Friday, May 16, 2014

Hiking 130KM in 15 days

Hiked 130km in 15 days through 7 States

WE LOVE TRAILS! This was a vacation focused on Trails! We wanted to stay close to home this trip, so, we traveled for less then 6 to 3 hours between adventures.

10km in Ohio's Geneva on the Lake

We started in Ohio, hiked around Geneva on the Lake.  We hiked the main drag through the marina lodge, through a State Park and back.  Enough for Buddy to find his first fish and ROLL! NOOO!
We like to start in Geneva on the Lake, see our good friends and enjoy this fun Summer town.

30km in Camp Creek State Park, West Virginia

Next we traveled to West Virginia were we hiked 30kms through Camp Creek State Park.

It's lovely. However, we had an adventure where Buddy went missing in the 5,300 acres of forest land. Duke rescued Buddy. To see all the details of that adventure please visit our blog Buddy Goes Missing, Duke to the Rescue. 

64 km (or 40miles) of trails, we only explored 30 km of them.  Two included finding waterfalls, LOVE that.

They had all types of camp sites. Sites with electricity were $23 per night.  

Camp Creek State Park's had excellent hiking through rolling hills.  The camping was good, not very private though, we'd have liked more trees, but we did back onto a small creek.

We were able to hike and view the waterfalls without any crowds. Trail maps were a little off, but, the trails were very well marked and an excellent challenge.

We met some wonderful people while there, they recommended we go to Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia for some excellent camping and hiking. So, that's where we headed to next.

20km Hungry Mother State Park, Virginia 

We ended up being the ONLY ones in a camping in the loop we were in. Just us and the Camp Hosts. The Camp Hosts were new, it was their first week was Camping hosts ever and the wife of the couple had never camped before. They were very excited. They get to camp for 6 weeks, while hosting those who come to the camp. Limited duties actually sounded fun!

The campsite was amazing, we had a site on the bend of the creek, so, we had a babbling creek on two sides of our site.

They had all types of camp sites. Sites with electricity were $30 per night.  
The trails at Hungry Mother State Park were excellent, the maps were bang on and there were a TON of other activities if one wanted. About 2,900 acres. The lake is 108 acres.
This park also has a wonderful lake with kayaking, canoeing and much more to offer.

20km Lake Powhatan right outside of Ashville, North Carolina

The hiking was excellent. The people in this state must be the MOST in shape and friendliest people anywhere.

Locals were running and biking up these hills like it was nothing.  People of ALL ages. 

Lake Powhatan Recreation Area is in the center of Bent Creek Experimental Forest, it's the is the oldest federal experimental forest east of the Mississippi river. 6,000 acres within the Pisgah National Forest near Asheville, 

Camp sites where well treed.  The hiking maps were very good and the trails were marked well.
 $22/night for full hook up sites.

The locals in North Carolina are also some of the MOST friendly people we've met. Everyone says hello are very welcoming. You can tell the tourist as they aren't as friendly.

There weren't very many tourists this time of year, the locals seemed to take breaks in their day to come up from Asheville to run or bike through the hills.

Exploring Asheville, North Carolina

The locals we ran into on the trails had said that dogs rule in Asheville, they're allowed in most of the shops. NICE! We had to go see. We popped into the City of Asheville.  

 We had fun exploring the 2nd oldest Pawn Shop in the US. They where very proud of their shop Finkelstein.  

The weather is perfect in May. I can't imagine how WARM it would be in the summer.

Last hike in Asheville! Love it.

20km in South Fork National Lake Rec Center Tennessee

125,000 acres to explore! Yes I think.. can't wait I think.. HAHA... BUT the maps they give you are terrible as they don't show much, and the rangers didn't even know these trails where there!

The rangers must have been new. I asked them where the trails were, they said we had to get into a car and drive a few miles to find them. GUESS WHAT?? The trail heads were actually right at our campsite! I'm glad we always take a walk around and explore on our own.

So, we explored.  They were completely different trails, filled with interesting cliffs and ladders to get to different levels. We enjoyed it.

With this kind of wet grassy world we were in, we had to be careful of Ticks. We pulled a number each day off of both dogs. 

The campsites were good, fairly treed and not very busy this time of year.  They were $22/night for full hook up sites. 

Mammoth Caves National Park 20km in Kentucky 

This was extraordinary.  125,000 acres to explore on land plus 400 miles of caves to explore underground. It was very impressive.  We took two cave tours, the dripstone and the historical tour. Very different tours exploring different parts of the underground world.

Campsite was called Primitive Camping, meaning, no water or electricity at your campsite. However, their facilities were excellent and they had laundry.

Jerry has his special pass so we get National parks at half price, so, I think this cost us only $8.50/night.

The trails were well marked, but the maps were pretty weak.

