Three days backpacking in Hercules Glades. Once again I went backpacking with Ginger, and once again we each went our own way. Ginger to ‘Wahoo Point’ to do some business thinking, and I went to ‘Deep Hollow’ to stare at the trees.
There must be over 100 mini Snickers bars there. I won’t be taking any on our next trip. It will be too hot, and melted Snickers are very messy. I know, I’ve tried.
We are heading out for a three-day, two-night trip. I’m either going to hike to ‘Deep Hollow,’ or I may drop Ginger off at the Hercules Glades Tower Trailhead and drive over to Piney Creek for a couple of days by the lake.
Ginger won’t visit my Piney Creek campsite while the trail is overgrown. I totally get that, I hate fighting through the nasty snakey vegetation too. So, there’s a very good chance it will be both of us camping at Hercules Glades (again).
The weather’s cooled off enough for us to get out for some backpacking. It’s just going to be a repeat of our recent visits to Hercules Glades. I was wondering how much water we might find, and Ginger was confident we’d have plenty because of some recent heavy rain. Checking out the creeks we drove past and over on the way here, it was hit and miss, but most had some water in them, which was hopeful.
I was expecting the trailhead to be busy, but I was wrong. There was just one other vehicle there, and no one camping.
Back at the Pole Hollow Trail junction
I was last here in May. This time, instead of spending one-night camping with Ginger, I left Ginger at the Pees Hollow Trail junction (she declined my offer to immortalize the moment with a picture), and she set off to spend some time business planning at her ‘Wahoo Point’ campsite, and I carried straight on down the Pilot (Tower) Trail.
I’m heading the six miles to ‘Deep Hollow‘ for some quiet time of my own, and to collect some trash I accidentally left on my last visit. it’s going to be a hot hike — high eighties. Today’s the hottest day of the trip. The rest of the daytime temps are set to be in the low to mid-eighties. There is also the potential for some rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, so I want to get a move on and get camp set up before any bad weather rolls in.
‘Twin Falls Creek’ marks the halfway point of the hike to ‘Deep Hollow’ on the western edge of the wilderness, and it’s where I often stop for a break and to replenish my water. The creek wasn’t running, and the pools had mostly dried up, so I decided not to refill my water — there’s a spring nearby, but I didn’t fancy spending a load of time bushwhacking down to it — so I rationed my 1 liter of water, using most of it to heat noodles for lunch.
I get my noodles from the Asian store, and I’m impressed with how good they are. There is no comparison to generic Pot Noodles. They are also very salty, a good thing when you are hiking in hot weather.
Lunch is over, and I’m ready for the trail. Apparently, I am making looking disheveled an artform. My belt should be above my pack’s hip belt buckle, and I ought to have noticed that I’ve also caught my shirt on the hip belt. I guess it is just as well I didn’t meet a single soul on the entire three-day trip.
Re-visiting the scenic overlook
An hour later, and I was past Lower Pilot Knob. I decided to take a couple of minutes to leave the trail and check out the overlook again. It was worth the detour.
I took a quick detour to check out the scenic overlook. It was looking a lot greener than when I was last here in April.
Day One continued
On arriving, the first thing I did was to get my chair set up, have a rest and then venture down into the hollow to see if I could find any water. It was touch and go. The springs had dried up and I had to take water from a small pool. Looking closely, there was a trickle running, just enough to disturb the surface in some tiny puddles. I had been looking forward to another bath in the bathing pool, but it was dry. Instead, I took a ‘one-scoop bath.’ A scoop of water, around 12oz, into which I dipped my microfiber towel and used it as a flannel.
I had a church with technical problems which I needed to monitor. Knowing this part of the wilderness has good cell phone reception was another reason why I decided to camp here. When I got back to camp I checked my email for problems and discovered that Ginger had accidentally emailed me earlier in the afternoon instead of directly messaging my InReach satellite communicator. It wasn’t good news. She’d got two liters of water from a pool and that was it. The spring near her was dry too. I told her I hadn’t set up camp yet, and asked if she wanted to bale out on the trip.
