A Texas Military Spouse with nothing better to do than hike and explore. Travel suggestions, hiking antics, and military life tips all in one place! Blogging about the outdoors, travel, military life, DIY, Home & Garden, and Relationships.
The things I learned during my LSHT (Lone Star Hiking Trail) thru-hike I find invaluable in preparing for my upcoming Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Attempt.
I used my thru-hike of the Lone Star Hiking Trail as a shakedown hike for my upcoming Appalachian Trail thru-hike beginning February 2020.
The purpose of a shakedown hike is to be able to test out all your gear to see what is working and what is not, but I also learned a lot during this hike like:
I need a new pack. Even though I have had my Osprey Ariel AG 65 for years, I learned that hiking with it for longer than a couple of days was just not working for me. It became uncomfortable on day 2 no matter what adjustments I made. I used my 2 days off the trail to make a switch to a lighter Osprey pack which I love!
The tent I claimed to love so much I ended up hating. I have the Nemo Hornet 2P and while it worked great during all my backyard camping shenanigans, it did not work for me on the trail with all my gear. I found that while it held me and my gear, I didn’t like the lack of elbow room due to the side walls. It’s a minor annoyance but enough so that I am ready to change it out. I also found that on cold nights I would have a lot of condensation in the tent (and yes it was pitched correctly). It has done this every time I have used it when it is cold out. In fact one night while in the back yard, I had so much condensation that it left a puddle on the tent floor. I was using the footprint with it and found that the footprint was also wet (where the floor touched the footprint). This was actually one of the biggest things I learned during my LSHT thru-hike. I had thought this tent was perfect for me until I used it for multiple days.
A hot shower does wonder for one’s mood after 4 days on the trail.
Making camp on sand is a completely horrible idea.
Drinking electrolytes first thing in the morning does amazing things. Usually, when I drink electrolytes it is midday after I have already started sweating. During this trip, I got the idea to drink 16oz of water (with electrolytes) with my breakfast first thing in the morning. The result was less fatigue during the day and I never showed any signs of electrolyte imbalance.
Use flavoring or electrolytes with pond water. We had to get water from a very, very stagnate pond. Unless you have ever drunk pond water, there is no real way to describe how it tastes other than pondy =) I found that adding electrolytes made it much more tolerable and cover the taste. We also tried to pond water for cooking instead of stream water when we could.
Wipes are worth their weight in gold. I could care less how much they weigh and I will never dry them out again either! Carry a whole pack? Why, yes I think I will! They can be used for so many different things on the trail. You can use just one to clean your face, body, and feet after a long day to get a more fresh feeling (works wonders for one’s mood), this is known as a baby wipe bath. Use them instead of TP after going #2 so you can avoid chaffing in the buck crack area (it cleans better than TP and unless you have explosive diarrhea you only need one). Of course, you need to pack it out, but since I have always packed out TP as well, this was nothing new to me. Women, when our lady bits get gross it lets off a foul odor (more than a man does), use one to clean the folds of your lady bits. You’ll stop any extra funky smell and feel so much fresher. Men, let’s get real, clean your ass and balls because that is where most of your “funk” comes from!
Women a FUD will change your life. Ok, maybe not your life, but you will find peeing in 20-degree weather so much more enjoyable. A FUD is a female urination device. The one I use and love is the Freshette. It has a retractable hose which is flexible and allows you to aim (before long you will be writing your name in the snow too, just like one of the guys). We will talk more about FUDs in another video.
Using a peri bottle to rinse after going #1 is so much better than using TP, however, due to not sitting if using a FUD, a portable bidet works better (due to the angled neck).
Having your mattress deflate sucks. Thankfully it was on the last night, but my Thermarest NeoAir XLite women’s deflated and we never were able to find a hole.
I want a shorter air mattress. Despite being 5′ 9″ I have decided I want a shorter air mattress. One, it will save me on weight and two I like propping my feet on my bag when on my back or stomach. When I am on my side my feet are pretty much pulled to my chest. I found that I was scooting down on my mattress so I could do this. I basically was not using about 1/3 of my mattress. This was the 2nd biggest thing I learned during my LSHT thru-hike. I never understood how these long-distance hikers could be comfortable with shorter mattresses. Now I know!
