Category Archives: Hiking

Red River Gorge Backpack, KY

Participants: Danielle Griffin, George Lindley, Kathy Koning, Kristen Koning, Sarah Koning, Jim Mata, Donald Nelson, Brock Schaffer, Leslie Schaffer, Barry Tague

We met at 9:00 AM on Saturday morning on the south side of Indianapolis. After introductions and loading of gear, we drove four hours to Red River Gorge for a Memorial Day weekend hike. After
stopping for parking permits, lunch, and shuttling cars, we started out on the Sheltowee Trace Trail, beginning at the Corner Ridge Trailhead on the north side of the park. We hiked about three miles following turtle blazes and set up camp near the Lost Branch Trail. Due to starting later in the day, we found the best campsites already occupied and end up staying about ¼ mile uphill from the river
which was our needed water source. After setting up camp and cooking a group dinner, several people went down to the river to pump water. While the weather was perfect during the day, the night
temperatures were a bit cooler than some had anticipated.

After waking on Sunday and cooking a hot breakfast, we started on our eight mile hike past many beautiful and popular landmarks. We first came across the Indian Steps where we watched people
rappelling off of the cliff. We continued on the trail, crossing two small creeks, and climbed to Indian Arch which was a remarkable sandstone formation. After hiking along several scenic cliffs, we crossed a suspension bridge over the Red River. We followed the Red River downstream and saw hikers jumping off a large rock into the river. Shortly after, we found a campsite for the night near the Chimney Top Creek. The poison ivy was thick everywhere and it was a challenge to avoid. After wading in the creek, pumping water, and eating dinner, we had a campfire, s’mores, and good conversation. After hoisting the food bag again, we settled in for the night. Most of us figured out a way to be a little warmer the second night.

On Monday morning we woke to another perfect day. We ate a quick breakfast and headed out for the remaining three miles to Pinch-Em-Tight Trailhead. After a 400-foot gain in elevation, we reached Signature Rock where we took in the sun, lots of water, and the scenery. From there, we hiked a short distance to the trailhead and parted ways. We met new friends, learned new skills, and overall had a great Memorial Day trip!

New York Appalachian Trail Hike

Participants: Joni Moore (Leader), Donna Davidson (Co-leader), Bill Armstrong, Curt Romerill, Dan Harrell, John Bredenkamp, Keith Trinkle, Paul Moore

Utilizing almost every inch of space in the CIWC van for our trip gear (backpacks, pertinents and such) we headed out early for our trip. After an uneventful day of travel and making good time we spent a night in Mifflinville, Pennsylvania which got us far enough along to have time the next day to do some shopping at Campmor Outfitters. We then decided to head to the New Jersey/New York state line and begin our hike there.

It took a while to locate a trail leading to the Appalachian Trail (AT) but, once we did, we wasted no time in getting our day packs and boots on to hit the trail. After a mile or so we came to the section of the AT marked at the state line NJ/NY; that was a first for most of us on the hike. So, there we were beginning our hike at the beginning of the AT section for New York. We didn’t spend much time at this site as we knew it was getting late in the afternoon and we still had lots of ground to cover. After hiking several miles we came to a parking area where Paul was waiting for us in the club van which held our dinner and overnight gear. We did not waste any time refueling with a delicious barbeque dinner, loading our overnight gear on our backs and hitting the trail again for the Wildcat Shelter.

The hike to Wildcat Shelter proved to be a real challenge since there was a lot of rocky terrain and boulders to climb up and over and darkness was quickly setting in. Upon arrival at Wildcat Shelter
the shelter was found to be full (well with only two other hikers who took up the whole shelter and did not appear to be willing to share the space). I guess that’s what happens when you get there late in the
day. Thankfully, a few of our group had arrived before dark so they were able to locate good tent sites. The rest of us arrived after dark and had no problem getting set up for the night. Hiking by a full moon and our headlamps added a greater level of adventure to our hike.

