Today’s trek to the Latham area wasn’t quite what I’d planned. Here’s what happened.
I awoke early in order to break camp and drive back to Sinking Spring. Since I was getting an end-of-day shuttle from Nancy Jane and Stephanie, I’d be driving to my starting point instead of my ending point. I got on the trail shortly after 8 a.m., which is pretty early for me. But I had a nearly-21-miler (33.8 km) on the schedule, almost all of it off-road. I was leery about being able to finish this at a decent hour, due to all of the blow-down on the trail – not to mention the fact that it rained a lot last night.
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This stretch began with a few miles on the roads before entering the Fort Hill Earthworks and Nature Preserve. It was cool and cloudy out, but still beautiful. The trails here were in great condition, and showcased creeks and cool rock formations. I didn’t notice any earthworks (the ones here were built by the ancient Native American Hopewell people), but perhaps those were on another trail.
Making My Way Toward Latham
At one point, the trail led through an old cabin. Ha! Shortly before lunchtime, it passed the old Butler Cemetery. This tiny patch of land appears to contain the graves of a handful of members of the Butler family, dating to the 19th century.
It was after the cemetery that the hardships began. First, there was a short, but nasty, trek through overgrow vegetation, including a lot of briars. After that, there was just so much blow-down. It slowed me way down, I got off-track a bit, etc. In two spots, there were signs warning you that if you continued, you’d be trespassing on private property. That made me uncomfortable, but that’s where the trail was blazed, plus it showed this route on my app. I hoped I was taking the correct route.
By early afternoon I was messaging my shuttlers to say I’d be stopping earlier than planned, as it would take too long to hike the full 21 miles (33.8 km) in these conditions. Interestingly, the end of the trail segment featured a river that you had to cross by walking on top of a concrete slab over which the river flowed. I was a little nervous it would be dangerous, but it was fine.
Camping in a Garden Shed
Tonight and tomorrow night, I’m staying at Mapleberry Farm. The trail passes right in front of this place, and the owners were said to be amazing trail angels. Indeed! I’d planned to camp on their property, but since it’s going to be about 32 F. (0 C.) tonight, they said I should set up inside their garden shed. Thanks! They also offered me a shower and wifi. How nice!
Tonight, I have to recalculate my last few days here, now that I’ve deviated from my plan. I don’t like doing that, but that’s life – and especially life on the trail. You have to be able to pivot. So I’m pivoting tonight.
NCT Miles Today: 18.0 (29 km)
Ohio NCT miles to date: 474.4 (763.5 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 2,427.9 (3,907.3 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 2,172.1 (3,495.7 km)