I will park at Bowman Lake State Park, where there is a parking lot at MP 3.5 of Map 24.  With my day pack, I will hike 4.8 miles back to MP 12.5 of Map 23, where I left off last week.  Then I will hike back to the car for 9.6 miles, which will take about 4:48.

Then I will take my overnight pack and hike 6.8 miles to the Ludlow Creek lean to at MP 10.3, taking another 3:24.  I will camp overnight and in the morning, tag the end of Map 24 at MP 12.2, and then back to the lean-to without my pack, 3.6 miles round trip in 1:48.  Then I will hike back to the car 6.8 miles in 3:48.

Day Pack - 9.6 miles 4:48

Full Pack - 13.6 miles 6:48

No Pack - 3.6 miles - 1:48

Total - 26.8 miles - 13:24

Well, That was the plan.  And I followed it pretty closely.

I parked by the beach at Bowman Lake State Park, a really nice little park, with campsites, a shower building, a bathhouse, concessions, etc., and open year round.  I noticed  a few campsites occupied on my drive through.  I started out with my day pack and hiked north (west) to tag where I left off last week.  When I got to Tower Road the second time and started walking up it, I saw the fire tower immediately.  The trail goes closer to it than the photo, but it looked impressive off in the distance.  I thought about going up it if possible.

Hiking over the top of Berry Hill on Tower Road was a chilling experience, with about a 25 mph wind in my face.  I decided to bypass the side road to the tower and kept walking, to CR 10, then down a big hill, and right on the road to my destination.  Up that big hill, and at the cross roads I turned around.  This was mile 12.5 of map 23, and my current destination.  The map and elevation profile of this leg, 4.8 miles by the map, but 4.6 by the GPS, are shown below.

Here, I turned around and backtracked to my car, snacking along the way on jerky and brazil nuts.  Back in the woods, I met about 25 boy scouts and 6 fathers out for a hike.  Some of them had big packs, but I don't know where a bivouac site was in the direction they were heading.

Back at the car, in 3:24, not a bad time for 9.6 miles, I changed socks, ate some hard boiled eggs and cheese, and donned my heavy pack for the next part.  I started out and immediately wondered if this was a good idea - the pack seemed heavy and the feet sore.  But I decided to give it a try and kept going.  Up, out of the park, and finally off the road into the woods for a little.  There are stone walls all over the place in these woods.  These must have been pastures in days gone by.

The bridge (below) was built by a scout troop as an eagle scout project.  Good thing it was there, but it took some maneuvering to get across, since this tree had fallen across it.  My feet got sorer, and there was another long road walk, but through East McDonough I went, and back into the woods.  Someplace one of my lined mittens had fallen out of my pocket; oh well, too bad, better find it on the way back tomorrow.  The last few miles I was stumbling along, my feet and right knee really sore.  But there was the lean-to, and just as I got there, 3 kids on 2 ATVs also arrived.  I parked in the lean to and we had a little small talk.  They went down to the creek, 90 yards down a steep bank, and running fast.  I looked for a branch for my food bag.  After a while they came back up to the lean-to.  They asked if I was hiking through or spending the night - I'm staying, says I.  And, they decided to take off.  They had parked right in front of the lean-to, maybe 8 inches from the deacon's bench.  I was too tired and they were too big to pick a fight by telling them they were not supposed to be on these trails in motor vehicles.

This leg was 11.6 per the map, and 11.4 per the GPS.  The day's hike was 6:00 moving time.

I hung the food bag and took my boots off.  A huge blister on my heel, where I got the hot spot last week, decided my course for me.  Even though it was scant 4 pm and I had plenty of light left, I could not walk any farther today.  Hopefully the blister would heal enough overnight to hike tomorrow.  There was 3.6 miles with no pack to tag the east end of Map 24, and then 6.8 back to the car with the pack.

It would have to wait.  I got in my bag to get warm and slept for an hour.  After that, I got some water, made dinner, and decided to pack up the stove and pots, because I could have a cold breakfast on the trail in the morning.  Bear bag hung, I got back into the sleeping bag and fell asleep as it got dark.  It was a clear, bright night with the moon waxing gibbous and 87% visible.  Even with the moon that bright, the stars were bright also.

When I woke up at 6:33, it was 22 in the lean-to.  I packed up and was hiking by 7:13.  I made better time than I planned, and found my lost mitten on the trail right where I had dropped it.  Back to the car in 3 hours.  This leg was 6.8 miles according to both the map and the GPS.

2006 April 08 FLT