Jun 20, 2020My hike didn’t go quite as planned

Hog Trap – Day One, Hercules Glades, Pees Hollow Trail. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Not that the fact that my hike didn’t go to plan had anything to do with this hog trap I found. I noticed a fairly well-worn spur trail and decided to check it out. It appears it must have been a feral hog trail, as this contraption was set up across it. I presume it’s sitting here so the hogs can get used to it before they bait it. I couldn’t see any obvious trigger mechanism, and I didn’t want to hang around in case my scent put the hogs off of using the trail. Hogs do a lot of damage, and anything that can be done to get rid of them is fine in my book. It used to be that you were free to shoot them on sight. Now they prefer that you report sightings so they can set traps to catch and kill an entire herd.

Back to my hike. About 90 minutes in I got to the trail junction where Ginger and Katie took a wrong turn a few years ago. My plan was to take the wrong turn and see where it headed. I wanted to get down to the edge of the wilderness. To do that, I needed to ignore the arrow which someone thoughtfully added to the trail blaze to make the trail obvious (that would be me — vandal that I am), and go right.

At the trail junction – Official trail to the left and unexplored territory to the right – Day One, Hercules Glades, Pees Hollow Trail. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

And here’s a selfie featuring my new hat. Which deliberately looks well-worn and abused. Finding a good hat is remarkably hard. I didn’t want to end up looking pretentious (heaven forbid), or potentially worse, like I was some wannabe weekend warrior:

  1. Cowboy
  2. Indiana Jones
  3. Crocodile Dundee

I’m not sure my selection succeeded. But it’s comfy, keeps the sun off, and doesn’t look too stupid on me.

At the trail junction – Time to explore the unofficial trail that tees off from here – Day One, Hercules Glades, Pees Hollow Trail. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Setting off down the unofficial trail I could see from the tracks that there had been some fairly recent horse and foot traffic on the trail, but it was still quite overgrown in places. It didn’t take too long to get down to the creek, and once there I could see that the trail crossed the creek and headed, who knows where? I say that because my plan was to go down the creek and find a spot to stop. There was a problem though. I was expecting there to be water in the creek. There was none. The creek was full of rocks and brush, but no water. When the creek was running the water had obviously pushed all the brush over so it was bent downstream. I immediately realized that going downstream was going to be a lot easier than heading back upstream, but that’s fine. I wanted to head downstream to the wilderness boundary anyway. It was tough going, the brush was dense and my progress slow, especially as I was trying to keep an eye out for snakes and other nasties. Checking where I was, the topography, and the state of the brush, I began to think that the chances of finding somewhere to camp for the night in this area were pretty limited. One thing I have learned about the creeks here, however, is that even if you acn’t see the water, it is probably still there, just underground. So I kept on going hoping to find a usable pool when the water eventually re-emerged.

After a while, I did find a pool, so I went up the bank to scout for a campsite, and work out if I wanted to carry on towards the wilderness boundary. That was when I spotted the bunker. It was concrete, appeared to have a slab stone roof, and a pair of buttresses bracketing the doorway. The doorway was big, so I approached it carefully, as who knows who might live in a place like this? And I didn’t want to accidentally corner some critter inside. I was mulling getting my headlamp out of my pack when I obviously disturbed something that sounded particularly pissed with me. Actually it sounded hissed with me. It was like a long release of compressed air or steam. My first guess was that it was a possum. I peered around but couldn’t see the source of the sound which seemed to be coming from the bunker. Well, if the bunker was occupied I didn’t want to upset the occupant any more than necessary, so I slowly backed off. I wasn’t going to turn my back on whatever it was, because it really wasn’t sounding like the possums I’ve heard. Of more concern was that I wasn’t quite sure where exactly whatever I annoyed was. Backing away wasn’t easy in the dense brush which was full of cat briars. I stopped a few yards away and shot some video to hopefully capture the noise so I could get a second opinion as to what it was. Unfortunately, you can’t hear the hissing in the video over the birdsong.

So, what next? The brush was getting denser, and the chances of finding a good place to make camp seemed to be diminishing, so I decided to hike back up the creek. I was sure there was water in the creek, so the chances were good I’d find in on the surface above where I’d joined it. Bushwhacking back against the lie of the brush was hard, but I got there and was eventually rewarded by some big pools of moving water. Scouting around for a campsite I found a nearby trail that had some fairly fresh bootprints too. Scouting further afield I realized I was close to the confluence of ‘Cab Creek’ and Brushy Creek. Time to stop and regroup. It was four p.m. I was expecting rain sometime around five p.m. I decided that rather than waste time looking for a campsite, I might just as well return to the main Pees Hollow Trail, and camp at one of my preferred spots by Cab Creek. And that’s what I ended up doing.

Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

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