Take time to organize your gear in your tent before bed. I know it sounds silly, but waking up to an organized space instead of gear all over the place, works wonders for one’s mood. It also allows you to have things that you may need to grab quickly nearby. For me, I make sure my headlamp, potty supplies, water, and any meds I need for the morning are easily accessible, especially the potty supplies and headlamp. Nothing like waking up at 3 am needing to pee really bad just to fumble in the dark for 5 minutes trying to find your headlamp or potty supplies!
Shakedown hikes are a must before a long “trip”. You learn real quick what will and won’t work. You also learn all the extra “stuff” you thought you needed, you all of a sudden no longer need and are happy to get rid of.
Something else I learned during my LSHT thru-hike was that shoes really do have a life span on them of about 500 miles (this pair I had worn for about 400 miles before starting the Lone Star Hiking Trail and are now my mowing shoes lol).
Watch The Video
Watch the video for a more in-depth review of things I learned during my LSHT thru-hike.
Shakedown Hike - What I Learned - YouTube
What have you learned by doing a shakedown hike? Comment below and let us know!
Are you ready to plan your next hiking
adventure? Or maybe you are ready for a vacation with some unique outdoor
excitement and Instagram worthy shots? Whatever type of vacation or adventure
you are looking for, look no further than Colorado
Colorado Springs really is a one-stop vacation destination for everyone in
the family, but especially for outdoor adventurers and lovers. For those that
are hiking addicts and can’t choose which trails to do first, behold my Top 5
Paint Mines Interpretative Park
Hike roughly 4 miles in the 750-acre park known for its
colorful bands of clay throughout the park which was once used by Native
Americans to make paint. Trails are rated as easy and great for the whole
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
One of the area’s newest State Park offers 21 trails that
span 27 miles in this 2701-acre park. Trails range from easy to extreme. If you
are looking for a one of kind experience, hike the Dixon Trail (rated difficult
to extreme) and stumble upon a 1957 plane crash site along with some amazing
views, but make sure you come prepared! There are no pick-up points along the
trail and no opportunities to refill water along this 17-mile route.
Garden of the Gods Park
15 miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult lay within
this 1,367-acre park which received its name when a group of surveyors arrived
in the area in 1859 and reported that this place of incredible beauty was a
place fit for gods to assemble. Hike the Siamese Twins for an Instagram worthy
unique view of Pikes Peak through the natural window of the twins.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space
This 1,474-acre park with roughly 12 miles of trails rated
as easy-moderate that offer beautiful views of Pikes Peak and Garden of the
Gods via the 2.85-mile-long Mesa/Greenlee Trail. If you’d rather climb, there
are about eighty technical sport climbing routes that have been established at
The Crags Trail
A 5.1-mile roundtrip hike that is popular with families, the Crags are rock formations that face the northwest slope of Pikes Peak. Once you hit the summit visit the ancient Bristle Cone Pines and enjoy stunning views of Pikes Peak. Or if you are feeling more adventurous, use this trail to hike to Pikes Peak via Devil’s Playground.
No matter which trail (I suggest doing all of them) or outdoor activity you choose to partake in, always remember to be good stewards of the land and follow Leave No Trace principles.
I was so excited to get the opportunity to read Chicas on the Appalachian Trail by Jen Beck Seymour. She has also been gracious enough to giveaway a signed copy to one of my readers (enter below).
Once I picked up this book I could not put it down. In fact, I took it with me on my thru-hike of the Lone Star Hiking Trail and binge read it in my tent after a long day of hiking. I seriously tried to put it down to go to sleep and I couldn’t! It has been a long time since a book has caught my attention that much!
Jen is a great infoteller (I like that better than storyteller since this book is all about the 411 of being a woman on the AT). It’s like talking to your best friend (but you’re reading lol).
Anyway, the first 135 pages are full of answers to questions like what pack should you get to how do you pee in the woods and better yet, how do you handle your period while long distance backpacking.
