I woke up Wednesday morning with excitement. It had now come the time I had worked up to, studied up to and was just plain rip-rearing to go. I was about to head out to Land Between the Lakes (LBL) for a three-day, 30 mile hike with three guys I had never met before. One of them I had conversations with on Facebook.
I grabbed my gear, jumped in the truck and drove to the South Welcome Center at LBL. I approached the lady behind the counter to see where I might park near Golden Pond Center. I had heard that they closed the gates so I didn’t want my truck being locked in on Friday when we finished. She told me I could park at Jenny Ridge picnic area and access the trail from there. I grabbed three Snickers bars as a peace-offering and made my way north to Jenny Ridge. I texted Mark to let him know I would be meeting him a mile north than expected. When I arrived to the area, they had just gotten there as well. It was about ten o’clock in the morning.
I filled out the ticket that let LBL know I was in the woods and my itinerary, placed my pack on my back and took one step and said to myself, “This is the first step of many. May my feet be well and my heart be full.” Off on the trail I went.
I met Josh, one of the three I was meeting up with half way down the hill to the rendezvous point. We shook hands and introduced. Josh is Mark’s son. He is in the National Guard and attends Texas A&M. Go Aggies! Josh is a very witty person and I enjoyed getting to know him. He made me laugh so much on our trip. Just a very humorous guy.
We continued down the hill where we met up with Mark and Dalton. Dalton is Mark’s nephew. He attends APSU. He’s a quiet guy but when spoken to, he opens up and we had some great conversations. He’s a very laid back kinda person it seemed. So far, I really enjoyed those who I would be spending the next three days with and was very excited for the trip.
We started off towards Golden Pond so they could resupply. They had already been on the trail for three days since they started on Sunday. They were meeting up with one of Mark’s friends, Scott. Scott brought them McDonalds and lots of supplies for the next three days. As we talked, my tent came into conversation. It weighs about ten pounds and Mark suggested dropping it off with Scott. I didn’t argue with that since we’d be staying in shelters through our hike. It quickly took a load off my shoulders and I was thankful I took my pack weight from about 40 to about 30 lbs.
After Golden Pond, we made our way for six miles to Laura Furnace shelter. Mark and I talked a little getting to know each other and discussing all things hiking and talking shop on our packs and what we were carrying.
We had been on the trail for a couple of hours when we came across School House Hollow sign. Mark had seen this before and wanted to see the old school-house. I was up for a treat as well. Josh and Dalton weren’t exactly up for it. We decided to go check it out since we thought it was only three tenths of a mile off the trail. We ended up walking a little over a mile and never found it and came to the conclusion the school-house doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s just a hollow with the school-house hollow spring. (We did find the spring). Josh was none to happy.
We got back on the trail and a little further down decided to take a lunch break. I had tuna and beef jerky and water and a side dish of jealousy. They had Pringles and candy bars and lemonade and Pop-Tarts. Lemonade sounded so good and I didn’t bring any candy.
After lunch, we came across a stream that we were unable to cross. Dalton found what looked to be an old railroad tie and him and Mark carried it over to the stream and we walked across it. Along the trail we saw parts and pieces of a beat up very old truck. Not sure how the truck parts got spread out over six miles but it was very interesting.
We finally made it to our first shelter, Laura Furnace by 3:00 PM. It was a very cozy shelter made up of a metal half pipe. We all picked our spots, and began gathering fire wood. I on the other hand helped a little with the firewood but mostly baby’ed my feet and watched Josh as he started the fire.
After we all had settled down, Josh initiated the Pee Tree, I watched the fire, Dalton went off to crap in the woods and Mark went to find out where the side trail met up with the main trail so we wouldn’t have to backtrack in the morning. When he got back, I made Macaroni Zitti, and they threw two cans of ham on the fire. After I ate mine, I joined them with a ham sandwich covered with honey I scavenged from KFC.
We finished supper by 8 and we were in our sleeping bags by 8:30. We heard a few coyotes in the distance and I sat there grinning from ear to ear. I was in the woods and loving every minute of it.