On day two of our trip we discovered that most of the terrain was much the same as it was the evening before. Lots more rocky paths to hike through and boulders to climb (this really slowed us down). At the top of some of those boulders and balds, however, there were some spectacular views of seemingly endless lakes and countryside. We also enjoyed a scattering of small river falls that proved to be impressive from a close view. As the day progressed to evening and
knees were straining from several steep descents, we ended our hike a few miles short of our original goal. Having ended the day a bit early
we were able to spend more time preparing and enjoying our dinner. Joni had a feast of salmon patties with mac and cheese planned for dinner and it went over very well. Since Paul was able to meet us in the van at various points along this section of the trail, we took full advantage and Paul kept our beverages of choice iced down and ready for us to enjoy with dinner. Ice cold beer and hard ice tea…hard to beat after a day on the trail.

Day three of our trip we woke to pouring rain. After quickly packing we went to a park shelter to attempt to dry our stuff and prepare breakfast. There was no letting up on the rain and the earlier
forecast of 30% chance of rain escalated to 100% and the same for the next day. The rain seemed to preclude any safe passage over the rocks and boulders we covered the previous days, so we decided to end our hike. After some cruising around driving over a Hudson River bridge, visiting Greymoor Spiritual Center and the Bear Mountain
Lodge we decided to head back home. The best part of the drive home was a very large black bear seen in the woods near the highway while driving through Pennsylvania.

 

 

Hiking the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Participants: John South (trip leader), Joe Sullivan, Charles Bullock, Nick Fullenkamp, Gary Boehle

Big South Fork is located roughly 20 miles west of I-75 between Kentucky and Tennessee.

We left Noblesville at 8:30 Monday morning for a 6-hour trip to Big South Fork. The government shutdown preceding the trip had us looking at different options, but fortunately the combatants sheathed their swords (tongues) and the shutdown was over in time for the trip. One casualty of a Monday start was a brain fade. Gary left his boots behind and decided to forge on hiking the distance in his leather loafers.

This trip had a few different wrinkles. The hiking consisted of two day hikes and two backpack hikes. We hiked in three distinct locations in the park and were in two states. Each hiker provided all his own food and stoves. Some prefer to provide their own food to save weight and eat what they want. There were some good discussions about food preparation and dehydration methods.  The merits of alcohol, propane and multi-fuel stoves were also discussed. If you want a quick meal, leave the alcohol stove at home but it is easy to find rubbing alcohol even in a small Tennessee pharmacy.

After arriving on Monday afternoon we had a nice 3-mile shake down hike to our campsite next to the Clear Fork. Making sure that water was available was a prime concern for locating campsites. Most streams were still running well.

Tuesday was a day-hike on the 5.6 mile Honey Creek loop. This is considered one of the best, but most difficult, trails in the park. I would not attempt this trail with wet conditions. Backpacks are not recommended due to the rugged terrain, bending and climbing.  The trail passes by tall rock faces and overlooks the Clear Fork. The jewel is hiking up the Honey Creek ravine/valley back to the uplands. The ravine made me think of Turkey Run’s water trail on steroids. The trail twists and turns and is sometimes hard to follow.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: This loop trail had some interesting challenges and great scenery. We visited numerous rock shelters, tall rock faces, the Twin Arches (tallest east of the Mississippi), Slave Falls and Charit Creek lodge. By the map we hiked between 6-8 miles each day but Charles’ GPS said we were doing more like 8-11 miles. The views atop the Twin Arches were great and the fall colors were on display. Charit Creek is a lodge/hostel for hikers and horseback riders. The warm stove, coffee, soft drinks and candy lifted the spirits after walking in a light rain that morning. It was a great place to stop for lunch and relax.

The weather did not disappoint us. Most days were in the low 70’s to the low 50’s at night. We hiked in a light rain one morning and it rained one evening. Campfires each night helped take the chill off. Friday night did drop into the 30s. Pancakes and sausage helped warm us up on Saturday morning. Most days were sunny and warm with perfect hiking/camping conditions.

On Friday, after taking a shower and setting up camp in deserted Blue Heron modern campground, we looked for a place for a celebration dinner. We asked a local policeman where to find a good steak and beer. We were informed that we were in a dry county with only average places to eat. We ended up at the local 1950’s Drive In. The food was surprisingly good and inexpensive.

Saturday we spent some time looking over the Blue Heron Mining Community outdoor museum. There were many displays that tell the story of the abandoned mining town. A six mile hike was completed at a quick pace to start for home by 2:00. We returned safely to Noblesville by 9:00.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Participants: 5 including the trip leader

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, for those unfamiliar with the area, is a 42 mile section on the North Country Trail starting in Grand Maris, Michigan and ending in Munising, Michigan (Upper Peninsula). The trail follows the southern shore of Lake Superior and is governed by the National Parks Service.