I didn’t get an answer, and it was starting to get dark so I set up camp. We could sort things out in the morning.
After dinner I spent some time staring at the dark and listening to the coyotes. After a while I retired to the hammock and watched a couple of YouTube Videos (another advantage of having good cell coverage).
There had been lightning flashes and lots of rumbles to the west and north all evening. When I finally turned in the odds were it was going to be a restless and stormy night.
Sometime around two, a big storm hit, with lots of thunder, lightning, and torrential rain. I was nice and cozy. With the tarp in porch mode, the damp was misting in, but I couldn’t be bothered to drag myself out to snug it down.
The morning was pretty wet, It didn’t stop raining until around eight, and it took ages for the trees to shake all the water off. I had breakfast out of the rain and drips under the tarp, and went back to sleep until gone eleven. It wasn’t until around noon that everything had dried enough for me to venture out. Ginger messaged me first thing, and told me she had managed to collect water from the rain, so we were set to stay until Monday as planned. After that, I sat around, did a little tiny bit of journalling, and mainly just looked at the trees. It was very humid! I didn’t hold out much hope of there being any running water in ‘Deep Hollow Creek’ but at least my little pool should have been replenished.
My earlier guess that the overnight rain would not do anything to get the creek running proved to be correct. Here you can see my water filter at work, filtering water from the small pool I found. This is the view looking down the hollow, and the bathing pool is on the other side of the drop-off. The bathing pool was still completely dry, much to my disappointment.
All the very green grass indicates that the seeps are still releasing some water, but not a lot.
Not a lot of water. The main spring comes out from under the grass middle right of the frame. There was nothing running now though. I was glad to find the small pool that I did.
There’s a huge catchment area for this spring so I was surprised to see that it had stopped running. This suggests that my plan ‘B’ to camp in ‘Spring Hollow‘ would not have put me near to water either — though there is a very tannin-rich stock pond nearby.
Yup, just my chair, my hammock, and a load of trees.
(We’ll not mention all the ticks and chiggers).
I lent Ginger my summer tarp. Because of the rain in the forecast, she wanted some shelter to sit outside away from her tent, and still be dry. This meant I was using my bigger (and heavier) winter tarp which has a lot more pieces of string attached to it.
There are a total of 14 tie-outs on this tarp, and I’ll often use them all. By doubling up the lines running to some of the stakes I can manage with six to eight stakes. 14 would probably create a major trip hazard for me.
All the tie-out lines are reflective and at night they light up like a proverbial Christmas tree when a light shines on them. Excellent for helping me see them and not fall over them, but not so good if you want to be stealthy — as I found out once when camped near Table Rock Lake. My camp was raked by a searchlight after the reflective line on my food bag hanging in a tree caught some illicit hunters’ spotlight. At least they didn’t mistake me for some wildlife and take a potshot at my camp.
I suspect that this picture could almost, in the vernacular, be referred to as ‘hammock porn.’
When I first saw the Alien Gear ShapeShift holster system, I thought it would be great for backpacking. Unfortunately, Alien Gear does not produce a holster for my Beretta, so I parked that idea.
When I bought my Sig Sauer P938, I checked the Alien Gear website and was very pleased to find they made a holster for it. The complete ShapeShift system included a holster mount that with a slight modification fitted on my backpack’s hip belt, and the same holster mount would transfer to my pants belt when I wasn’t wearing my pack. Additionally, in the package, there was a desk/dashboard mount that I adapted for use on my hammock ridge line, which is what you can see here. I made a small wooden block that screws to the mount and grips the ridge line. It works perfectly.
I also discovered that I could modify an existing holster for my Beretta to take the Alien Gear mount. So now I’m free to carry whichever gun I want without changing the hardware that’s attached to me or my gear. I’ve also realized that with a little bit of engineering I can use the same mount for my camera. Because of the way the mount works, that might work a lot better than my Peak Design Camera clip when I’m carrying bigger lenses. I’m going to have to give it a try.
