January 4th, 2008


Hike report, Morgan-Monroe State Forest

It is supposed to continue warming up and start raining tomorrow, so we switched tomorrow's ten-mile hike to today. Four of the six Scouts who have signed up to do Hiking Merit Badge could make it. David planned the hike and was our leader. Bryan did mapigator duty. T.J. and Jackson rounded out the boys. Curt was our second adult, and he was worried he wouldn't be able to keep up. As if we'd leave anybody on the trail!

We had a bit of driving to do, so we got an early start. Daylight was spreading as we gathered at 8:00 a.m. We got off promptly and drove north to the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. By 9:00 a.m. we were on the trail.

It was cold, but not too bad. By mid-morning, it was 27 degrees. By late afternoon, it had reached 40 out on the trail. Sunny, with a bit of wind. I had to keep fiddling with layers of clothing and hat and gloves, but I kept my temperature adjusted pretty well. It was a beautiful winter day for a hike.

We started out on a forest road. Recent logging created a lot of new (and/or improved) roads, but our path was pretty easy to follow. Somehow, we did make a wrong turn to the south, though how we did that, I couldn't say. We were walking in a westerly direction, and made no left turns. But somehow, we stumbled across a little camp resort around a lake. It added a half mile or so to the road portion of our hike.

We stumped along on public roads (mostly deserted) until we reached the SF boundary again, whereupon we got back on a logging road and in a couple of miles found our way to blacktop on the other side of the forest. This took us south to our starting point.

There was some kind of golden-brown-leaved scrubby tree growing all under the pines as we approached our parking area. In the late afternoon sun, the dead leaves had more shine than they probably deserved. It wasn't exactly Lothlorien, but it was pretty.

This hike was considered easier by the guys than our first one. Part of that is probably physical conditioning, but I think the greater part is psychological. This time, they knew what ten miles felt like, and didn't start begging for the end to come halfway through. Plus, there was more dirt road and less asphalt on this one. My feet are less beat up, since I put new insoles in my boots this morning and wore brand-new hiking socks.

We got back to our cars in six hours forty-five minutes, and were back in E-ville promptly at 4:30 p.m., just like we promised.

For pictures of the expedition, see below the cut.
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