Why go all the way to Ohio County for a hike? Well, twenty miles is twenty miles, and I wanted to allow fourteen hours for the hike. I figured that if we went camping, then we wouldn't waste time waiting for adults to drop kids off, driving to the trailhead, etc. And if we were in a cabin rather than tents, the amount of fiddling around with camp chores would be minimal. Both pointed to Wilderstead. As for staying a second night, I thought Zach (siege) and I would both be too tired to drive back three hours after hiking twenty miles (and I was right).
So, we drove the little boybarians out to Wilderstead, and they moved into the cabin. We got there about 9:00 p.m. Thursday, and were mostly quiet by 11:00. Marshall managed to build a fire in the fire pit by the last shred of daylight to pass a requirement for Second Class. We snacked on chips and salsa and had a quiet night.
Morning came way too early for most of the crew. I got up at 5:30 a.m. and gave first call. At 6:00, I told them breakfast was ready (no cooking involved, except for hot water for coffee or hot choc). By a few minutes before 7:00, we were walking up the road and on our way.
The guys had chosen a route that led them along the high ridges of Ohio County for the first part of the hike, then down into the Laughery Creek valley. The day opened breezy and bright, and we made good time. The critters were out playing the whole day. We saw at least a dozen deer on this trip, plus all kinds of butterflies, red-winged blackbirds, turkey vultures, and an amazing variety of roadkill. Michael managed to pass both his plant identification and animal identification requirements on this one day.
We stopped for lunch at the halfway point, under a bridge over the South Fork of Laughery. After ten miles, we were almost completely out of water. I was instructing the boys in how to use water filters when a local kindly offered us the use of his frost-free faucet's city water. Bonus!
We "caterpillared" back up the ridge and continued on our way. After a couple more miles, it began to spatter. By mile thirteen, we were in a rainstorm. We sat it out for a few minutes, then walked on in a light rain, descending steeply to the valley floor. A huge thunderclap burst right over us while we were walking along Laughery Creek. By mile fifteen, though, the rain was mostly over.
We hiked through Milton and finally got back to Wilderstead some twelve hours and fifteen minutes after leaving it. Quite a respectable time for twenty miles! We were all stiff and sore, and several were nursing blisters, but we were still on our feet and complaining was minimal.
The rain started up again, a steady drizzle, but we were inside and comfy. We made some hot soup and had supper. It was Michael's twelfth birthday (and he spent it hiking with us -- I'm touched), so we sang him the "Russian Happy Birthday Song" and had him blow out a candle. By 10:00, we were all crashed down for the night. I got up about 6:30 this morning; we were all cleaned up and out the door by 8:30 and home and dry by 11:30 a.m. Another great hike!
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