River to River Trail – Day 19

Little Lusk Creek to One Horse Gap
6 Miles

It didn’t rain terribly long last night, and the worst of it was in the first 30 minutes.  Mostly it was just canopy dripping on is all night long and into the morning, but that’s no big deal.  My underquilt had shed all of its dampness by morning and I’m quite impressed at its ability to recover.  The rain seems to have cooled things down a bit, which is a welcome relief.

We ate breakfast, joked about monkey birds and forest dolphins and started our morning routines.  I’m beginning to think that Arbor gets slower every day.  I must have sat around, all packed up, for an hour while I waited for him to finish. Little Lusk Creek was just a jog ahead of us, and it would be a crocs crossing, so we tied our shoes to our backpacks and walked in crocs for the stretch.

We stopped at the creek to filter water for the day.  We didn’t think there’d be water where we’d be stopping, so we need to load up to have enough for a full day and night.  While we were filtering, a group of three women rode by on horses and we had a brief exchange while they made their way across the water.  It’s a weekend now, and we’re in some pretty popular areas, so we expect to see a lot more people over the next couple of days.

Just five minutes later, we saw six cyclists zipping down the trail, while the lead bike yelled to push hard up the hill.  He and the next two bikes made it, but the fourth got stuck and there was a near pile up while the rest had to stop and walk their bikes over the hump.  They said hello to us and cruised along their way.

We waded in the water while waiting for the water filtered.  We saw a dozen variety of small fish and a ton of crayfish.  This was an exciting development for me, as I’d never seen any before.  Filtering took a long time because we were loading up on so much.  I was carrying five liters and Arbor had eight.  This is because we were fairly certain there would be no water at our camp tonight, so we needed enough to get us through two days.  We’ll need to do that again the day after next.  Boy does water weigh a lot!

We walked a mile out of the forest onto a road and past a really neat abandoned baptist church.  We turned a corner and headed down a long hill. The area was well marked and we were feeling good, even in the sun. Going downhill always helps.  A truck drove by, turned around and stopped next to us to say that we were going the wrong way.  This was confusing as the signs said we were on the right path, as did our maps and gps.  He said we were following the old trail and seemed to suggest we take the road into Herod.  We finally told him we were headed to One Horse Gap and then he said we were going the correct way for that, but that we were essentially doing a loop out of our way.  A lot of locals seem to feel that the River to River trail creators were crazy and made all kinds of ridiculous paths with extra walking.  They don’t seem to realize that road walking is not fun.

Does this look like a trail to you?

We turned back into the woods and headed a gradual but steady uphill climb for two long miles.  Man oh man did that tire me out!  I know I’m getting stronger, but those unending up hills are tough no matter what.  We turned onto a road again and hen couldn’t find our way back to the path.  After walking back and forth a few times, we finally found it.  Thank goodness for the GPS, because we never would have found it otherwise.  It was another of the trails that didn’t see horse traffic and was all overgrown.

We hiked through a dry scrabbly area with high grasses for a mile and a half, and when we came out to the junction, we were covered in ticks.  I pulled ten off of my pants and another six embedded in Arbors legs, because he had decided to wear his dry shorts instead of his wet pants. (That had hung in the rain). The last half mile to one horse gap was a steep climb up that had me dizzy from exhaustion by the time we finally got there.

The Voights book said there were several good campsites, but I had been concerned with how high up we were that there would only be tent areas.  Fortunately we found suitable trees.  The biggest advantage to regular camp spots is the open space and lack of weeds, so you don’t have to be ever vigilant about where you step.

We took off our packs, rested and then explored the area.  There is a terrific bluff just above where we’re sleeping, you just have to climb the gap and you’re on top of all the rock.  It would be a fun area to camp, and there is even a metal fire ring up ere.  We got some good photos and then climbed back down to finish setting up.

We were just starting dinner when we heard voices coming up the trail.  Three young women on horses and their dog came around the corner near our camp.  We stood up and said hello, and their dog came to greet us.  They ignored us, called their fog away and rode on by without even acknowledging our existence.  They rode up through the gap, explored the bluffs and came back down.  I stood again and said goodbye, and they didn’t even look in our direction.  It’s the first time we have encountered anything but absolute kindness in the trail.  It was actually very disconcerting.

We ate dinner and joked and did a serious tick check before retreating to the hammocks to escape the horse flies.  Boy those seed ticks are hard to find, but find them we did. I finished Watership Down last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I never read it as a kid, and now wish I had.  It’s really a wonderful book, and especially suited for a long hike.  Now I’m starting Sand by Hugh Howey.  I’ve read his Wool series and loved it like crazy, so I’m especially looking forward to this one.  Sun goes down in an hour.


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