What I really loved about this book was the Q&A sessions with other long-distance women hiker’s. It really puts things in perspective and also goes to show you everyone is unique in how they handle long-distance hiking and even loneliness on the trail. I found that I related to several of them and plan to use the advice they gave on my own thru-hike attempt in 2020.
From the Back Cover:
Hiking the Appalachian Trail is your dream adventure – but so far, you’ve done nothing but dream. What’s stopping you from making it a reality?
Are you afraid of wild animals? Not sure you can handle going a week without a shower? Or do you simply doubt that you are capable of taking on this badass adventure?
Bestselling author Jen Beck Seymour thru-hiked the trail in 2017, and she understands the fears and doubts that may hinder some women from following their hearts. But Jen wants you to know that your dream is not out of reach. In this book, she gives you the answers you need to these (and more) questions:
Is it safe for women do this alone?
What can I do to protect myself from dangerous animals or people?
How do I deal with my period (and other bodily functions) while camping?
I don’t have a hiking partner – what if I get lonely or injured?
How can I keep my family from worrying or talking me out of it?
Jen also interviews 12 inspirational women who recently hiked the trail – alone or with a partner (including a mom-and-son team and a family with a baby) – who share their stories with all the honest, down-and-dirty details about the challenges they faced before, during, and after their hikes.
If you’ve always wanted to go hiking – from day hikes to long-distance or thru-hiking – THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!
CHICAS ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL will not only help you squash those doubts and fears but will also give you practical advice on how to make your dream of adventure come true.
Win Your Own Copy of Chicas on the Appalachian Trail
Enter below to win your very own signed copy of Chicas on the Appalachian Trail. Or if you can’t wait, buy it on Amazon.
STEP 1: Please show your support by liking our Giveaway sponsors Facebook Pages:STEP 2: Enter the Giveaway using the form below!
Don’t forget to complete the extra tasks for extra entries after you enter with your email! You could earn up to a total of 10 extra entries, plus if you share your referral link and a friend enters you will earn an additional 5 entries per friend that enters! Good Luck!
IF THE FORM BELOW IS NOT WORKING FOR SOME REASO, PLEASE VISIT THIS LINK INSTEAD TO ENTER =)
***Don’t forget to confirm your entry by clicking the link in the email that is sent to you, otherwise, your entry will not be valid! Once you have confirmed it, come back here to complete more tasks to earn more entries***
You even earn reward points which turn into donations for a school or non-profit of your choice.
This program is only open to the United States and pouches will need to have all food debris removed from them before sending. If you opt to wash or rinse out your pouch, you will need to make sure it has completely dried out before sending them in.
How to Recycle Mountain House Pouches:
Create a free account on TerraCycle.com and join the Free Mountain House recycling program.
Save your used Mountain House pouches instead of throwing them away.
When you are ready to recycle them, box them all up, log in to your TerraCycle account, click on profile & click “Get Shipping Label” to have a pre-paid shipping label emailed to you. Print off your pre-maid shipping label and attach it to your box.
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Mile 86 – Trailhead #15 (the end) 10 Miles March 24, 2019
Today is the day, the day we finish our thru-hike of the Lone Star Hiking Trail.
I learned today that my phone is almost out of storage which caused video to not record (when I thought it was) or would only record for a second then stop (and I wouldn’t notice until I went to stop the video). Needless to say, I am missing a lot of footage (and pictures).
I decided to load my pack today a different way and found it MUCH more comfortable and had no issue with my shoulder like I did yesterday. I will go more in detail about that in another blog post/video.
We didn’t meet up with Jerry any today and instead chose to wait to see him at the finish line.
The trail was mostly dry until we got into the Winters Bayou section around mile 92 and lots of obstacles.
We crossed over the San Jacinto River (thankfully a footbridge was provided) and it made for a beautiful view.
Shortly before mile 94, we ran into some concrete pillars, not sure what they were once, maybe an old fire tower? Maybe someone will know and can comment below.
I also found that the trail cuts through several pond areas with lily pads. It made for a beautiful site and really messed up the good pace I had going as I felt the need to stop and take a million pictures.
We passed more concrete pillars after mile 95, which left me even more confused about what they may have once went to.
