Lone Star Hiking Trail 2015

Solo Thru Hike of the Lone Star Hiking Trail – 12/28/2014 – 1/2/2015 (Entry #1)

LST1

After all the backpacking trips and adventures I have done, I can finally claim to have thru-hiked something! Please don’t misunderstand me..It is great section hiking and hiking half or part of something if that is what the call of the wild is for you at that season in your life but to start at the beginning of a trail, wide eyed, full of excitement as to what the boots will travel over, and take that last step of a trail now hopefully more wise and maybe a little more physically weary than when you began…now more alive spiritually and emotionally, is really just plain cool….feeling the emotions of the ebb and flow of the pathway set before you as each mile passes.

Below are my journal entries of this trip. Please understand that some thoughts are completely random and I do digress…after 6 days essentially completely alone in the woods, I think some random thoughts are pretty normal. Ha! These entries represent where I was at the time of writing them on this journey and I feel it is important to share with other folks interested in doing something like this or for those that for some reason think they can’t. If I can do it, so can you if you have the desire! Thank you for going on this journey with me.

Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” JM (1888)

Journal Entry #1: Saturday, December 27, 2014

Travel Day: – Bulverde to Richards, Texas – Sam Houston National Forest. (4 hrs, 200 miles)

Weather: Thunderstorms, 41 degrees

The day has arrived and today is the day for new beginnings!!! The plan is to make the 4 hour drive to the Sam Houston National Forest, get checked into our campsite at Stubblefield Campground, drive approx. 100 miles on backcountry county roads through the forest strategically placing my water caches and then eventually leaving my truck at Winters Bayou Trailhead #15 at the end of the Lonestar Hiking Trail. Brian and i are driving separate vehicles so that we can leave my truck at the end and he can drop Josh and me at the beginning tomorrow. Josh is doing the first 20 miles of the hike with me so he can satisfy that requirement for his Hiking Merit badge for Boy Scouts so I am excited about having him with me for the first day.

My family has been amazing at making this trip happen as just the planning alone has taken over 3 months to work out all the fine details. My mom agreed to come Saturday afternoon to tend to all the chickens/goats and our basset hound and spend the night so she could wake early to then again tend to the chickens and goats. Not to mention that Brian has to drive all the way there and for his back this is a long and uncomfortable drive. He also has agreed to camp Saturday night which hasn’t happened in years so that Josh can wake up and hike with me. I am so grateful for all the coordination and help that has gone into allowing this crazy mom take 5 days away from her family so she can go walk into the unknown to take a cleansing breathe and rediscover her focus for the next season she is embarking on.

So, why go on this journey? My answers are the same as when I wrote about my Appalachian Trail adventure: Peace, Clarity, Quiet, Step into the Unknown, Adventure, Encounter the Unexpected, Challenge, Desire to be Pushed to Limit (emotionally, physically, spiritually), Undistracted Time with the Lord, and to show our boys Not To Be Afraid of the Unknown…and I may be a glutton for a little pain as well! Ha! Life circumstances have changed since i wrote this in 2011 but it is all still 100% true for this trip.

 

This morning began at 6am since everything was loaded last night. I left Brian and the boys to pack for themselves since they are camping too so hope they didn’t forget anything! I figure Josh has camped enough by now with me that he should be able to help his dad pack to camp one night, right? All that was left for me to do this morning was to take a deep breathe, clear my mind to make room for new thoughts for the day, get the family up and moving and tend to the animals with a goal of driving out by 7:15am. Sounds easy enough right? As I mentioned already, todays goal was to check in at Stubblefield Campground, praying that it wasn’t full with all the hunters in the local area. We would set up camp, then starting driving to hide my water and then leave the truck…this was the plan in my head….funny how things never work out that way. 🙂 Now this is how it really happened….

We left the house at 7:45am in a major downpour with thunderstorms pelting our cars as we drove down 46 towards New Braunfels(see video above!). Before we left I discovered one of our chickens was egg bound…again.. but i couldn’t stay to help her through it like i normally do so i had to leave her laying on the floor of the coop unable to walk or move. About broke my heart but prayed over her and left her circumstance up to the Great Healer and wished her the best. The cold front that was expected to arrive Saturday afternoon when mom was to arrive at the house for the evening of course came early and arrived as we left so poor Crockett watched shivering as we drove away in the cold. It rained 4 straight hours all the way to the campground, which was completely deserted when we got there…wonder why? Ha! The weather was awful that day but i was confident that sunshine was on its way…boy was I naive that day as who would have guessed the weather forecast for the next 7 days! Hahaha! As i pulled into campground there was no one sitting around the campfires, no children chasing each other around tents, no one unhitching their trailers….it was dead empty. I had the thought at the moment as we pulled in how miserable my family would be that day and night there, especially since my husband is not a camper and the weather was less than ideal. Had I been alone, I would have set up camp rain or shine and moved on…but something told me that something in my plans for the day was about to change. As I got out of the truck, Brian followed me to the camp bathroom that had an overhang, we stood there looking at the rain already pooling within the tent pads at each site and he looked at me and said we are going to Hunstville to get a hotel for the night. I started to argue as this was not what I had planned and we were on a tight time schedule to get my water in place and drop the truck, but he was not going to camp and that was that. I seem to always need to work on not being so controlling so reluctantly agreed and got back in the truck and followed him to the Huntsville La Quinta. The boys were excited to stay in a hotel and I realized it might not be so bad getting one good dry warm nights sleep before my long week plus I knew Brian would be more comfortable there which would make things run more smoothly. With all the metal he has in his back, sleeping on the ground is not like sleeping in our sleep number bed for sure.

