Today we were aiming to reach the Tennessee-Alabama state line. And we did! Here’s how it went. Well, first I must recap the previous night.
The overnight low was about freezing (32 F. / 0 C.), so it was chilly. But we were warm in our tents. However, we decided to get dressed and eat breakfast in the bathroom at our camping site (Colbert Ferry), since it was heated and clean. We even brought our camp chairs in there!
As we neared the end of breakfast, a National Park Service employee arrived to clean the bathrooms. Oops! He said he’d come back later, and we felt badly about that.
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Next, two workers arrived. A crew was flushing out a sewer system, or something like that (it was hard to understand their strong accents). Amy and I had just discussed whether or not it was safe to leave our tents here all day, as we’d be camping here again tonight. We’d decided to take the chance. So we were a bit unnerved when one of the workers walked up and said,
“I really like this tent. What kind is it?” And then circled the tent slowly, staring at it. We answered his questions, and then Amy said, “We’re camping here again tonight. While you’re working here, please make sure no one takes our tents!” Good one.
Heading Out Toward the Tennessee-Alabama State Line
The weather forecast was for cool temps and a sunny day. Perfect! We began hiking and enjoyed the scenery. One major attraction was crossing the Tennessee River, which appears as huge as the Mississippi. It was quite impressive. Our camping spot, Colbert Ferry, was the site of a famous ferry business during the Trace’s heyday. The owner, part Scottish and part Choctaw, ferried 75,000 soldiers and horses home after the War of 1812, billing the federal government $75,000. Wow! Sadly, he was later forced off the land and onto the Trail of Tears (a Native American forced removal from ancestral lands to Oklahoma).
We arrived at Rocky Spring for lunch. I remember this spot when Ed and I biked the Trace in 2013. It was so beautiful in fall, and was still lovely in spring, but not quite as striking. I hiked the short trail, then Amy and I iced our legs while eating lunch.
Closing in on the State Line
Amy had taken a zero day yesterday due to shin splints/tendinitis. Today she wanted to hike just 15 miles (24.1 km) to be safe. So after Rocky Spring, when I had 11.5 miles (18.5 km) left, she did an out-and-back with me for five miles (8.1 km). After that, I was on my own.
I was struggling with my own leg issues, also some kind of tendinitis. It was painful at times, but I felt OK except for the last three miles (4.8 km).
Day Is Done
Back at camp, we were looking at a night that was 10 degrees warmer. Yes! Thankfully, our tents and the gear inside were still there. 🙂
Natchez Trace Miles Today: 21.5 (34.6 km)
NT Miles Overall: 342.8 (551.7 km)
NT Miles To Go: 101.2 (162.9 km)
A good book on the Natchez Trace is Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip, a Moon guide by Meg Littman that includes info on the Trace.
I really love my Big Agnes Copper Spur tent (two-person). Get yours here!