The last mile of trail left us with a lot of mud. The boardwalk going across one large section of mud was destroyed which meant a long mud walk =)
During the last mile of the trail, Clayton and I decided that we wanted Burger King and IHOP, in fact we walked out of the woods chanting as such to let Jerry know.
Trail Condition: Mostly dry until you get to the Winter’s Bayou section around mile 92. Dry for a short period after you cross the San Jacinto River to about mile 95 in which the remainder of the trail was mostly mud. Camping: Between mile 91 & 92 you will find a small clearing that would make a good camping spot for 1 tent, with a possible water source (not reliable). Shortly before mile 94 there are several good camping areas. Water: Between mile 92 & 93 is a very reliable water source as you come to the East Fork of the San Jacinto River. Shortly before mile 94 there is a pond. About a 1/4 of a mile or so before mile 96 you will cross the Winters Bayou river which is another reliable water source.
Watch the trail through my eyes
LSHT Day 8: Mile 86 - Trailhead #15 (The Finish Line) - YouTube
What a fiasco we had last night trying to find somewhere to camp. The Hunter’s Camp that we planned on staying at was surrounded by fire (prescribed burn) although oddly they did not have it closed off. Jerry, however, being a firefighter would not allow us to stay there for safety reasons. So we ended up getting a hotel room in Cleveland (do not recommend).
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express (our normal choice) and what a bad idea. The room had the moulding around the bottom coming off with black mold behind it. Of course, we did not notice it until the morning due to being exhausted and going to bed. The breakfast was horrible. This was not the Holiday Inn Express that we are accustomed to!
Anyway, we made it to the Trailhead and started the longest of 2 days not exactly sure where we were going to end as there was no real good spot for a pickup.
This past week I decided to change out my pack for the Osprey Eja 58 to see if it would work better for me as my other pack ended up hurting after a day of hiking. Anyway, so I loaded it down with my AT weight (all gear, food, and water) and came to a total weight of 29 pounds. It felt great until about 8 miles in when my right shoulder started killing me (I decided to repack it differently the next day which solved the issue).
The trail was enjoyable today, it goes right past a campground and lake where you can fill up on water either via the lake or further into the campground at the taps.
I did, however, eat a lot of spiders and cobwebs today thanks to me leading the way. Clayton usually takes care of it, but he had to hike with me due to not knowing where we would end the day.
We crossed a road where a bridge had been washed out at some point. Oddly enough, it took me a minute to figure out what I was looking at lol.
We ran into a muddy section (the first of this section) at about mile 75 that lasted for roughly half a mile.
Once we entered into the Big Creek Scenic area we ran into lots of beautiful scenery and bugs and plants. It was glorious, but we did run into a lot of mud!
Once we got into the next section (Tarkington) the trail was mostly dry and we ran into very few mud spots.
We decided to exit the trail via an ATV road that dumped out into a Forest Service Road around mile 86. From there we drove to the Shell Oil Rd Hunter’s Camp. Definitely, DO NOT recommend this camp. It is so trashy (trash everywhere) and so much traffic on the road all night long.
We did, however, make a friend this evening.
Trail Condition: Hard compacted trail, not much mud until you get in the Big Creek Scenic Area. The Tarkington section was nice (very little mud). Camping: Around Mile 75 you will come to a developed campground (need to reserve your spot). Mile 75.5 there is a hiker’s camp shortly after passing a reliable water source. There are no camping spots (nor are you allowed to camp in the Big Creek Scenic Area) again until Mile 83.5 at a Hunter’s camp or just a smidge further up is a primitive campsite (the Hunter’s Camp requires a tad further walk but looks like you cross over a water source). Water: About a mile from the trailhead there is a good water source. Mile 75.5 is another reliable water source right before a hiker’s camp. A large creek runs through most of the Big Creek Section (hence the name probably). Shortly past mile 79 is another good water source before you get to Trailhead 12. Around mile 84 is the next reliable water source. The map shows there is a pond at (or around) mile 85 however we could not locate it. Around Mile 85.5 there is a reliable water source in a creek.
