Today’s new goal was hiking from Shoemaker Road to Nipgen. It wasn’t my original plan, and I can sometimes get obsessive about following my itinerary. But when it comes to long-distance hiking, flexibility is key. I’m continuing to learn and practice this lesson.
With the amount of downed brush, not to mention the hills, I was hiking more slowly than normal. Sure, I could grind out 20 miles (32.2 km), finishing at 7 p.m. But that’s no fun. You drive back to your campsite or lodging, which takes additional time, and by the time you clean up and eat, it’s time for bed. Just not enjoyable.
That being said, I pretty much had to schedule a 19-miler (30.6 km) today, due to the fact that you have to be able to park your car at an official parking lot or a friendly business. I elected to leave my car in Nipgen, at the great-named “Fredneck’s Mini Mart.”
Heading to Nipgen
Nancy, Stephanie and I had a great conversation en route to Shoemaker Road about bucket-list trips and hikes. Stephanie will give me tips on Hawaii, where she’s from and I’ve long wanted to go, and I’ll help her with the Camino de Santiago, which I’ve done three times.
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Once deposited on Shoemaker Road, I had a short road walk until the trail. This first section was difficult, because there was a lot of downed brush and larger trees. I lost the trail several times. But the good news was that this initial section was the worst of the day.
After that, I entered Pike State Forest, which was better maintained and more traveled. I passed two sets of two men who were turkey-hunting, so we chatted a little. Later, I saw one duo in Pike Lake State Park, where they were camping.
I hit the state park at lunchtime, and thought I’d enjoy my lunch sitting at an actual picnic table. Unfortunately, the weather seemed to have gotten colder and windier right around this time, and the picnic tables were in the direct wind. I ended up sitting on the backside of a porta-potty to have my lunch, as it shielded me from the wind.
The climb up from the lake was quite steep, but the trail was relatively clear, so I was happy. Toward the end of the day, it actually got relatively flat. Nancy and Stephanie said there were four stream crossings that were calf-deep, so I’d brought a towel and my water shoes. But I was able to cross them all on rocks, just getting a toe here or there damp. YES!
The end of the day was a road walk into Nipgen. I wanted to order pizza from Fredneck’s, but I didn’t want to wait for it in the car. So I headed back to Mapleberry Farm and my warm garden shed lodging.
Oh – I did pass a fifth turkey hunter. I actually saw a plastic turkey decoy he had set on the trail, and was going to take a photo of it when he made a noise and I saw him crouching in the leaves. Apparently there was a turkey nearby that he was hoping to catch. He motioned me on, whispering I should walk quietly. So I tiptoed away for quite a ways. I hope he got his turkey!
NCT Miles Today: 18.8 (30.3 km)
Ohio NCT miles to date: 493.2 (793.7 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 2,446.7 (3,937.6 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 2,153.3 (3,465.4 km)