This was the club’s second trip to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. What a difference a year (and change of seasons) makes. The 2011 version was in July and in the middle of a hot spell with fly/ mosquito season in full flourish. It was a great group who toughed out the conditions. This year’s timing was much better. Park Staff recommend the last week of August when it is still warm (by Upper Peninsula standards) and the summer crowds are dwindling. Great advice! Seventy degree days and mid-fifty nights, and we hit a clear dry few days that were perfect for the many magnificent vistas along the trail.

Munising is a ten hour drive from Indianapolis and we arrived at our motel about 6:00 PM Saturday evening. The Sunset Motel is a very nice mom and pop old style motel sitting right on South Bay and named the “Sunset” for a very good reason. Sunday morning we had breakfast at local restaurant, picked up our permits and caught our shuttle to the Grand Maris trailhead. The trail is generally divided in roughly three areas; the Grand Sable Banks and Dunes, Twelve Mile Beach and Pictured Rocks Cliffs. Our plan was three nights and four days to cover the trail.

Sunday was a short day, seven miles, skirting behind the dunes to an area referred to a Log Slide. This site was used during the logging days where logs were carted to the top of the dunes and then slid down to the lake side for transporting by boat to the mills. Looking back toward Grand Maris, the dunes stretched for about seven miles. From this point, the next twenty five miles were predominantly right on the cliffs or beach areas along Lake Superior. Our first campsite was about a half mile from the historic Grand Sable Light Station built in 1874. The station is well maintained but is approximately one and half miles from the nearest parking area. It gets few visitors relative to other Michigan lighthouses. Our next three days (thirty-five miles) were highlighted by magnificent sunny skies, a cool breeze off the lake and numerous vistas from cliffs and beach areas. High points included Twelve Mile Beach, Trappers Lake, Grand Portal Point, the confluence of the Mosquito River and Lake Superior, Miners Beach and Miners Castle Point and the Munising Falls. The trails were in excellent condition with relatively few elevation changes. We had a really good group with everyone contributing to make an enjoyable trip. John led the way most of the trip finding great resting spots while the rest of us caught up. Ken was our official fire man building great camp fires and tending them to the end. Wayne entertained us with his many stories of family adventures to remote parks and waters. Dave was always helpful as an experienced trip leader and advisor helping wherever necessary, especially at meal times and breaking camp “leaving no trace.”

At trails end we returned to the Sunset for showers and a few adult beverages, dinner at a very good Munising restaurant and a final return to the motel for sunset watching. There was much rehashing of the magnificent sites and variety of terrain that make up Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore.

Picture Rocks Group

Quetico: A Scouting Trip

Participants: 3

John and I had been talking about a return to Canada for some years. I had to cancel out on a 2006 club trip to the Missinaibi Headwaters due to an 11th hour back injury. But, after several successful Boundary Waters trips and some backpacking trips over the past 6 years, I was finally ready again to tackle some really wild and remote location. We did not want to make this a club trip, but foresaw the possibility that we could pick a route that might qualify for a club trip at a later date – thus the idea of a scouting trip.

After investigating several provincial parks, routes and outfitters, we settled on the Pines Loop in Quetico. This very large park is similar in size to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, but only receives one-tenth the annual visitors. Because of the proximity to Ely, MN we were able to rent from an American outfitter and started our journey at Moose Lake. After a 2 hour paddle and check-in at the border we were underway.

It did not take long for the reality of the remoteness to set in. Shortly after we left the border area we saw fewer and fewer canoes and were in the wilds of Canada. There was a little bit of rain off and on that day, but not enough to matter, at least not until evening when we were blessed with a double rainbow – full arches and soooooo awesome.

Each night we would have a fire; Ken assumed the role of getting that going. Dan was our water pumper, and John and I coordinated the cooking and kitchen duties. Because of the remoteness and the uncertainty of easily finding portages and campsites we were up early each morning. A quick breakfast of instant oatmeal and coffee and we were on our way. For the next three days we only saw one other occupied camp.

