back in E'ville by 11:00, with another successful adventure behind us. This latest hike brings my estimated lifetime total up to 1,496 miles. As soon as my feet heal up a bit, I'll be out to nail those last four miles and finally hit 1,500!
Rougher! Tougher! Buffer!