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Buckeye Trail Map
Buckeye Trail Blog Post #10 (Final)
I'm now just a couple of days from finishing this hike! It's been an exciting last couple of weeks, including a day or so of dealing with a weather system that brought quite a bit of rain... and with it, incentive to put in one of my longest days on the trail so far.
After the VFW event in Piketon, I headed back to the trail... walking out of Waverly along rural roads. At about five miles out, I found a box turtle sitting in the road, basking in the sun... inches from certain death. What to do? I found a Powerade bottle in the ditch and transformed it into a portable terrarium. I carried the box turtle the rest of the way, to Pike Lake State Park, where it was released unharmed... and where I proceeded to camp for the night.
Over the next several days, I walked more rural roads, passing through Pike County and making my way into Adams County. I briefly stopped at the Serpent Mound, before hiking south to Peebles. On 28 September, the rain started... and didn't let up for the entire day. It came in waves, one after another, and I hiked through it putting in 28 miles to get to Shawnee Lodge at Shawnee State Park. The long day put me well ahead of schedule... and gave me some time off to rest up.
The main reason I needed the rest was so I could run the Buckeye Trail Marathon on 1 October... but, unfortunately I was still having some foot problems and with all of the recent rain I decided to play it safe and avoided the great temptation to run. No need to hurt myself and end up horizontal with being so close to the end of this hike. So... maybe I'll have to run it next year.
On Saturday, after the rains passed, it was time to get down to Portsmouth in anticipation of the evening meet-up at the American Legion. Upon arriving at the hotel, a guest hiker made her appearance... Diana Brown, who was going to join me for a few days on the Buckeye Trail. Diana is from Ohio and recently finished a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, also with Warrior Expeditions. Apparently, she wasn't quite ready to be done hiking for the season... so, here she was, ready to experience a little bit of the Buckeye Trail.
On Sunday morning, our hosts took us out to the trail, picking up where I had left off at Shawnee State Park. This was a part of the trail I was apprehensive about due to seeing so many unmaintained sections in the past month. But, after just a few minutes down the trail, to our relief, it looked to be well maintained. We hiked on... up and over hills, getting some help from a few switchbacks here and there. We did finally reach a part of the trail that had quite a few downed trees, but were able to navigate around. Nearing the end of the day, we crested a ridge and found a place to camp on a hill, strategically stopping just a short walk from where the trail would end for us... and a multi-day road-walk would begin. Hashtag Buckeye Trail!
Over the next couple of days, we walked various kinds of roads... from gravel to blacktop, and back to gravel... then blacktop. We watched the big hills give way to smaller hills. And, as usual when road-walking in Ohio, we were greeted by a lot of dogs none were a problem! We also ran into a school field trip, which was out of the ordinary, but fun. For resupply, we hitchhiked to West Union, making our first stop at Mikey's Family Restaurant... where bacon double cheeseburgers and fries were washed down with sodas. Then, to UDF for my favorite trail treat a milkshake! That night, we stealth camped at a country club golf course... which was probably the flattest place I've tented for the entire hike!
On Wednesday, we reached the town of Russellville... where Diana had planned to stop, and where I intended to camp for the night. We found a place called "Uncle Eddie's" and proceeded to put away a couple of beers and a lot of food. Are you seeing a theme yet? Hiking... eating... more hiking... more eating. It's a vicious cycle. Diana then caught a ride back to Portsmouth where she had left her car. Not 15 minutes after she left, a local trail angel who had met Martin on the trail came looking for me by following the route backwards... and I ended up being housed for the night. Shower, dinner, great "hiker" conversation, sleep... in a bed!
On Thursday, after starting back up in Russellville, I made my way northwest... covering about 15 miles, stopping for the day at Mt Orab. This morning, I left there and headed toward Williamsburg, arriving around mid morning. First stop, Holtman's donuts! Then, back on the trail... which became a bike path entering East Fork State Park... and finally more roads. In the park, I opted to hike the bridle trails as much as possible, staying off the road while trying my best to navigate directly to the west. A couple of hours later, I made it to Batavia and went straight to the UDF for... you guessed it... a milkshake. When I went inside, I noticed Martin's backpack leaning against the wall. It's pretty much a given that long distance hikers will end up frequenting the same places... often due to the need for ice cream and other sugary snacks.
After downing a milkshake and a root beer, I opted to keep hiking, even though I had already put in over 20 miles. My goal was to get to a hotel so I could relax and have a final day off before making the last push to the finish. So, after nearly a 30 mile day my longest day so far... here I am... resting in a comfortable bed just a few hours walk from the end of this 3-month long adventure.
It's been quite a long walk... not at all what I expected in so many ways, and more than I expected in so many others. There has been a lot of highs and lows... and many emotions. I met so many kind people... quite a few that invited me in, fed me, and made sure I had a place to rest. I also saw some of the worst in people, usually just for a split second as they tried to run me down in their cars.
Overall, I'm glad I gave the Buckeye Trail a chance. It's definitely one of the most mentally challenging things I've ever done. Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Not a chance.
Thanks to everyone that helped out along the way. Your actions made a huge difference and were an enabler in the success of this walk. Special thanks goes out to Warrior Expeditions for bringing me on to hike again this year.
For nearly 1444 miles, the Buckeye Trail winds around Ohio, reaching into every corner of the state. From a beachhead on Lake Erie near Cleveland, to a hilltop overlooking the Ohio River in Cincinnati, a hiker can experience a little of all that Ohio has to offer Learn more: www.buckeyetrail.org