Our McKenzie maps were mostly accurate, but certainly not 100 percent. Some of the portages were easy to find and some were not. One took us over 90 minutes to locate because it was marked incorrectly on the map – just adding to the adventure. Once we got on the portage trail, well, that was another adventure. There were rocks, downed trees, swamps and, in some cases, the trails were hardly recognizable. You never knew what might be up ahead or how long it would take to finish a portage. Then, there was a portage trail that ended at a beaver dam. Since Kevin Callan had paddled, written and described the route four years earlier, beavers had come in and done their thing. The trail was gone, but in its place has a huge beaver pond that had been created by the likes of a dam we had never seen. So, up and over the dam we went and paddled for perhaps a half mile. Then, another dam for which was a simple lift over. We paddled some more – another dam and another lift over. Finally at the end of the third pond we found the trail out to the next lake.

One of our objectives was to find and photograph as many ancient First Nation paintings as we could. These are called pictographs and are generally found on flat cliff walls facing the east and just up a few feet from the water’s edge. There were either shone on the map or reference was made in our guidebook. We were very successful in locating these.

Although the trip was very remote and extremely rugged it was worth every stumble, fall and scrape as we carried through those portages. At times were we challenged paddling into the wind, which seemed to be the case each time we hit a larger lake. We took it all in stride and stroke. The camaraderie amongst the crew members was great, the meals were good and the weather was the most perfect I’ve ever had for a paddle trip. I’d go back to Quetico in a heartbeat but, then again, maybe the next opportunity will be in Woodland Caribou, Algonquin or up to the French River.

Appalachian Trail – Maryland

The Maryland trip started from the home of Curt (who graciously provided parking) on Saturday, May 26th at 7am with eight members present.

We drove to the Teahorse Hostel in Harpers Ferry, where we would bunk for the night and have a waffle breakfast before our hostel host, Laurel, shuttled us to Pen Mar Park to start our adventure Sunday morning. Once there and gear unpacked, we hiked the quarter mile north to the Mason Dixon line which is a sign beside some railroad tracks on the AT. After taking a few pictures and hiking back to the starting point, we bid our host farewell and continued on with our mission, 40 plus miles of the AT through the state of Maryland.

The first couple of days were very grueling with the heat, humidity and terrain of the trail taking a toll on most of us those first miles. While we met a few through hikers, the first few days of our trip the traffic of north bounders became steadily more prevalent as we progressed south. Most of the through hikers had just come from trail days in the weeks before at Damascus and were just getting back on the trail. Along the trail, we came across many historic sites that we either stopped at for lunch and rest or passed by and took pictures of or all of the above.

The rock overlooks the great campsites, the monuments, the footbridges, and all the beautiful scenery along the way. Oh and not to forget the Flintstones like chairs and campsite just off the trail on that next to last day. At The Old Historic Inn near Dalghgren campsite, we got out of the rain for a few hours and had some adult beverages and desserts. And, for those of you who traveled the trail, we all know by now it is only a quarter of a mile to almost anywhere you want to go or need to get too (well, almost).

Once we arrived back in Harpers Ferry, Thursday, it was a rest day. We also got a chance to use the Hostel washer and dryer to remove some of the stench from our packs before loading them in the van. What a relief that we did not have to smell dirty clothes for that last 9-hour drive home. We also visited the AT Conservancy Headquarters were we looked at books of the through hikers (we found Heidi but didn’t remember when John Bredenkamp did it) in them. Some of us bought shirts, maps, buttons and other souvenirs from the trip and area of the AT.

The next day, Friday, a few hearty souls decided to hike the West Virginia part of the AT while we were there. Ken, Curt, Dennis and Joni left after breakfast for the trail south. When they returned a few hours later, some in the party went to Shepherdsville, WV, one of the oldest towns in the state, while others took the train to Washington DC for some sightseeing which ended in bad weather later in the day and a long train ride back. Curt and Dennis had made the DC trip the day before and knew which connections needed to be made starting out. If the other choice had not been the Battlefield of Antietam there might have been more on the train that day to DC.

We all met some very nice people on the trail and our hostel as well as our own group, and Harpers Ferry was a very interesting as well as an historic town to visit and see how things really all began there at the start of the Civil War and what a strategic site it served in two wars.

We left for home Saturday morning, June 2, after eating waffles at Teahorse, before heading back to Indiana. I think everyone enjoyed the trip but, in the end, “there’s no place like home.” See you on the trail next time.