Once checked in, we got into our separate cars, me rocking to the Sweet Home Alabama while Brian insisted on keeping the boys with him so I could focus on my week and so he rocked to the noise of sweet boys for the next 4 hours that it took to find all the water drop spots marked on my maps and drive the back roads to get there. Some spots were easy to find where the trail crossed the main roads, other locations were harder to find along muddy, dirt, hole ridden back roads. I was fine driving all the roads in my truck and actually had fun going muddin’, but as I looked in my rear view mirror, I could only imagine the choice words coming out of Brian’s mouth as he drove extremely slow in his new Honda Accord through those muddy, dirt, hole ridden back roads. He was a great sport about it and didn’t complain once to me about it…He was even smiling as we had to pull alongside each other to coordinate the next drop plan.

LST2

So 2 concerns with placing food or water caches for a hike include 1) the hiker needs to remember where the items are hidden (you would be surprised at how all the pine trees at each trailhead or road crossing look just alike) and 2) that someone finds your cache and steals it which could be detrimental to your hike if you were counting on those items to be there. But for me, this is where faith came in and all I could do was pray that they would be there when I needed them and if they weren’t, that just meant there was another adventure awaiting me along this journey. With all the rain we were experiencing currently I did feel kinda silly hiding water, but all the data books said that water could be very scarce on the trail so I just didn’t want to take a chance with my 17, 19 and 20 mile days ahead of me. That would be nothing more of a bummer than getting to camp and having no water to cook with to have a hot meal, especially if this cold weather didn’t clear out. I had a gut feeling the creeks would be nicely swollen with good water flow…I just didn’t know how right I was about that one!

Water drop #1 was placed at the Parking Lot #7 at the I-45 junction of the trail. I took a picture of where I hid it in order to help me remember as one bundle of pine straw looked the same as a bundle across the same trail. It was great to be at that particular drop location because I got to see the 2.5 miles of road walking I had to do on the access road of I45 and PR40 before entering the woods again. I hate road walking with a passion, one because I am obviously clearly visible as a solo female hiker on the road to passerbys that may not have such great intentions and second because road walking kills the neuroma in my foot. (I have battled a neuroma since I was about 20 and I hiked through soo much pain while on the Appalachian Trail, I truly thought I had killed the nerve when it all of the sudden stopped hurting completely on day 9 on that hike. Unfortunately, I think it just went into shock from all the trauma but it is back in full swing now. Boo!) So at least seeing where I would be walking, I could mentally be prepared for it knowing it was coming up with all the truckers that were zooming by at a high rate of speed. I have never had this advantage on previous hikes…to kind of scout out some of the my route ahead of time. Then that same day, not too much later, i would have another 3.4 miles of a country road walk along Four Notch Road, so lots of road time on that day. I left water drop #2 at the intersection of FM2296 and Four Notch Rd. Drop #3 was across FM206 at the trail crossing. My 4th water refill would actually be at the Evergreen Baptist Church as they had agreed to allow thru hikers access to their water hose to replenish their water according to my trail guide so that was great. As we drove by the church, I made visual with the hose so was confident I was taken care of at that location. The 5th and last water cache would be at the Parking Lot #14. All drops were in place and ready to be found over the next week. I felt like a weight had been lifted when we finished as I was now one more step closer to beginning this adventure. It was exciting to see all the LSHT white blazes along the roads and at the trail crossings as the last time i followed white blazes was on the AT so I have fond memories of white blazes.

So we headed to the last parking lot and nestle my truck under the tall pines and I say a prayer that the truck is still there/isn’t vandalized when I finish on January 2nd. As I glanced at the point where the trail opens to the parking lot, I wondered for a moment what I would be thinking as I came through the woods and crossed the hiker gate there and made that first visual with the truck at the end. Would I be smiling after an easy hike? Would I be crawling to the truck due to foot pain? Would I even make it through that hiker gate and instead have to get off the trail early due to injury or an emergency? Well, those questions are all the things that made this trip exciting…only God knows what will happen…I am just here to walk out the script that He already has written.

 

With a full day done, we head to grab a big dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate and get some carbs in me before the long next day. Brian and Sam decided while Josh and I were hiking that they would head to the Huntsville prison museum so they had their day planned. I hoped Josh and I would be done with our day at 4pm, but Josh didn’t train at all so just not sure how slow or fast he will hike. Not to mention rain was expected all day on Sunday for Day 1 which will slow us down a little. My excitement to hike this first leg with my son was overflowing as I knew how special that was even if he was doing it for his hiking merit badge primarily and not to hang with his mom. Ha! I am grateful for that quiet time with him, have him experience a piece of what I was about to encounter and teach him some things I knew about backpacking and trail life along the way.

Well, we are all in bed and I am tired so will sign off for this long day…can’t wait to see what lies ahead…

 

“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest! Days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.” JM (1911)

**(See Entry #2 on the right nav bar under Hiking)

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