|Scallion negotiating a steep climb down. This would be the least of our problems.|
Today Scallion and I hiked 10 miles. It took almost 10 hours. To put it mildly the trail was a challenge today.
Leaving Ring Mill campsite began a 32 mile section of nearly all hiking in the woods. We were looking forward to this section in the Wayne National Forest.
Right after leaving camp we got our first taste of the challenges ahead. The trail along the Muskingum River was waist high in grass. The trail was narrow and hard to see. The high grass obscured holes and limbs on the trail making things difficult. The blue blazes were plentiful so at least we knew what direction to head.
After two or so miles along the river we crossed a road and climbed up the ridge. The trail was again narrow and not well traveled. Weeds about six to twelve inches were growing in the trail. It looked like only deer used this section of trail. There were a number downed limbs and blown down trees making the hiking difficult.
The trail was generally well marked with a few exceptions. At unmarked intersections Scallion and I would split up and head in different directions to look for trail markers. We devised a scheme that whoever found a trail marker, and thus the trail, would blow two blasts on their whistle. The other person would respond with one whistle blast and backtrack to the trail.
After our lunch break at Wilson Run Road the price of travel went way up. The blue blazes disappeared and we didn't see one the rest of the day. The trail was marked by blue plastic triangles instead. This was fine but we didn't know this. We were looking for blue blazes. The blue diamond markers were not listed in the trail alert and were not described on the map as being Buckeye Trail markers. We figured it out.
The blue triangle markers got fewer and fewer. Staying on the trail got harder and harder. We got lost. We tried calling the supervisor of this section of the trail a few times. We had no cell service. After about going a mile out of our way we back tracked and found the turn we missed. You needed a keen eye to see this turn. Getting lost drained us of valuable time, energy and morale.
Once we got back on the Buckeye Trail the real work began. It was us against an unmaintained and poorly marked section of trail. Blow downs were numerous. Trail markers were sparse. Weeds covered the trail. Going over, under and through the blown down trees was tough on us. Some were quite dangerous to negotiate as they were near steep edges. We got scratched. We got bruised. We crawled. We climbed. We split up frequently to scout for trail markers. We finally made it to SR-260.
By now it was past 6:00pm and our trail spanking had exhausted us. We hike about a mile farther and set up camp.
Both of us are experienced hikers. We've hiked many trails and many miles. We know a bad section of trail when we see one. If this keeps up we are going to declare this section impassable to us and walk on roads instead.
I am so glad I had a hiking partner. I am not sure I could have made it through this section solo. Poor Scallion. He picked a fine section to join me.