JUNE 10, 2017: 10 a.m. departure
Starting pack weights: Neemor’s Mom: 34, Pan: 31, Lil’ Librarian: 21
Approx. Mileage: Burnt Mill Bridge to just past the O&W Bridge: 10.5 miles
For the 45 minute drive out to the Southern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace at Burnt Mill Bridge (TN), I can’t deny that I wondered what we were thinking – a 53 year old woman and her 17 & 10 year old daughters setting out to spend every day for weeks walking encumbered with large loads on our backs. What are we thinking?
Elated by the sunny skies and 66 degrees & finally getting started on what was long in the planning, we said goodbye to our faithful shuttler and set out into the woods heading north along the Clear Fork River. Full of both dismay as well as excited about what could be, we veered off the trace within the first mile intent on following the water instead of the signs. Quick lesson learned, we were more diligent in watching for the sign of the turtle the rest of the day.
We passed through one of our favorite areas of the trail this day – Honey Creek in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Since Lil’ Librarian had begun to tire at mile 5, it was good to have this varied area as distraction - rock scrambles, caves to crawl through and ropes to help scale the rock faces. We talked about bringing the rest of the family back here soon.
There were many people day hiking. As we were heading up a path, a man and woman came around a corner. He looked astonished and grinned, “Are you Neemor’s Mom?” Wow this is as close as I have ever come to feeling famous. He recognized me and my daughters from my son’s YouTube hiking & vlog channel. We chatted a while about the area and hiking then pressed on.
By evening we crossed over the historic O&W Bridge and began to look for a campsite. Since this is an easy car access area, many of the sites were taken, and we had to walk a bit past the bridge.
As dusk was approaching we pitched our tent in a little site overlooking the river. The girls found a small creek to get water and wash up. Tonight’s menu included Bean Boss Soup. Hungry, they ate it, but it wasn’t a favorite. The best part? - the corn – not the beans so much. Pan took on the task of hanging our food bags, and we climbed in the tent not having much trouble falling asleep to the sounds of the creek and occasional laughter from the people camping down below us.