When it came up at church we were going to do a Men’s Month, I knew I had to invite some men on a hike. I could not NOT do it. We’re men. Were supposed to be amongst the wild, camping, building fires, picking ticks off and walking long distances in the woods. Well, not really but it’s still a lot of fun.
I gave the guys who signed up a packing list a couple of months before we went and kept them informed of important hiking information.
We met at church and rode together to Land Between the Lakes to the Jenny Ridge park just a mile north of the Golden Pond Visitors Center. Here we all got our packs out. Some had old Army packs, new army packs, old hiking external frame backpacks and newer backpacks. It was cool to see the eclectic stylings of packs they brought. Some overpacked and others packed just enough.
We were ready to embark on what was supposed to be a six mile hike to camp which turned into an actual 7.85 mile hike up and down a few hills that led us through what we probably cussed the most, a muddy trail rutted out by horses. Plus the horses left us a few “trail apples” along the way. It made for a long hike up a few hills simply because it was slippery or we had to walk around the mud into vegetation with hungry ticks.
We took lunch on a side access road that led to a hay field. I laughed at the Makovecs because it was at lunch I learned why their packs weighed so heavy. They brought full cans of raisins and nuts, a whole box of crackers, a whole box of Pop-Tarts, and large summer sausage and all the water they would need instead of relying on my water filter to supply the water. Others brought some fruit and lighter foods. I had some beef jerky, Pringles, Cliff bars and some powdered Kool Aid.
After lunch, we worked our way onto camp getting to the shelter about 3:30. We left the trucks at 10:00 yet about two miles into it one of the men felt it was a much larger struggle than they expected to climb some of the terrain and he decided to turn back. Big props for him coming out and trying to join us on the hike. It was, I might add, a difficult hike considering the terrain as well as the mud. One of the other guys helped him get back to his truck and that set us back about 45 minutes.
Upon arrival to camp, we rested for a moment before building a fire and setting up tents. Kevin (another Kevin) did a fine job keeping the fire going throughout the trip. I’m glad he came because that gave me a chance to enjoy more than just keeping the fire. He enjoys that sort of thing too. A couple of guys slept in the shelter (which is not a bad shelter, I’ve slept in it before too) while the rest of who brought tents set up. I knew my tent was set up on a slight angle. That kept me sliding down in the tent all night but thankfully I was able to find a cheap air pad at an Army surplus store. It was far more comfortable than the blue foam pad I had bought for previous hikes. I ended up sleeping way better.
After camp was made, we all sat around the fire talking about everything in life and it became a game of who picked the most ticks off. David won the game. He said he picked as many as double digits of ticks off, some just crawling ans some embedded That may I say was the pinnacle of the trip. I love just sitting around the camp fire with no agenda but to enjoy the company. Everyone that came with the exception of me and another guy had served time in the Army and they sat around telling old war stories. I was in Heaven. I loved listening to my dad’s old war stories growing up so I was enjoying their stories.
For supper we all pretty much ate Mountain House dinners and talked about how good (or bad) they were. Pastor Carlo brought along civilian MREs. They looked pretty good too. LBL was full of horse riders that day and a couple came by after we ate and talked for a moment. Made us all wished we had rode horses to camp rather than walking, Lol.
We all crashed about 8:30. While trying to sleep, the woods decided to put on a show for us. An owl began hooting then afterwards, some of the guys said coyotes started up (I didn’t hear them). What I did hear was a serious buzzing that sounded like a helicopter just landed on the top of my tent. I have no clue what big bug that was but it had a crazy sound when if flapped it’s wings.
Morning time and Kevin already had the fire going so me and David (the tick magnet) sat around talking about how well we slept. Once everyone was up, we all had breakfast, tore down our tents and prepared to hike out. Most of us was sore form the previous day. I worked my soreness out by heading up the hillside on a side trail to do my business in the woods. I felt pretty good after that. (Sorry for the image, lol)
Unfortunately, upon starting our hike out of camp, we had to tackle one of the biggest hills we hiked on. This had us wore out from the get go. We quickly noticed that we were hiking at a very fast pace because we found ourselves making incredible timing. We found another place of shade to have lunch. I had some Ramen noodles and jerky, Pringles, Cliff bar, some cookies and Kool-Aid (Hiking makes you hungry).
Carlo was having issues with his hiking pack and had to do some work because he broke some rings that held his straps on. He quickly fixed them with some 550 chord but not without burning himself when some hot fibers fell on his fingers. Others had some issues with their packs being too heavy or not sitting well on the back or simply being uncomfortable. That’s the perils of hiking sometimes. If something doesn’t fit well, it can make a great experience suck!
After lunch we made our way out of the woods. As soon as we hit the Trace, we decided to shave an hour off and instead of hiking the rest of the way through the woods, we hiked (yellow blazed) the road back to the trucks. David (for some reason) decided to take the lead (probably just got in a zone) and lead us all on a very fast paced ruck march that simply killed my feet and legs. So bad that they really hurt on the drive home.
I will say it was one of the best hikes I have been on simply because the weather was perfect and I love the guys I went on the hike with. We’re planning another one in the fall.