Trippers: Anna, Joe, Justin, Jason, and Rob
So we decided a while back that we would have to hike the entire Knobstone in a weekend; somehow that became let's do it in less then 24 hours, and then someone started claiming they could it in under 18. Little did they know the terrors in store...
We got going late friday, ended up at our trailhead, south end Deam Lake, at about midnight. It was a little colder then anyone expected it to be, so we ended up sleeping three people in the back of my hatchback civic, just the thing to keep us warm no doubt, but a little cramped. A feeble attempt was made to get going about 5:30, that didn't go over well, so we ended up hitting the trail about 7:45 saturday morning, after a breakfast of donuts and way too much chocolate milk (which I was going to seriously regret later on...)
The first 4 miles or so were really flat, easy going and we only had to pull the map out twice, but on the fifth mile someone started getting blisters and the group started spreading out. By the eighth mile, there was probably a good twenty minutes between the first and last hiker, the hills had gotten a little more interesting, and I had discovered what a bad idea chocolate milk is before hiking. At ten miles we stopped for lunch, everyone with various doubts as to the merits of this plan; people were straggling already and it was barely noon. But with feet taped up and some food, it was looking good again.
After lunch, the trail continues to get a little nastier, still nothing too bad, but we pretty quickly spread out and lost track of eachother; by 1, we were all pretty much hiking by ourselves. About 4:30, seventeen miles in, Jason decides he's had enough, and we leave him at New Chapel trailhead to bemoan his abused feet. At this point, neither Joe or I had seen Justin or Rob since early afternoon, but we had cached water at the Leota traihead, so were planning on regrouping there, hopefully before dark.
Well that was the plan, to hit Leota before dark and get the worst part of the trail done before midnight, between Leota and Elk Creek. What we didn't plan on was everyone getting hopelessly lost at mile 22; the trail turns off apparently but there's a VERY trail-looking deer path that keeps going on down the ridge, we spent 45 minutes wandering around looking for the elusive white blazes...By the time we find the path again, its getting dark, and we spend the next 2 1/2 miles practically on our hands and knees looking for the trail. So we rolled into the trailhead to find Rob's got a fire going, in the parking lot, Justin had spent about two hours wandering at the same place we got lost and had just gotten in; he had spent the evening singing really loudly so hunters didn't shoot him (I wish I remembered the words to the song, it was a winner though, believe me).
At this point, with a fire going and once everyone had sat down, it was a lost cause. In our defense, we couldn't have done the trail between Leota and Elk Creek in the dark without someone breaking a leg, and we were actually still on track to make our twenty 24 timeframe if we'd gotten going again. Last spring, when we hiked that middle section, we had actually started late at night, and had no problem following the trail, but with the fallen leaves covering everything and nothing on the trees, it was totally impossible this time. So we all crash at the trailhead, waking up only when random drunken guys in pickup trucks pull up with their brights on and get out to take a piss. Gotta love southern Indiana...
When we woke up the next morning, we realized 1) we all had to be back at a reasonable hour to do homework, so we couldn't spend 15 hrs on the trail and 2) our cars are about 20 miles away either direction we go. so Justin and Rob embark on a hitchiking adventure and your fearless bp consultants crawl back into their sleeping bags and sleep until noon (rationalizing this is easy; you can't hitchike with four people, right? far too many.) We ended up being woken up when the guys that we backpacked with last month, a group from BPer magazine, pull into the trailhead and recognize us, after coming over to check if we're still alive, so that was a funny meeting.
Justin and Rob finally make it back with the car, much to our relief as it's about 4:30 at this point and we're still hanging out at the trailhead, and we head home to our enlish essays and spanish portfolios, (after nearing forgetting to pick up our fifth hiker). Next time? Gotta do it in the spring. If we could have hiked through the night...