June 3 - Shawnee State Forest

Bob Hill on his ATV.

I hiked 20 miles today. My infected toe felt much better today after taking the antibiotics and getting a day of rest. I did not have any pain or discomfort like I did two days ago.

The first part of the route today was on roads. Right after leaving Wamsley on Mt Unger Road I passed a house that had the most dogs I had ever seen in one yard. This house had at least 30 dogs. Most were chained to a pole but several came out to chase me. Of course they all barked at me. It was quite a chorus of barking dogs.

I missed a turn on the road and ended up walking two miles before I realized it. The turn I missed was onto a dirt road from a gravel road. There were no blazes there to indicate a turn should be made. To make matters worse there were white blazes on the poles and trees after I missed the turn. It is not uncommon for me to follow white blazes. When the painted blue blazes fade they turn to white. But in this case the white blazes indicated an alternate route around Shawnee State Forest.

I met a guy on an ATV named Bob Hill. I asked him for directions. Bob offered me a ride on his ATV to get me back to the Buckeye Trail. Bob knew about an abandoned township road that connected to the trail. I rode on his ATV most of the way on this abandoned road. This included going through a hayfield and going through the woods. It was a bumpy ride but I held on. He took me as far as he could. He told me to keep walking and I would end up in the backyard of a couple of houses. I was to walk down the driveway of the houses, cross the creek and then I would be on the road which the Buckeye Trail follows. Sure enough, it went exactly that way. I was lucky to meet Bob. He is a real nice guy. I would like to come back and visit with him longer.

I hiked into Shawnee State Forest and met up with Shawnee Backpack Loop Trail. In April of last year I hiked the 40 mile Shawnee Backpack Loop Trail over the course of three days. The Buckeye Trail follows this trail for ten of those miles.

I hiked the remaining six miles on the Shawnee Wilderness Trail that the Buckeye Trail follows. The Wilderness Trail is just like the Backpack Loop Trail. You can describe both trails in two words - up and down. The trails at Shawnee State Forest are known for their steep ups and downs. If you have ever hiked at Shawnee you know what I am talking about. (In all fairness I did hike on some switchbacks and Buckhorn Ridge was level.) Some of the hiking had rough footing as a bulldozer had been on the trail. The folks at Shawnee State Forest use a bulldozer to maintain the trails. The trail was quite overgrown with weeds. The weeds were knee high to waist high for the entire stretch.

I was picked up by Mom and Jim at 7:00pm. We had dinner at the dairy bar in Friendship. We followed up dinner with some ice cream. This is our last night in the cabin. They are going home tomorrow and I will continue on my journey.

I have done a fair bit of complaining lately about how under maintained the Buckeye Trail is in some places and rightfully so. First, realize these areas represent only a small fraction of the total miles on the Buckeye Trail. Please don't let my complaining stop you from hiking on the Buckeye Trail. You would be missing out on wonderful experiences. Second, I have volunteered to be the Section Supervisor for the Troy Section of the Buckeye Trail. This is the section of trail which goes through Dayton. I also plan to become a trail maintainer. I want to do my part to keep the Buckeye Trail open and enjoyable for hikers. If you would like to help maintain the Buckeye Trail too please contact info@buckeyetrail.org. No experience needed.

Note: I plan to  complete my Buckeye Trail thru hike on Wednesday, June 15, at 4:00pm at Deeds Point MetroPark in Dayton. You are welcome to come out and help celebrate my finish.