River to River Trail – Day 15

Tin Whistle Tunnel To Bay Creek Ranch
10 miles unintentionally

Waking up was better than yesterday, in spite of my not sleeping well.  I was itching to go, so we decided to forgo oatmeal and just have coffee and trail bars for breakfast.  As we were eating, we saw another large deer head in our direction before catching wind of us.  We’ve been seeing more and more deer along the way, and they are always a welcome sight.

We made great time and were on the trail by 8am, a real record I believe.  That bathtub was calling my name!  The trail wasn’t an easy one, but we walked it at a pretty good pace.  Still lots of deadwood everywhere and I’ve named this section the dead forest in my mind.

We were hitting all the Voigts points well, and off of a gravel path we saw the 001T sign.  Now the official trail number for the River to River Trail is 001, and since the markers have changed a handful of times along the way, we figured this was just another method for blazing the trail.  They were regularly placed, and as a result I didn’t question them and left my GPS off.

It was a beautiful path with trees, streams and bluffs.  The train tracks wet just to our right, and I knew that we were going to pass under them at our next transition.  Everything seemed on target and we kept moving.  We stopped for elevensies and I was feeling pretty great.  It was somewhere along the top of a large bluff that Arbor asked where the heck we were and I checked the GPS.

Oh gawd!  We were waaaaay off trail!  We had walked two miles out of our way, and boy did it tank my spirits.  I tried to bear in mind that it was the prettiest stretch we’d seen in a few days, but it was just so much work.  It ended up taking a full two hours and 4 miles out of our way, turning our total day ten miles, which turned a short easy day to a high mile day.

We got back on the gravel path and just 50 yards away was our train tunnel.  We zipped along underneath them, past the creek junction and hiked along the tracks for another mile before the large creek crossing.  This was the first time we’d taken off our shoes and switched into our crocs for a crossing.  There is just something very precious about dry shoes.  The only other time we’d have done it was at the cedar lake spillway, but we’d been rained on all afternoon then, and our shoes were soaked anyway.

Talking about the glory of crocs, their main function on this trip is as camp shoes.  After a long day of hiking, your feet are aching and swollen – trapped in tight confining hot trail runners.  There is nothing better than putting on the crocs to let your feet dry out and expand.

The crossing was no trouble at all and we switched our shoes out again.  Arbor asked if I wanted to stop and take a break, but I just really wanted to get to the ranch.  Up into the woods we went – up and up.  We made our way to Ruby junction, where several trails crossed paths.  We followed our River to River and not far up the hill we saw the sign for Bay Creek Ranch.  I grew wings on my feet and we flew down the trail unto we saw the turn off to trail 32, that would take us 1.5 miles to the ranch.

It was very hot at this point, and we ran out of water about halfway down the trail to the ranch, but we knew we weren’t far away.  I practically rejoiced when I saw the sign taking us off of trail 32 and up the path to the ranch.  We were panting and dripping with sweat when we made our way through the back side of the campground.

We worked our way to the front end and saw the lodge we were going to be staying in.  We dropped our packs there and walked to the office where we met with Chuck the owner.  He offered us a drink and I got a root beer and Arbor an orange soda.  Bliss.  We tried to pay for our room, but they only take cash or check, which may have gotten tricky because I didn’t know if we’d have enough money on is and I didn’t think to carry a checkbook.  He said to wait for his wife to get back from jury selection and to get settled in.

We dragged our packs into the air conditioned lodge and found our room.  They gave us the one with the en suite bathroom and two double beds – life just doesn’t get much better.  The lodge also has a kitchen and a living room with a tv and working VCR.  The office had a selection of tapes and Arbor brought back True Grit with John Wayne after throwing in our first load of laundry.  Oh yeah – we get to wash all of our clothes with real detergent in a real machine! We had the entire place to ourselves, so it felt like we got an entire home and not just a room.

We made ourselves comfortable on one of the sofas and started up the movie while Arbor rubbed my aching feet.  My husband is a prince among men.  We stopped and started the movie as we switched over loads of laundry and I took my bath.  I truly feel like a new woman after a piping hot bath.  I also took off my head bandage for the first time, and you can barely see the scratch anymore.  It’s still sore to the touch, but well on its way to healing.  After rifling through our bags, we did discover that we have just enough cash to cover the laundry and room which was a giant relief.  If only pizza was delivered this way – life may just have been perfect.

Arbor went to take his shower, and as he switched the water from tub to shower, the hot water handle shot out from the wall and water came gushing out.  Arbor yelled for help, and I went scrambling for the water heater, looking for the water shutoff.  It’s funny because this winter we had a pipe leak, and we became intimately familiar with shutting off the water main, so I felt uniquely qualified to go looking for it in this case.  I shut off the water, we tidied and Arbor got dressed, then I headed over to let Chuck and Diane know about the problem.

Chuck left to investigate and I had the chance to meet Linda and get to know her a little.  They have owned the ranch for almost ten years now, and are looking to sell.  It’s more work than they want to do at this stage of their lives.  She has come to love playing piano, and would just like the unfettered time to play whenever the mood strikes her.  She’s also an artist and paints animals on egg shells, turtle shells and tanned hides.  Her work is really very good and she says she has sold a lot through her office.  We talked about art and passions and she asked about our family and the hike.

I went to pay her and it turned out to be ten dollars more than stated on the website and what she quoted on the phone, but I don’t much like to argue and I was just so grateful to have the break that the extra money was worth it.

Chuck came back and said he’d need to call the plumber but that he thought they’d have to replace the whole unit and that we’d need to use the shower house next door for the toilet and shower and sinks.  Arbor is likewise surprised we didn’t get a discount for the inconvenience.  The plumber was due in an hour just to come look at the tub to see what parts would need to be replaced.

Arbor wanted to be around when the plumber came, so he could encourage him to turn on the cold water to the lodge so we could still use sinks and the toilet.  As such, he wanted to wait before showering and we watched the rest of True Grit and started on The Postman with Kevin Costner when he arrived.  He took ten minutes and fixed the problem entirely and we had both hot and cold water restored.  Huzzah!

Arbor showered while I resorted my pack and hydrated dinner.  We’re going to eat now and watch the rest of our cheesy 80s post apocalyptic movie and then get a good nights sleep.


2 thoughts on “River to River Trail – Day 15

  1. This is probably going to sound silly. You have your room, with the beds and bath..Is the room with all the couches and is the dining area, and the kitchen a shared space with other guests?

    • It’s essentially a trailer, and you can rent the whole thing or just a room and then you share the common spaces. (Except they have the living room listed as a possible “bedroom” too) We hiked during a bit of an off season, because it’s so hot and buggy. Spring and fall are optimal times for the horse ranches and hikers alike. It was lovely not to have to share.

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