Watch as I hike the trail
Lone Star Hiking Trail Day 7: Trailhead #11 to Mile 86 - YouTube
Big Woods Pond to Trailhead #11 15.5 Miles March 16, 2019
We started the morning by trying to find our way back to the trail from the Forest Service Road. It was a tad chilly so we decided to put on our base layers. I also had on my fleece and Clayton wore his puffy.
This section includes a 5 mile road walk that is “dry” (meaning no where to fill up on water). Thankfully this section of trail has been mostly dry which made today’s hike pretty enjoyable.
We did come into some mud shortly after the pond sign at mile 58.5, and more mud with an obstacle (downed trees on the trail) after mile 59.
Shortly after the hiker’s camp before mile 60 we ran into the trail underwater and surrounded in water and mud as far as the eye could see. However, with my mad ninja skills, I somehow managed to not get my feet wet. I had also warmed up by now and decided to take off my fleece and gloves.
Basically the Big Woods section from the pond on has a lot of mud that you get to enjoy before doing a 5-mile road walk.
You will want to make sure you have plenty of water before the road walk as there isn’t really any shade and on hot days you will sweat your butt right off. It does, however, have interesting scenery such as the mangled helicopter that sits outside of the gate to someone’s house.
Once you enter the Magnolia section, it asks you to register, however, when opening the box we realized a huge wasp had made the box it’s home and quickly shut the lid.
Around Mile 68 we saw our first snake. Well actually, Clayton saw it and warned me. I never saw it but I did get to see a turtle around mile 69. He was sitting right on the side of the trail.
This part of the section (see special notes below) requires fording or swimming across (during heavy rain periods like we have had) the San Jacinto River, I chose to be drove around it due to having my son with me. There was no way I was going to risk his life.
We called it a day after crossing a busy road and headed home for the week (Spring Break is over). However, we will be back out next weekend to finish up the last 22 miles.
Trail Condition: The Big Woods section had mud, but the Magnolia section was mostly dry with only very occasional mud. Made for a great day! Camping: There is a hiker’s camp near mile 60. There is a stealth camp spot right after mile marker 62. Primitive campsite around mile 68.5. Water: Pond at mile 58.5. Right past mile 68 you will cross a creek, however, it seemed shallow and stagnant so not sure water would be there during dry months. Pond between mile 69 & 70. San Jacinto River at mile 71.
SPECIAL NOTES: You will have to cross over the East Fork of the San Jacinto River in the Magnolia section (shortly after mile 71) which can be dangerous as the footbridge was washed away a long time ago and never replaced. That will mean fording or swimming depending on how high. In periods of extended rain and can become impassable. There is a bushwhack alternate that you can try, but your best bet is to plan ahead and get a ride around it. You can be picked up at mile 70 from FS2126 and dropped off at mile 72 on FS280D.
LSHT Day 6: Big Woods Pond to Trailhead #11 - YouTube
We left the house to head to the trail around 6:30am and arrived at the Four Notch Trailhead sometime around 10:30am or so.
We decided that we would hike to the pond within the Big Woods section, 13.5 miles away. From there we would hike out to the Forest Road where Jerry would be waiting to take us to the Hunter’s Camp for the night.
The Four Notch section was filled with lots of creek crossings and mud. Shortly after starting this section we ran into a nice mud pit.
Within the first mile we crossed 2 creeks, one which was “deep” and full so this would probably be what I call a reliable water source for those needing it.
About mile 46.5 you will cross a forest service road and come to a good looking and reliable camping area (huge cleared area) that is not on any maps. I did not see any immediate water sources nearby though.
Shortly after passing mile 47 we came to another creek crossing that was steep. I found a huge downed tree laying across and decided to cross on the tree instead of climbing in and out of the creek. It was a lot further up than I thought!
Once we got to mile 48 we spent the next mile hiking through mud and standing water with only sporadic dry spots. In fact, shortly after mile 48 there is a creek crossing with a reliable water source if you need to fill up on water.
In fact, the rest of the trail in the four notch section was mostly mud to include the primitive campsite that was at the end of the Four Notch Section before a road walk. However, it is near a pond.
After a quick lunch with my husband and what would have been a 2.5 mile road walk we entered into the Big Woods section and began our trek to the pond.
