May 8 - Road Fork

Captain Blue in the Big Muskie bucket used for strip mining.

Today I hiked 23 miles. I have now hiked 810 miles on the Buckeye Trail.

My day started early. I was up at 5:00am and on the trail at 6:10am. I had two miles to hike before 7:00am to meet Doug LeVasseur. It was neat hiking so early in the morning. Doug was there to give me shuttle from the lower connector of the Whipple Loop the upper connector in Belle Valley.

On the way to Belle Valley we made a short side trip to see Big Muskie. Big Muskie is the huge bucket of an earth removing machine AEP used to strip mine coal. The bucket is so large that the marching band of the local high school fit in it for a photo. The bucket is now on display and you can walk in it too.

In Belle Valley Doug and I had breakfast. Doug knew a couple of people in the restaurant. Doug also knew the fellow across the street who runs Timo's Backyard BBQ. We visited Timo and his family who were busy preparing smoked and BBQ chicken for Mothers Day. They were quite interested in my trek on the Buckeye Trail. They gave me a free chicken dinner and are interested in hosting Buckeye Trail hikers. If you are ever in Belle Valley check out Timo's Backyard BBQ. It is a small, seasonal, concession stand across from the gas station. They are very nice people.

I loaded up on food while I was in town. I won't have a chance to resupply for six days. The Whipple Loop is pretty remote. I've had a tremendous appetite lately so I bought more food than a normal person can eat. I don't want to go hungry. I finally left town at 11:00am and had a heavier than normal pack.

The next 21 miles were all on back roads. It was quite enjoyable. I saw maybe a dozen cars all day. Most of the time I had the road to myself. The road hike today was much easier than hiking in the woods yesterday but was just as scenic. No mud, fallen branches or steep climbs on the roads. Some people frown on the Buckeye Trail because it uses so many roads. It is too bad people think this way because the road walking can be quite enjoyable especially in southern Ohio.

There fragrance of the spring blooms was heavy in the air today. It smelled wonderful. More so than past days. The sun shined all day and the temps were in the low 70s. Everything was blooming today.

I arrived at Road Fork around 6:45pm. I am camping at the Road Fork Baptist Church. I called ahead and got permission. They are right on the trail and have a bathroom for me to use. The cemetery is a stone's throw away from my campsite. I hope it stays quiet over there.

Starting tomorrow I will have a hiking partner for five days. Mike Fanelli from Centerville is joining me.  Mike, aka Scallion, has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and recently spent a year traveling around the world couch surfing. Mike hiked bit with Brent and Amy Anslinger on their Buckeye Trail thru hike in 2003. It will be good to have company. Mike knows he needs to hit the ground running to keep up with me.

Anybody know how to get a whippoorwill to quiet down? It is bed time and he is quite noisy.