Ed left for home today, so my first order of business was filling in the gap between the Choctaw Agency at mile post 100.7 and the southern terminus of the Yockanookany section, a distance of 7.2 miles (11.6 km).
If you recall, I’d skipped that little piece yesterday so Ed could enjoy hiking all of Yockanookany on his last day, plus get off the busy roads, which were bugging him. It also assisted in our shuttling plans. Anyway, before Ed left we dropped my car at the southern end of Yockanookany (mile post 108), and then he shuttled me back to Choctaw Agency.
I hiked those 7.2 miles (11.6 km) back to my car easily, as it wasn’t too hot yet. While there was a fair amount of traffic around Jackson, it lessened the farther north I hiked. Yes! I also got to see the pretty reservoir again.
After Filling in the Gap
Back at Yockanookany and my car, I shuttled myself back up to the northern end where we’d finished and camped last night. I tried to hike Yockanookany southbound to see if I could get in a few miles on the actual trail before the flooding began, but I only made it about 10 minutes in before the expansive boardwalk I was on took a nosedive into what can only be called a lake. Sigh. The flooding made it impossible to proceed.
So now what? Well, with no shuttles or trail angels or local taxis available, I did a five-mile (8.1 km) out-and-back for a total of another 10 miles (16.1 km), or 17.3 miles (27.8 km) for the day.
A Fun, Serendipitous Encounter
When I drove back up to Yockanookany North around noon, I ran into three female cyclists taking a break. They were part of a group of eight women from Grand Marais, Minn., and were very warm and friendly. While doing my out-and-back hike, I ran into them again. They’d set up camp at an interpretive site around mile post 136 and invited me to join them.
I had planned to camp in my same spot at Yockanookany North, but after hiking back to my car and washing up, I drove to their site and set up camp with them instead. We discovered two crazy coincidences.
The Crazy Coincidences
First, I’m hoping to hike the Kekekabic Trail (somewhat) near Grand Marais in the next month or two. I’m also trying to locate a guy nicknamed Kek Man, who lives along the trail in the temperate months. I asked if anyone knew this guy or how to reach him, and they did!
Second, one woman was named Jane Shinners. I said I’d remember her name because there was a Shinners family in my hometown of Sheboygan, Wis. Turns out her husband is one of the Shinners kids! Two of my siblings had a Shinners in their class, and my younger sister reminded me that yet another Shinners sibling was the home health care nurse who delivered a bili paddle to our house when our youngest was born with severe jaundice. What a small world!
The cyclists are riding with a support vehicle. The ladies said they can shuttle me tomorrow so I don’t have to do another out-and-back hike before Amy arrives. How sweet!
Natchez Trace Miles Today: 17.3 (24.9 km)
NT Miles Overall: 142.9 (230 km)
NT Miles To Go: 301.1 (484.6 km)
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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.