River to River Trail – Day 9

Panthers Den to Bork’s Falls
7.29 miles

It rained most of the night.  Since we were close to a creek bed, and after my experience with the flooding near Cedar Lake, I worried about the waters rising to our hammocks.  I even had nightmares about it!  It was all for naught, however, as things were just fine in the morning.  Even though it wasn’t actively raining when we woke, the trees had caught all the rain all night, and for the rest of the morning the leaves shook down a steady sprinkle.  Still better than breaking down in real rain, though.

Shortly after waking up, we were startled by a loud moo!  We had passed farm pasture on the way into the area, so cows couldn’t be far away.  We’d even heard the oddest noise late into the evening, and we couldn’t tell if it was hounds or cows or something all together else.

Arbor likely went to bed dehydrated, and with his snoring on top of that, he woke with a headache which made the morning progress slow going.  We’ve considered changing his trail name to “bottle neck” because of how he’s always the last to finish breaking down and setting up.  With this morning even being slower than that, you. An imagine the late start we had.

We did manage to get moving by 10am and it was a long uphill climb out of the wilderness.  I was trying to keep my feet relatively dry on the sloshy path, when my foot sunk deeply in he mud and I let out a loud curse.  In quick reply there was an equally loud huffing, and I turned to see the disapproving cows judging my decorum.  Ever upward with one dry shoe and one wet shoe, we made our way out to the road.

Just around the bend, we walked past a farmer who waved and said hello.  As he saw us taking pictures of the landscape, he called us over and said he had something to show us.  He hollered and banged in the metal gate, and before long three mules came cantering our direction. This also explains the odd sounds the night before – it was the mules braying. We all got to chatting and he told us that the trail got pretty decent traffic both by hikers and by horseback riders.  He said it was hard to say which he saw more frequently, as it varied from year to year.

He then introduced us to the mules, who were eager for scratching and attention.  He talked at length about their intelligence, utility and their love for him.  He said he took them out coon hunting with his dogs and how good they were at it.  It was clear that he cared deeply for them and I was so glad to have the chance to pet them and share in that affection.

Today was going to be largely road walking, as we headed toward highway 57.  What really helped was that we had driven lost of these roads on the way to the zip line tour, so all the landmarks were familiar and we were able to make quick work of it.

As we crossed the highway, we found a tree in the shadow of a cell tower and we stopped for a quick lunch and used the time to text friends and family, call my mom and update our Instagram accounts.  My iPad is wifi only, so I wasn’t able to upload blog posts, but I really hope we can find a spot in Goreville tomorrow.

We pushed on down the road and it was all down hill from there.  It wasn’t long before we stumbled across a number of people with their kids at what appeared to be to top of a waterfall.  We could hear voices below too, so it must be a popular spot.  We didn’t linger though, because rain was threatening overhead and we wanted to get to camp for a dry setup.

We might as well have, because it was just minutes later that the rain came and we trudged along looking for a good spot for the night.  We found one uphill from the path, just below some gorgeous rock bluffs.  We put up our tarps and hammocks in the rain, and 20 minutes later it stopped, although we had some time to go before the leaves stopped spitting on us.  The sun came out, streaming through the canopy and turned the whole area into an enchanted landscape.  Breathtaking.

Arbors poison ivy has been both spreading and getting worse.  We brought ivy block, ivy oil remover and a scrub.  He went down to the stream to gather water to do his ivy routine and I started today’s blog and set dinner to steeping in our cozy.

Today marks the second day we haven’t gotten lost and I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting my trail legs.  Here’s hoping that is a continuing trend.


2 thoughts on “River to River Trail – Day 9

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