On New Year’s Eve Eve, Dave and I got together for a hike. He had a couple of possible hikes in mind, so we discussed on the way out of town and decided where to go, deciding on the southern portion of Yellowwood State Forest.
The thing about Dave is, hiking with him is different from hiking with a normal person. He loves to explore, and he’s not overly concerned with staying on the trail. This can lead to some very memorable hikes, such as this one in search of a pond (which we never really found), or this one on the Old Axsom Branch “trail” that hasn’t been maintained in many years, yet features some of the best views of Lake Monroe I’ve seen.
This outing was not as epic as that one, but as Dave got out maps and showed me where he wanted to go, I realized we would spend plenty of time bushwhacking. His maps showed some trails, but much of it involved statements like “I think we can make our way down this ravine to Crooked Creek Lake,” and “I think we can find a way up the other side, and then hopefully connect with this other trail.” Some of the trails were horse trails, but others weren’t even established trails, just paths Dave spotted in satellite view in Google Maps.
I was intrigued, and ready for adventure. Oh yeah, did I mention it was raining on and off throughout the day?
We started out on what I believe is officially a horse trail, but it had a gravel surface for quite a while.
Logging is always a little disheartening to see, but it did open up some nice views.
We were mostly on ridgetops for a while.
As we hiked through this section, the rain started back up. By the time I got my poncho on (tearing it in the process) it had stopped again.
Soon the trail ended, and Dave didn’t skip a beat. He didn’t even slow down.
We were fascinated by this tree that had decayed so much that there was only a flat outline of it remaining on the ground.
It didn’t take long for us to find our way down to Crooked Creek Lake.
Sarah and I had hiked here a few years back, so I knew it was a rugged hike around the lake, bushwhacking most of the way. In fact, this was the most difficult part of the entire hike, making our way across steep hillsides covered in brush and slick rocks, with many trees felled by beavers blocking our path.
After we made our way around the lake, we started up the ravine on the other side. Dave said something like “I *think* there’s a trail up there …” And thus began the most strenuous part of the hike. I don’t know how long or how high we climbed, but it went on for quite a while, and we went straight up the side of the ravine. I certainly hoped we would find the trail, and sure enough, we did. I had to stop and catch my breath at the top.
From there, it was more easy ridgetop hiking back to the car. The sun was setting over a ridge as we finished our hike.
My GPS is very messed up right now, butit said we hiked 3.7 miles. In reality, it’s probably a little more than that. I’ll include the map, even though it’s missing some parts.
This hike was a blast! It makes me want to do more exploration hikes, trying to figure out ways to get from trails to places they don’t really connect to, or finding ways from one trail to another, etc. It’s very liberating to realize that you don’t always need to rely on a trail to get you where you want to go.