I arrived Friday afternoon. It was a beautiful autumn day. I was so pleased with the beauty around me that I paused just inside my gate to take a picture of the road into my holler. Later on, I took another of the road's descent into my building and cabin site.
The Road to Elfland
Deepening holler in the deepening dusk
It began to rain steadily. Away up north, lightning flashed as a storm played itself out. My guests drove through that storm, finally arriving safely about 8:30 in the evening. There were Shelby and Eli, Scouts, and James and Jeff, adult leaders. We stayed up past midnight, snacking and talking. Finally, everyone was bedded down and we all slept soundly.
I got up at 5:30 the next morning and put on water to heat for coffee and oatmeal. The others began to stir (not without some prodding here and there). We locked the cabin doors and started out on our jaunt just past 7:00 o'clock. We walked in darkness down to Hartford Pike and turned toward Milton. The light slowly grew around us, and by the time we were marching down Hwy 262, we had full daylight. We stumped on up past the Rev. Billy Joe Bob's Jesus Barn and elected to push up onto the ridge immediately. This would give us several miles of flat ground to walk along. About 9:30, we stopped to eat a second, cold breakfast.
The Hobbit Patrol stops for Second Breakfast
We made good time as we walked along. The sun was warm, but the air was cool, perfect hiking weather. Little or no wind that morning. We turned south into open farm country, where corn and beans looked about ready for harvest. Soon we found ourselves passing St. Peter's Church, where we were greeted by a very friendly collie. After that, we paused in a small graveyard to contemplate the tragedy of German-American assimilation under severe pressure during WW 1. Tombstones before WW 1 were carved in Fraktur letters, with dates and information in German and umlauts included in surnames. Tombstones after WW 1 were all in Roman letters, in English with Anglicized names. Shortly after this, we reached Bell's Branch Road and began to descend rapidly again into the Laughery Creek valley.
Enthusiastic church greeter
It's all downhill from here
We descended rapidly to the floor of the valley, and just before crossing Lost Bridge, we stopped for lunch on the Ohio County side. It was just about 11:30, and we had covered ten miles in four and a half hours. We took a leisurely lunch, and a little after 1:00 crossed the bridge into Dearborn County. "Lost Bridge" is only a local name. The bridge itself isn't lost, but I would imagine some of those who find themselves there are. Just on the other side of the bridge was a "Welcome to Dearborn County" sign, along with some other signs that weren't quite as friendly.
Lost no more
Not everyone in Dearborn Co. is happy to see you
The road on the north side of the creek hugged the hills rather than the water, but continued on relatively flat. Shelby started to labor to keep up (and he was the leader). Everyone was a bit weary. About fifteen miles in, we came to a nice stone wall which gave us a place to rest for a bit and gather our resources for the final push.
We soon found ourselves back to Hwy 262. Rather than going back over the bridge to Milton, we turned uphill and found the road that continued along the north side. At a turn in this road, there was a opening in the trees, with a dirt road leading down to a stony ford over Laughery. It just so happens that this ford is where my creek, the Pishon, empties into the big creek. We waded across the cold water, dried our feet and put our boots back on, and stumped on up the hill to my gate.
Just two more Ranger miles
Wade in the water, children
To my surprise, we got back to the cabin in daylight. In fact, we did the whole twenty miles in just eleven and a half hours, which is as good a time as I've ever done this hike. Shelby went upstairs and crashed and had to be woken up for supper. Eli sat slumped over in a semi-conscious state for a while. Jeff and James and I talked and talked. The boys joined in a bit after some chicken noodle soup. We went to bed far earlier on this night than the night before.
I was up about six. My aches and pains woke me up and I decided to get ahead of my pain with some naproxen sodium. I put the coffee on, fired up the space heater and read for a while. Others began to stir about 7:00. We had a leisurely morning eating breakfast, and then we cleaned up and scooted down the road.
I am grateful to God for the strength to do this hike. I was worried about still having the endurance for it, but I did better than I have the last couple of times I've done this. And no blisters, either. And, BTW, I now have 1,906 miles on my estimated lifetime hiking mileage.
Laughery Creek above the ford