Natchez Trace (Hiking) 2021

  • Getting Ready to Hike the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail (4/14/2021) - I'm super excited to start my thru-hike of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail tomorrow! A quick background on this hike. Back in 2013, when I first thru-hiked the Ice Age Trail and fell in love with thru-hiking I had a travel writers' conference in Biloxi, Mississippi. I knew there was another National Scenic Trail nearby – the Natchez Trace – and decided to thru-hike it after the conference.
  • Day 1: Southern Terminus to Potkopinu (4/6/2021) - My first-day itinerary called for hiking about 20 miles (32.2 km) from the southern terminus to the end of the Potkopinu section. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail consists of 62 miles (99.8 km) of trail along the 444-mile (714.6-km) parkway. The first trail segment is a 3-mile (4.8-km) stretch called Potkopinu, from about mile post 17 to 20.
  • Day 2: Potkopinu to Port Gibson (4/7/2021) - Today's itinerary called for hiking nearly 20 miles (32.2 km) to the Port Gibson area. Last night, camping at Coles Creek, was OK. It was warm and stuffy in the tent until the middle of the night, when it got cooler. We heard a lot of owls hooting, and some local dogs barking on and off. Every once in a while a vehicle rumbled past.
  • Day 3: Port Gibson to Rocky Springs (4/8/2021) - Today's goal was Rocky Springs, the second of five sections of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. It lay at the very end of the day. I was excited. Little did I know what this day would bring. The morning went well. It was sunny and warm out, but not too humid, and with a nice breeze. The only negative was that there seemed to be an awful lot of non-tourist cars on the Trace, many zooming by at far above the speed limit. The parkway is supposed to be mainly for tourists driving at a leisurely pace, not for those using it as a highway. But this gets abused a lot.
  • Day 4: Rocky Springs to South of Clinton (4/9/2021) - Today's hike was from the northern terminus of the Rocky Springs section to mile post 79 – a little under 20 miles (32.2 km). But first, a short recap of last night. The Rocky Springs campground was reasonably full. Strangely, while the bathrooms were open, there were no lights or soap. There were a lot of bugs out, but nothing was biting us or following us into our tent or the car. (Phew!)
  • Day 5: South of Clinton to Jackson (4/10/2021) - Our goal today was reaching the 100-mile (160.9-km) mark, which is in the Jackson, Miss. area. The storm that was predicted did sweep through overnight, so we woke up to gray, drizzling conditions. By the time we headed out, though, the rain had ended. Yay!
  • Day 6: Yockanookany (4/11/2021) - Because Ed is leaving tomorrow, I amended my itinerary so that today was hiking all of the Yockanookaney section of the Trace. Again, there are five sections of National Scenic Trail along the Trace. Yockanookaney is the third of the five, and the longest at 24.9 miles (40.1 km).
  • Day 7: Filling in the Gap (4/12/2021) - 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.
  • Day 8: Kosciusko or Bust (4/13/2021) - My goal today was hitting the town of Kosciusko, where Oprah Winfrey was born. But first, let's talk about the night. The Grand Marais ladies all went into their tents around 8:30, I think. I was the last one up and outside, but got into my tent by 9 p.m. and did some writing on my laptop. It was lights out by 9:30 p.m. Since we'd gotten to bed so late last night due to the motorcyclist encounter, I figured I'd fall asleep right away. WRONG.
  • Day 9: Kosciusko to French Camp (4/14/2021) - Today's goal was French Camp, about 20 miles (32.2 km) up the parkway. Last night, the weather forecast called for rain/thunderstorms overnight and into today, tapering to "just" rain by the end of the day. I wasn't sure what I'd do re: hiking, as it would depend on the severity of the storms. Well, apparently the severe weather moved south overnight, along with much of the rain.
  • Day 10: French Camp to Ballard Creek (4/15/2021) - Today's hike was a trek from was French Camp to Ballard Creek. My friend and fellow travel writer, Amy Eckert, would be joining me tonight. Yay! Before I began hiking, I first looked around French Camp. This is one of the more extensive stops on the Natchez Trace.
  • Day 11: Ballard Creek to Old Trace (4/16/2021) - Twenty miles (32.2 km) up the road today was a section of the Old Trace. Amy and I started the same leapfrogging shuttle system Ed and I employed, where we drove up to the next pullout, then hiked south. After that, we leapfrogged the car at the first pullout, then stopped at the second and hiked south to the first. Today was cool and gray. Rain was forecast from about 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. Hmm. What to do? It's one thing to set up camp in the rain. Or break camp in the rain. But we didn't like the idea of setting up camp in the rain, having to huddle in our tents for the early evening hours, then breaking camp in the rain the next morning.

 

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