Hiking (part of) the Tecumseh Trail
Sunday was a very busy day for us. It started with a hike with my mountain biking buddy Dave at Yellowwood State Forest. Dave has done a ton of hiking, especially in this area, and even wrote a hiking guide that covers many local trails — but this was the first time I had hiked with him. We had planned this hike last week — Sarah and I wanted to pick his brain about our trip to the Smokies and North Carolina, and Dave has been down there probably 30 times, so he is full of great information.
We met by Prange (some spell it “Prang”) Pond, which is just off Dubois Ridge Road (which is just off Lanam Ridge Road, where Dave and I have ridden on the road a few times). It’s fairly out of the way and in the outskirts of Yellowwood, so it doesn’t see a lot of traffic. We hiked part of the Tecumseh Trail, which is a huge, 42-mile trail that goes from Martinsville all the way to part of Lake Monroe that’s in Brown County. We only hiked about three miles of it.
It was a really cool hike, with some hills, but none were too hard. Dave is a fountain of knowledge and pointed out some sassafras, an old well, and some very valuable trees (not having any branches until about 3/4 of the way up). It was an interesting hike because it wasn’t just a linear section of trail — we hiked on the Tecumseh Trail, a horse trail, some logging roads, and a gravel road, creating a pretty cool loop. We were glad to have Dave as our guide, because it would have been easy to get lost.
The trail was pretty overgrown in some sections; we wished we hadn’t worn shorts. I’m not sure I have any pants that are well-suited for hiking.
I was really glad that Sarah and Dave got to know each other a bit. I have spent quite a bit of time mountain biking with Dave, and told her a lot of stories, and conveyed a lot of things Dave told me to her. But this was the first time they spent any significant amount of time together, and I thought that was pretty cool.
The pond with some cattails, and some wildflowers
Dave brought his dogs (we left Rob at home), and they were good. It was fun having them with us. Maybe next time, we’ll bring Rob. Rory, one of Dave’s dogs, went for a swim in the pond when we got back, ending up a disgusting mess — exactly how dogs love to be.
The Abandoned Homestead Hike
Sunday afternoon, we talked about how much we enjoyed the earlier hike and decided to go for another one. We picked a couple of possibilities from Dave’s hiking guide, and ended up doing the Abandoned Homestead Hike, which is near the Ransburg Boy Scouts Reservation near Lake Monroe. The defining characteristic of this hike (aside from the abandoned homestead) was the lack of a trail. A few parts had a proper trail, but it was either overgrown or nonexistent for much of the time. After a false start that took us down near the lake, we went back to a different trailhead.
When you go the wrong way and see something like this, you begin to question whether it was indeed the wrong way to go.
We saw a guy on his way out as we were going in, and asked if we were heading the right way. He said we were, and that there was a baby vulture in the attic of the homestead. He said it was making a horrible shrieking sound.
Glad to have some assurance that we were on the right track, we continued hiking. We basically had to find our own way much of the time, due to the lack of a trail. That gave this hike an interesting challenge. It was a really pretty area, and we were hiking along a ridgetop. However, there was a lot of noise from boats on the lake that was pretty distracting. It detracted from the feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere. It was enjoyable nonetheless.
Just when we were beginning to wonder where this homestead was, Sarah spotted it. We had to maneuver over a tricky area to get to it. It was a rickety old house — although as Sarah pointed out, it couldn’t have been too old because it had electricity. We saw no other clues to help date it, but we did wonder how somebody picked that spot to build a home, and how they got the materials there. We saw no evidence of any vultures, babies or otherwise, but we weren’t about to try looking upstairs.
We hiked a bit further and found ourselves heading down a big hill. We ended up back where we had started hiking before at what we thought was the wrong trailhead. It wasn’t the one we were looking for, but it was just another part of the same trail. We turned around and headed back, having some more trouble finding the trail on our way back.
Nighttime Canoeing on Lake Griffy
Sarah had signed us up for a nighttime canoeing event on Lake Griffy, so after eating some dinner, we headed over there. There was a limited number of boats, and I think they chose a good limit — there was enough space that nobody was interfering with anyone else’s enjoyment of it. A man and his son were in the boat ahead of us, and as they were backing up away from the boat ramp, the man looked back to check on his wife and daughter, who were in the canoe ahead of them, and their canoe capsized right there by the shore. The guy was really embarrassed, and his son was pretty scared, but nobody was hurt. The guy did lose a sandal. He turned the canoe upright, but it was filled with water. I helped dump the water out of the canoe and turn it back over. They headed out. I felt his son was being pretty brave, not complaining and giving it another shot. We were next, and nervous after seeing that, but we didn’t have any problems.
The night paddle was timed such that we got to see the sun set over the lake, and also paddle some in the dark. It was an incredible experience. It was a beautiful sunset to begin with, but the way it reflected off the water was truly magical.
Looking at the above shot, I can still feel us gliding over the surface of the lake, even without paddling, and hear the water dripping off of our paddles and falling in the water.
We spent most of our time in the middle of the lake and in a small cove, hidden away from everyone else. We saw a Great Blue Heron standing in the water majestically, who later took flight and swooped to a different area. We saw another one fly overhead a few minutes later. There were geese over near the dam — they didn’t seem to notice our presence at all. Then again, we mostly sat awestruck and silent.
The array of colors was impressive, from blues at first to oranges, pastel purple and later deep reds.
As we sat in our cove, with darkness falling, we started to see bats flying around, sometimes swooping down to catch a meal on the surface of the water. We heard something swimming not too far from us, and I turned on my flashlight to see if we could figure out what it was. Sarah guessed it was a muskrat, but we didn’t get a good look. We also heard some unidentified creature jump into the water, making a splash and startling us. We didn’t get a good look at that one, either.
We paddled back without turning on our flashlight. The air was beautiful and hushed and our eyes adjusted to the light. It’s surprising how much you can see if you’ll just let your eyes adjust. The moon was glowing behind some clouds, not providing much light, but adding to the atmosphere. We paddled back to the boat ramp, wishing we had more time — more time to paddle on the lake, and more time in our weekend, which was quickly coming to a close. But we felt satisfied that we had made the most of it and spent every possible moment together, outdoors, at one with each other, and with nature.