We found a very green river, called the Green River.  It was So hot the boys needed to go it, much to my worries.. But, they seemed to be fine and they VERY much enjoyed the swim.  I think that Buddy went in deeper than he hoped, he hasn't actually swam yet, Duke's the water baby.

We explored the caves the next day. The drip stone tour was excellent.  You entered the caves through a 250 step shaft straight down. 

This was the afternoon's  cave tour. Two miles 400 stairs up and down. Great history telling.

I love that Jerry wore his hat through the cave. This was a VERY narrow passageway. We barely got through.

10km East Fork State Park, Ohio

The beach was empty, all to ourselves. BUT, it wasn't really cleaned. I'm thinking it wasn't cleaned YET.  As it could be lovely. We were early in the season, they seemed understaffed or something.

Many of the bathrooms weren't open yet and the water wasn't on in any of the camp areas yet. That's all ok as we had our own water and bathroom.

It was a beautiful campsite.  It happens to be one of Ohio's largest state parks, 4,870-acre East Fork offers a great diversity of recreational opportunities and natural history only 25 miles from Cincinnat.

These sites were the best in size and shade, however, hard to beat the creek we had surrounding our campsite in Hungry Mother State Park.

We didn't have trail maps as the office was closed when we got there, so, couldn't really do the trails aggressively, it's ok, as it was SO hot.  91 degrees and we were starting to get tired (don't tell anyone that we tire.. ) So, we just did 10km over the two days we were there.

The boys were getting exhausted quickly in the heat.

They enjoyed sleeping on the cool cement picnic table in the shade or inside in the air conditioning.

Finally we visited the largest grocery store in North America, it's called Jungle Jims. It was nuts. Jerry was  a kid in a candy store.  But, more on that later, it deserves a blog all to itself.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Buddy goes MISSING - Duke to the Rescue!

Camp Creek State Park.. Lost Buddy & Duke Rescued HIM!

We hiked the first morning, none of us could sleep. So we hit the trails at 6:30am. We didn't see anyone. We did a most difficult and more difficult trail.  The most difficult was easy peasy coming back downhill. MANY trails to choose from.. We were in HEAVEN! Buddy and Duke were staying with me and being VERY well behaved. I had them on Leash most of the time, except those passes that were too narrow and steep. Even then they were on invisible leashes.  

It was beautiful. Waterfalls, leaves just coming in, everything fresh and alive. 5,300 acres to roam.

Our third hike had some drama to it.. We were on what they classify as their MOST DIFFICULT trail. So, very steep, many switch back, so minimal distance visibility and BIG winds. So, I had them off leash so we didn't kill each other, but, had them healing very close ahead of me, with their invisible leashes on. All of a sudden Buddy took off after something I didn't see.  Duke followed. I tapped them both with the invisible leash, Duke came back right away, ALONE.
I kept calling for Buddy and tapped him through the invisible leash, nothing. First time every he didn't respond. Yelled for at least 5mins, tapped for part if it and then stopped tapping, as after a while you know he just doesn't know where you are anymore, so using the invisible leash won't work as he won't know which way to go.  It was SO windy up on the mountain that he couldn't hear me much and our scent would be difficult to find too. 

Finally, I asked DUKE, where’s Buddy? Duke stood really still and tall for a few long moments. Then, he looked at me and turned and walked off the trail 90 degrees into the woods, and he looked back for me to follow.  I followed, whistling and callng the whole time. 

Duke lead me right to Buddy after 20 or 30 very long minutes! Buddy finally came back over a ridge right to us.. he was definitely out the way Duke was leading me.  Duke's amazing. 

So, Buddy was breathing hard, tongue hanging way down, panting, breathing really crazy heavy.  He circled us then ran to a stream 12 feet away from us and drank deeply and then laid in the stream for a while. We all just hung out there until he was breathing normal.

Then I asked Duke to find the path, as I was now lost, and he did that too. We continued our trek.  He stayed very close after that.

Duke was very proud of himself for finding Buddy. He too seemed exhausted afterwards. Duke and Buddy crashed hard when we got back to our campsite.  Buddy was panting even when he was sleeping.

Buddy came to first and kind of climbed up on Jerry as though to share with him what just happened.. He kept looking back at where Duke found him.

Buddy's been great on the camp site, he's pretty good at NOT barking at other dogs, he slips 20% of the time, we're working on it. But, he's sleeping all through the night, so, that part is wonderful. Duke's a veteran at this. .

I am hoping this is going to be the only drama we encounter.   

For our next day's walk we added a red Bear Bell to Buddy for an extra measure of safety in the mountain treks. WORK's GREAT! The combination of the invisible leash and the Bear Bell is perfect for our curious one year old Belgian Shepherd in these steep wild hikes.