So, we had good weigh-ins this morning and Linda's neck was feeling better. She was up for an easy hike.
Just to be safe, she didn't take a backpack and we loaded her necessities in mine. The goal was to take a walk along the river over to the North Bend Lake dam and the Jug Handle Recreation area. According to our trail map it was 1.2 miles.
Now, they have a nice little trail map that shows routes and also gives descriptions of each trail. And it tells how the trail is marked - what color "slashes" on the trees mark the trails.
Just before getting to the trailhead, behind the campground check-in station, Linda asked "What color slash are we looking for?" I looked at the map and replied "Green".
So, ten seconds later, what do we do? Yeah, that's right. We take a trail where we thought our trail started .... marked with blue and red slashes. In ten seconds we both forgot we were looking for green. :)
Hmm. Our easy trail sure climbed a lot more than we thought. Still, it wasn't until the blue trail separated and we were on the red trail, that we began to question ourselves.
I pulled out the map and looked again. "Well, we are sort of headed in the right direction, .... but we were supposed to be on the green trail."
Rather than walk back down and start over, we continued our hike to the road where we could walk the road to the other end of the green trail. It wasn't intentional, but we created our own loop. I prefer hikes that loop anyway. :)
We made it to the dam area and picked up the trail we were supposed to be on. So that's what a green slash looks like. :)
That trail was flat and went alongside the North Fork of the Hughes River, ...
past huge sycamore trees with their massive leaves scattered about ....
and right into the campground.
That route would have been quite a bit easier from the beginning. :)
Of course, I had to see where we went wrong. At the trailhead there is no trail sign, and you can't see any green slashes until you actually get on the trail, about 30 feet from where we started on the other trails. That didn't make me feel any better, but at least we had a nice hike and Linda's neck held up.
In fact, when I asked if she was up for another hike, she offered biking on the North Bend Rail Trail again. "Really? It's five miles to Ellenboro." She said, "Let's try it, we can always turn around".
We gathered up some snacks, water, money, and IDs and we were off. We went through Tunnel 13 and, shortly thereafter, we came to Tunnel 12.
That's a longer, darker tunnel and about half way through, you can't see the road. Linda didn't like that at all. :)
But we made it through. The next tunnel, Tunnel 10 (I don't know what happend to #11), looked a bit more rugged.
There was a sign saying "All riders walk through this tunnel". It wasn't that long, but I guessed it was a precaution to keep people from hitting recently fallen rocks inside.
The first part of the trip was pretty and interesting with the three tunnels, creeks alongside, and some rocky passages.
The only downside was that there had been a lot of recent horse traffic, and we were dodging manure quite a bit of the time. Since we removed the back fenders on our bikes, it was best we avoided the piles rather than .... well, you can guess. :)
The last mile and a half into Ellenboro wasn't nearly as scenic and it ran close to U.S. 50 so it wasn't as peaceful either. And the overall trip to Ellenboro seemed ever-so-slightly uphill, definitely noticeable on our cruisers.
Once we reached Ellenboro, we came to this bridge, ...
which is noted on the map as the steepest grade along the 72-mile trip. The gravel/sand was deep right at the beginning and we weren't going to make it up that hill anyway, so we walked.
We were a little disappointed that the trail didn't go right into town like it did in Cairo. We had a couple of gas stations, a McDonalds, and a Dairy Queen in sight, but we weren't really up for trying to find the quaint part of town. Plus, with it being Sunday, we didn't expect much to be open.
So, we rested, had our snacks and water, and took a picture of the Ellenboro trail marker.
The North Bend Rail Trail is part of the American Discovery Trail, a multi-use trail that runs cross country. That's why they show the distances to both oceans. :)
Then, we just made the return trip home. As we suspected, the trip back was a little easier and faster. But we still had to dodge the horse manure and the horse tracks in the trail made it bumpier than our ride the other day.
If you come to North Bend State Park and only have the time or desire for one bike ride on the Rail Trail, we'd recommend doing the three-mile trip to the west to Cairo. It's a little more scenic, a little more peaceful, and it takes you right into an interesting little town you can easily explore on foot.
Back at the rig, Linda prepared our firepit for a big Halloween night fire. I chopped some of our wood with the plan of burning all of it.
But before that, Linda made us a cheese tortellini soup for dinner. She also baked some whole wheat flatbread with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. She gets creative when we're watching our calories, and the diet ain't so bad. :)
Then it was time for our fire. It was the perfect night - just the right temperature, a clear, starry sky, and no wind. We both agreed it was the best dang fire we've ever built. :)
We're usually really stingy with the wood, but here, at $4 a wheelbarrow, we had us a heckuva Halloween bonfire. We sat out by the fire almost four hours just staring at the fire, adding wood, and watching and listening to the wildlife.
Our Pileated Woodpecker flew right by us and pecked on a tree about 20 feet in front of us. As the sun went down, deer walked through the woods on the other side of the river where they hung out for several minutes. Later in the evening, we heard noises in the water below us. With my headlamp, we saw it was three raccoons.
When we startled them, rather than running off, they swam off in the shallow river. We've seen lots of raccoons in campgrounds and elsewhere, but we don't get to see them swimming very often.
We made the most of our last day here at North Bend State Park. Tomorrow, we'll move on to another West Virginia location. We've got a couple of spots in mind, but we haven't decided yet. As is often the case, you'll know shortly after we know. :)