I experienced two very different hikes this past weekend. Saturday was beautiful weather – Sunday was overcast and threatened rain all day. Saturday’s hike was dry for the most part with a few slippery spots scattered along the way. Sunday’s hike was muddy and sloppy with a few dry spots on the ridges. I hiked 21 miles on Saturday and 13 miles on Sunday. But the hike on Sunday was so much more challenging and a far greater adventure than Saturday’s experience.
Saturday’s hike started at 8:10 (just after sunrise). I was at Caesar Creek and I made the first 13-mile loop around the lake without difficulty. After pausing for a short lunch break, I headed off for a second loop. I knew I had to hustle because of the daylight hours were quickly passing by. I hiked past the Day Lodge – an hour into the second loop. I was about another half hour past the Lodge when that slippery patch was hiding under some carefully placed leaves. I stepped on the patch just right (or maybe that should be just “wrong”) and my right foot found no traction at all. The slow motion fall began. I saw the tree coming…it wasn’t very big but it was big enough to stop me with a jolt. It was the first time during a hike that I was concerned that I might have hurt myself. My other falls have been immediately followed by my laughter and feelings of stupidity. This one hurt and groans replaced my guffaws. I unwrapped myself from the maple, got up and decided to walk off the discomfort. I know the trail fairly well and after about 15 minutes, I was anticipating coming to a 90 degree turn to the left and a friendly fallen tree where I have eaten many snacks. Instead I caught a glimpse of the day lodge through the barren branches of the forest – somehow I had gotten myself turned around and went back the other way. It was too late to turn around yet again (there was not enough daylight to hike the second loop) so I cut the hike short and trekked back to the welcome center and then to my car on the other side of the dam.
Sunday was predicting rain all day. But right after lunch I decided that it was going to be a fine day for a stroll. I headed off to Germantown. It was a beautiful hike on a connector trail from the parking lot toward G’town and back again (about 5 miles). Then things really slowed down. The flash floods of last week had left the trail a virtual mud swamp. The mud was thick and unavoidable…. lots of downed trees and debris scattered about. There was nowhere to go to the left or the right so I just sloshed through the trail (in sandals) – I could not have been traveling more than 2 miles an hour. I was so slow that I was not sure I could make it to my car before dark. Instead of a nice break at the nature center, I took a 5 minute snack break. (I only took off my pack twice in 5 hours). It began to reach dusk and I had about two miles to go. The timing made those last two miles hard to see with bifocals and I had to hike some slippery hills (both down and up). I began to involuntarily ski down a rather steep grade. I saw a nice tree along the side that I thought could slow my skid before I hit a root that would topple me into a face plant. I grabbed the tree which greeted me with friendly arms… but my trekking pole planted itself on the side of the hill and smacked me in the mouth! Now, I just had dental work done a few weeks ago to a front tooth and I just knew that I was going to be spending more time, and more money, in “the chair.” My lip was a little busted but all my teeth were secure!!
G-Town is wonderful. It is one of the more difficult trails in the area with lots of change of elevation – add water and mud and wet leaves and you have an exciting roller coaster. No adversity…no adventure.