Our first shakedown hike for Yellowstone is in three weeks, but I had itchy feet, so I went out to where we'll be taking the boys and hiked the Sycamore Loop in the Deam Wilderness. It was about five and a half miles, and I blazed through it in just over three hours. Too fast. That last mile and a half hurt.
It was a beautiful day. A couple of miles of slow descent alongside Sycamore Branch, then a turn back up the next ridge, gaining all the elevation back in only 3/4 mile. The trail then meandered along the edges of the ridge, which stretches out like splayed fingers. Eventually, I found myself walking across the broad back of the ridge's hand until I neared the end. Terrill Ridge Road goes from the fire tower on the main gravel road to Terrill Cemetery, way back in the woods; this road lies alongside the "index finger" of the ridge-hand.
The deer pond, below, is not natural. Water runs quickly down the side of these unglaciated limestone hills. To keep the wildlife up in the woods, instead of down on the roads, the Forest Service has built watering holes on the tops of the ridges.
Near the end of my hike, I came to Terrill Cemetery, an old pioneer burying ground that has seen only one burial since the '40s. Many stones are just limestone slabs stuck vertically in the ground, with no inscription. The headstone, below, shows five little girls of the Axsom family who all died in the same year. Influenza? A house fire? I don't know. But the fragility of life and our need for God (and thanks for my current good health) crowd my thoughts in that place.
Click on pic to enlarge.
Terrill Ridge, Charles C. Deam Wilderness, Hoosier National Forest
Terrill Cemetery, Hoosier National Forest