What can I say? It works really well. I like it and I love the patina it is developing with use.
I must leave it behind and give my titanium wood stove another runout. I’ve only used the titanium stove once. It’s about time I gave it another chance. It weighs a fraction of the weight of the Stainless Steel Firebox Nano and packs up smaller too. I suspect it’s that old function vs form thing raising its head again.
Using our InReach Mini satellite communicators I let Ginger know I was planning to be back at the trailhead at 2:30, p.m. That gives me three and a half hours to cover the six and a half miles and allows time for me to stop for lunch at ‘Twin Falls Creek.’
I arrived back at the trailhead at 2:20 p.m. Not bad.
Before I left I had to grab the ‘trash’ I left the last time I camped here, back in May. I was a mile or so down the trail when I realized I hadn’t grabbed the line I use to hang my backpack up. It stands out fairly well in this picture, but when you are doing a quick visual check of the site it is easy to miss another bit of green. I’ve made a new line out of fluorescent yellow reflective line. That will be much harder to miss and leave behind.
I had also left a used teabag sitting on a rock. They are supposed to be biodegradable, but I don’t like leaving any trash behind. I put it in my trash bag.
I really must stop taking these lazy selfies. I have a tripod, I could take pictures of myself doing things. It seems I’ve not been bothered of late.
Nearly noon and here I am heading east on the Pilot (Tower) Trail. In two-and-a-half hours I need to be back at the trailhead to meet up with Ginger.
Fortunately, unlike on my last hike here, my heart wasn’t in AFIB. I’d been taking extra care to avoid that; drinking lots and trying to keep cool. I even packed out an additional liter of water so I’d have extra on the trail. I’ve hiked these trails a lot of times now. That meant I had a pretty good idea of how much time I needed, though I’d left a little later than I’d planned (surprise!). I keep a trail journal, so I can tell you the following.
About five minutes after taking this picture I was at the Devil’s Den West trail Junction. by 12:22 p.m. I was at ‘Twin Falls Creek, where I stopped for lunch for 25 minutes. At 1:12 p.m. I was at the Cedars (Middle) Trail Junction, and at 1:55 p.m. I’d made it back to the (in)famous Pole (Pete) Hollow Trail junction. Which had me nicely lined up for a 2:30 finish.
The last section of the trail going east is comprised of four climbs, and in the heat, I felt it. I regularly stopped to give my heart a chance to slow down (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), and still surprised myself by arriving at 2:20 p.m. beating Ginger to the car. Knowing that she had a tougher climb, I got the car and more importantly, the AC going ready for her arrival. She arrived just after 2:30 p.m., hike over.
According to the GPS, this trip was slightly shorter at 6.2 miles each way. My average moving speed is 2.4 miles per hour. And average speed overall varied between 1.6 and 1.8 mph. Not bad considering I stopped for lunch on both hikes.
- Once again I chose not to take Deet or a bug repellent, and I deeply regretted it. The ticks and chiggers were fearsome and plentiful. I counted 30 bites (and then gave up) on part of one of my legs alone. I really ought to have learned this lesson by now.
- I had good (work) reasons for wanting to be where I had Internet access and cell coverage. But, I need to learn to keep my phone in airplane mode when I am out. Watching YouTube in the wilderness does not give me the break I want (or need) away from digital life
- I need to revisit my reasons for not taking my camera on these trips. Or I need to use my cellphone camera more deliberately. However, its failure to capture the sunset was most annoying.
- All the gear worked well, I’ve no complaints there.
- Foodwise, M&Ms provide trail chocolate, and don’t melt in the heat. Result! I liked my new trail mix, and that will be replacing my almonds and raisins.
- Three days is not enough. I need more time in the woods to just sit, think, and journal.