Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Lost and Found
June 6: Another difficult day started innocently enough. I strapped on Dave's apparatus and left the Brethren church, my home for the last two evenings. I made my long-awaited entrance into Chesterhill four miles later and hit Ernie's for the cheapest breakfast I have found yet. Three dollars for biscuits and gravy, plus two pancakes on the side. I couldn't even finish, quite a rarity for this calorie-devouring hiker.
I went across the street and said goodbye to Betty at the bank where she works. I don't know where I would be without the help of her of Dave.
My intended destination was just north of Burr Lake. The ADT manual claims a campsite is located there. The walk was easy at first, heading on a lightly traveled highway, passing by farms of all shapes and sizes. I spotted my first horse and buggy sign, alerting me that I was in the land of the Amish.
Before long I saw them in the flesh, a family of six tending the crops with their pimped out buggy standing idly by, waiting to be called upon. I waved, but they did not seem to notice my presence. Later on, a young Amish man passed me, his long black bird looking as if it were taped onto his face. He waved to me and gave a big smile - I don't think he had ever experienced the thrill of passing someone on the highway before.
Shortly thereafter I met Debora who filled my water and talked with me about the project. She drove up behind me later on her ATV and gave me a donation and the most delicious apple I have ever eaten.
The route grew more challenging as I neared the park on back roads. I missed a turn, but the Google maps I had printed were a life-saver, allowing me to re-route and return to the trail.
As you have probably already guessed, the area north of Burr did not possess the promised camping area. I saw on my map of Burr Oak Lake there was definitely a site at Boat Dock #3, three more miles ahead on the Burr Loop Trail.
I was tired after nearly twenty miles, but with water supplies low I felt I had to press onward. One mile into the loop I ran into a road. I followed the blazes to see where the trail re-started, but I could not find the re-entry point where the blazes petered out.
I walked down the road only to find a dead end half a mile away. The houses were all empty, weekend getaways with their owners absent for another few days, this being Monday. I briefly considered back-tracking to get help, but I had seen no one for the last two hours of walking. I was in a state of panic, with little water and little idea what to do. Then, as I paced back and forth I noticed something I had missed. Several feet behind some mail boxes was the trail - I had just assumed they were in front of a private property and had not examined the area thoroughly enough. There were no blazes on the mail boxes - you had to be directly in front of them to see those in the woods behind.
I plunged back into Burr Loop, racing against the fading sun. The two miles seemed to take hours, the brush closed around me, not allowing a glimpse of where I was on the lake. I slipped once and fell, moved on, but had to backtrack when I noticed a water bottle missing. Adrenaline pumping, I gained a level of energy I shouldn't have had given my fatigue.
I pushed forward, praying for the opening that would indicate the dock. Then, suddenly, there it was. I was near tears to see the water fountain and gorged myself on its contents. When a young lady and her grandmother pulled up moments later, I told them my story and they offered to take me to the lodge. Having slept in the open for a week, I gave into the temptation and acquiesced.
Twenty two miles later I find myself in a warm bed with 586 clicks under my belt, shaken but not yet beaten.
22 miles/586 total miles