At one point I realized how eerie just walking through the woods in that section was. It reminded me of how most horror movies start. I was just waiting for “Jason” (Friday the 13th) to pop out!
I allowed Clayton to hike ahead this section and we made arrangments to meet at the pond (where we would get off), little did I know there would be a “trail” that led off the LSHT to the FS road before the pond, so I ended up having to call him to have him backtrack just a very short distance.
We headed out a very short distance to meet Jerry at the Forest Service Road which required some bushwhacking as there was no trail even though a sign was posted.
The Hunters Camp was about a mile backtrack, thankfully we had Jerry there to take us. If you don’t have your own “Jerry” I would suggest hiking on to the Hiker’s Camp that is located directly on the trail as they are about the same distance and it doesn’t require backtracking.
The Hunter’s Camp was really clean and nice. We set up camp, had dinner and headed to bed after Jerry attempted to set up a hammock for the very first time.
Trail Condition & Information
Trail Condition: Muddy but not as bad as previous sections. Camping: Mile 46.5 there is a huge cleared area right after crossing a forest service road. Mile 48 there is plenty of cleared spots to find a camp spot. At mile 50.5 or so (right at FS 206 crossing) there are more camping areas. I keep speaking in the video of a Hunter’s camp. There is no hunters camp in the Four Notch section, instead, it was a primitive campsite (that at the time of this video was muddy and soggy). Once you get into the Big Woods section you will find stealth camping spots around mile 55 and a Hiker’s camp shortly before mile 60. Water: This section has plenty of opportunities to fill up on water. Shortly past mile 48, there is a good water source at a creek (that you also have to cross). There is another water source near the junction of trails (LSHT and Four Notch Loop) around mile 49.5. Between mile 51 and 52 before you get to FS 200 there is a pond. You will not come to another reliable water source until shortly before mile 57 in the Big Woods Section.
LSHT Day 5: Four Notch TH to Big Woods Pond - YouTube
Alligator Branch Swamp to Four Notch Trailhead 12 Miles March 12, 2019
Despite going to bed early last night, we ended up getting a late start this morning. We didn’t begin to eat breakfast until around 8am and still have to pack up camp and filter water. It was 9:30am before we headed out.
The hike out of the swamp would be as you expect in any swamp area, but it didn’t last long as we started ascending out of the swamp and on our way to Interstate 45 where we would begin a 1.5 mile road walk along the service road and onto a busy Park Road (I swear the speed limit was 70).
Taking a snack break before starting our first road walk of the day
Unlike our first road walk this one was much more “intense” due to the traffic on the roads and speed at which the cars were going combined with only being able to walk in the tall grass with all the litter. There were several crossings as well across very busy roads that made it a little uncomfortable.
Once we reached the road that led to the Phelps section we notice a man on a bicycle with a dog right near the entrance to the trailhead. By the time we got to the trailhead they were no longer on the road but were behind a gate. It was a little unsettling as we noticed as we passed that they were watching us and only continued on down their drive after we passed their gate (which is literally right next to the trailhead).
I told Clayton we needed to hurry and get well into the trail quickly in case the dog (who seemed aggressive) decided to come back. The fence that separates the trail from their property is only a couple of strands of barbwire that the dog could easily get through.
Once I felt we were a safe distance in, we stopped to have lunch and drink some water with electrolytes before continuing on.
The trail for first part of the Phelps section was pretty dry which made for a nice change. This section (Phelps section) of the trail is also the driest as far as water sources go.
The Phelps section is split into two parts via a road walk that tends to have loose dogs running around. There are several dogs at a house directly across from the 2nd entrance after the road walk. A couple of them ran up barking and growling at us until we turned into the trail. Thankfully we were not bit, we ignored them which I think helped in that aspect because they were growling and barking just inches from behind us (following us).
The 2nd section of the Phelps section was considerably more “wet” as we navigated through the mud. The trail itself has huge ruts left by mountain bikers and ATV’s that clearly have been “mudding” on the trail despite the fact they aren’t even supposed to be on the trail.
We decide to sit down and have a snack break and try to start figuring out where to camp for the night. I take my phone out of airplane mode and decide to check Facebook. It’s then that I have several notifications and messages of my friends either tagging me in comments or sharing with me information on incoming possible severe weather the next day (beginning in the morning).
