Today’s hike to Collinwood should have been great. After all, it was our shortest day, at 13.2 miles (21.2 km). Also, we had booked a night’s stay at Miss Monetta’s Country Cottage, a lovely spot run by lovely people whom Ed and I met eight years ago. But the day did not go as planned.
First, there were some sprinkles in the morning (not in the forecast). Despite the minimal rain, it was enough to wet our tents. Rats. We again breakfasted in the bathrooms, although we left early when our janitor friend arrived. We didn’t want to make him have to come back to clean two days in a row!
Heading to Collinwood
I headed out before Amy because I wanted to check out Tom’s Wall, a famous spot just off the Trace. The quick story: a man named Tom built a stone wall (a really long one) to commemorate an ancestor’s hike along the Trail of Tears. Not just her forced hike to Oklahoma, but her return on foot to Tennessee, because she didn’t like Oklahoma. The place is super cool and I hope to write a story on that in the future.
Anyway, Amy joined me after my foray to Tom’s Wall (she’d seen it yesterday). As soon as we began hiking, we realized our legs were trashed. Or, rather, our right legs. We both had the same issue – some shin splint pain on the front of the leg, plus some muscular pain just to the right. After pondering this, plus recalling some cyclists telling us they’d heard hiking the Trace is brutal on the legs, we figured there must be enough of a slant/camber to the parkway that, while hiking in the same direction, overworks certain tendons and muscles.
We tried hiking with traffic (not fun on a busy parkway) to alter what our legs had been going through. We couldn’t tell if it helped or not. The day was pretty miserable.
Enjoying Miss Monetta’s Country Cottage
We had another problem looming. It was supposed to starting raining/storming tonight. Yay, because we’d booked a stay at Miss Monetta’s. But boo, because the rain was supposed to continue all day. That means tomorrow night we’d be camping on muddy ground.
We decided that between our leg issues and the rain, we’d book a second night at Miss Monetta’s. Luckily, our little cottage was available the next night, too. So we limped into town at the end of the afternoon, feeling somewhat defeated.
Hiking long-distance trails is all about pivoting. Because something always goes wrong. Our plans are still in flux right now. We’ll probably take tomorrow totally off, although we might hike a few miles around Collinwood in between the rain. It will help that we have two more trail segments in our final days; trails are MUCH easier on the legs and body, as they’re soft and keep you moving in different angles and planes. We’ve now added an extra day to our itinerary, due to the rain and leg pains, but we can’t extend much beyond that. Hmm.
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Tonight we feasted on a super greasy dinner of fried catfish and homemade onion rings (me) and homemade chicken fingers (Amy), a specialty at Meme’s in Collinwood. Dianne, one of the cottage owners, is doing our laundry, as this unit (one of two) is the one without laundry facilities. I soaked my leg in Epsom salts and now am icing it. I hope it holds up! I’ve got less than 100 miles (160.9 km) to go.
Natchez Trace Miles Today: 13.2 (21.2 km)
NT Miles Overall: 356 (572.9 km)
NT Miles To Go: 88 (141.6 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 Dr. Teal’s scented Epsom salts, especially lavender and eucalyptus. Get yours here!