October 16th 2014
I took a couple of days off to hike the Backpack Trail in East Fork State Park. I really enjoyed this trip. It was a nearly perfect two days in a beautiful wood. The Fall colors had not quite "peaked", but nearly so. The Backpacking Trail is just over 8 miles in. I hiked about 6 of it in on a Thursday, then hiked it back out the next day. Going during the week was a real win. I didn't see a single person all day Thursday. Even on Friday I saw more deer than people.
After some of my recent trips, I found this one pretty easy going. There was some elevation changes, but nothing dramatic. For an Ohio trail, there were a surprising number of switch-backs. I got the feeling the switch-backs were added just to pad miles on the trail. Otherwise, I think it would have been too short to be considered a "backpacking trail." Even still, I was out of shape enough I got tired before I reached the end. It took me about four hours to hike in and about 3 to hike back out.
The trail itself was well maintained. At no point did I find any obstructions. There were no treacherous sections. I did get "lost" a couple of times. The trail I was on is shared with at one time or another with several other trails. I found the markings to be fairly confusing and inconsistent. It caused me to backtrack a couple times; stop and study my map a couple times. But I was never very far from anything. I think I could have bushwhacked my way in any direction at any time and been "somewhere" within a few minutes.
I would imagine hiking this on the weekend would be much like my Zaleski trip. The trail crossed three or four paved park roads. There was some amount that seemed to parallel the park roads (unlike Zaleski that seemed to parallel a state highway). On the weekend I'd expect these roads to be busier. The park is beautiful and quite close to Cincinnati. I can only imagine it gets quite busy on the weekends. Thursday I saw no one. Friday I saw seven people before lunch. Both days if I were still I could clearly hear cars on nearby highways. That didn't really bother me though. While I was hiking, my own coat and feet russling in the leaves made much more noise. At night I could still hear traffic sounds, but not enough to bother me.
The trip itself was fairly uneventful. I started on the tail at about 1pm. By 5pm I was tired and my feet hurt. I had wanted to get further and had plenty of daylight. But I didn't see any reason to push. So I found a nice knoll and setup my hammock off the trail. Technically you're supposed to register for a camp site. I didn't, nor did I stay at a designated site. This is probably my best "stealth" site yet. I walked the trail all around my camp and could barely make it out.
After I setup camp, I thought, "I'll just rest my feet for a bit." Laying down in the hammock was so nice I almost dozed off immediately. It was so nice and cozy I didn't get back up until about 9am the next morning. I didn't get up an fix dinner. I didn't get up during the night for "business." I just layed in my hammock for about 15 hours straight. I had high plans of doing deep thinking and reflecting. Instead I just slept.
It's hard for me to feel bad about it though. I really enjoyed my two days out in the woods.