After some research I made the tough decision to call Jerry and have him come get us from the trail. There was no way I was going to chance it with having my son with me.
It would take him 3 hours to get to us so we decided to go ahead and do the 3 mile road walk to the hunters camp to wait for him.
The road walk was the worst yet, although we did come upon a creek that looked to be reliable if water was absolutely needed (although due to it bordering farm land, I would use it only as a last resort and would filter and boil).
The road walk itself was mostly on a road where the speed limit was 30mph but many of the cars (it was semi busy) were going much faster. The only place to walk for most of it is on the road itself which has many blind corners and man were there a bunch of hills.
We finally made it to the hunters camp and my shoes immediately came off. Man that is the best feeling in the world!
Jerry showed up 30 minutes later and we said goodbye to the trail for 2 days.
Trail Condition: Mostly dry with only occasional muddy sections in the second half. Camping: There is a primitive campsite shortly after mile 38. Possible camp areas around mile 41-42 along with a utility right of way before getting to the road walk heading to the hunters camp at mile 45. Water Source: No reliable water source other than the along the road walk which crosses a creek near pastures and farmland. Would only recommend as a last resort due to pesticides and being near cow pastures. There also appeared to be a lot of trash in and near it.
Stubblefield Campground to Alligator Branch Swamp 13 Miles March 11, 2019
We woke up early at the overflow campground ready to start our day. Little did we know that our 12-mile day would turn into a 13-mile day due to being unable to find a spot to camp.
The trail is located directly across from the overflow camping area and we were soon greeted with mud and tree roots (aka trip hazards). It was misty and seriously humid and the mosquitos were horrible during the first hour of the morning.
Our packs were loaded down and this was the first day hiking with our full load (an extra 15 pounds for myself, with a pack weight of 45 pounds). The day was going to be slow.
We knew it was going to be a long day, so we decided we would stop at every mile marker and take a quick 5-minute break.
There was a lot of creek crossings during just the first mile.
Clayton took the opportunity to scare the crap out of me while recording video and for the first half of the morning it drizzled and rained which felt great.
We did our first road walk of the trail today, it wasn’t too bad but it seemed to go on forever (even though it was only around 2 miles) especially since I had to tinkle and decided I could hold it (stupid). It was fenced off private property on both sides, so literally no where to go find a spot.
Shortly after the road walk (and after an immediate potty break) we hiked to a pond so we could fill up with water (filtered of course). Clayton learned how to filter water in the backcountry.
Once we filled up our water it was time to hike to the funnest portion of this section, the Camelia Lake Dam and Spillway which is a private lake located within a subdivision. The trail crosses right over the spillway so precaution needs to be taken when crossing it as it is slippery.
Once we crossed the spillway we were immediately greeted by ankle to calf deep mud thanks to construction equipment that had made huge ruts and caused it to be a huge muddy/soggy mess. Due to this it also obscured the trail which made the trail very hard to find.
We had planned to make camp shortly after the spillway, but could not find a spot due to downed trees and widow makers so we ended up hiking another 2.5 miles to get to Alligator Branch Swamp where we finally found a place to make camp, bonus that it was right near a creek with clear water.
It was an exhausting day, so once we reached camp we set up our tents, cooked dinner and then both went straight to bed despite that it was only about 6:30 pm. I didn’t even bother to film us heading into camp or setting up camp because I was that exhausted lol.
Watch the Video =)
LSHT Day 3 - YouTube
Trail Condition: Muddy (ankle to calf deep in places), not as bad as prior sections. Camping: Didn’t see many good camping spots. Around mile 29 (before you get to 29 and after the road walk) there is a primitive campsite for camping next to a pond. The next camp spots would be Alligator Branch Swamp after mile 33. We were following the guidebook which said there were some good site for camping before then, but could not find those spots (downed tree’s and/or widow makers). Water Sources: Several creeks from mile 20 to 26, however only reliable sources we saw were the pond around mile 29 and the Creek around mile 33. You do not want to filter from the lake unless it is a last resort due to run off from laws (fertilizer, etc..)