After resting up in Logan Ohio we headed out of town to Lake Logan but on the way there we passed the largest Washboard factory in the world to take a tour. It was quite fascinating how many different styles of washboards they have. They also have a washboard festival where many people come and play washboards as musical intruments. That must be a noisy good time! After leaving there we went to Wal-mart to stock up on food. We got way too many pounds of food because we knew we would not be coming to a town for several days. When Jeff and I checked out we went to the front of the store and sat on the bench trying to pack up all of our food we had just bought. While sitting there I had a song on my heart and if you know me, when I have a song on my heart I don't usually let it sit in my head, I sing it as loud as I can no matter where I am. The song I was singing for the welcome team of Wal-Mart was "Mighty to Save". For those that do not know it, it says, "Savior, he can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save, forever, author of salvation, He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave, Shine your light and let the whole world see, we're singing for the glory of the risen king!" I was really enjoying myelf while singing this song and I just lost myself in the entrance to Wal-Mart and began just singing to God. I felt his presence flood my being so much that I got a little teary eyed! Just a couple minutes later Eva came out of Wal-Mart with her cart full of things and she said, "So..... this guy just came up to me while I was checking out and asked if me if Jesus was my savior?" She told him no, and so he preceded to tell her about his savior and how he had blessed him. He told her if she shook his hand then she could recieve the holy spirit. She said she did not really have any words to respond with and she did not feel led to shake his hand. Well Jeff and I were just looking at her and thinking, "WOW!!"
So we packed up and headed down the road toward Lake Logan and we were not but a couple miles passed Wal-Mart and a car pulled off the road and a guy got out of the car and walked up to Jeff and said, "Are you Jeff?" Jeff was really dumbfounded and said yes of course, and the guy told him he was the coordinator for the Old Man's Cave section of the Buckeye Trail that we were on. He had been looking for us since the day before because Andrew, the guy from the Buckeye Trail office in Shawnee, told him we were headed his way. His name is Byron and we have seen him many times since then. He was quite a blessing to have on the trail. He was our tourguide for part of the section and gave us some tips on places to camp.
The campsite at Lake Logan had a broken game machine. The recording went all day and night saying: "50 cent play". I wanted to play the ukelele there to the rythm of this "50 cent play" robot voice, but didn't quite have time. It's funny to not have time when there's no schedule. I was probably reading the bible and taking notes. The ukelele is going back in the mail today! It will be missed. Some volunteer opportunities have come up with the American Discovery Trail Society, which answered my non-denominational prayer. I'll be doing simple tasks for them while on the trail. Really grateful for the structure this trail provides. And everyone who contributes to it.
Byron gave us a tour on the Emma (Grandma) Gatewood trail which goes through Old Man's Cave. Both of those names make you think of respecting elders! At age 67, Grandma Gatewood was the first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in one season--with a pillow case for a backpack and Keds tennis shoes. She did this two more times, walked across the United States (pre-ADT), and bought the first can of blue paint for the Buckeye Trail's blue blazes. What a cool lady. The "old man" of the cave was a recluse who lived there a few years. He befriended the Native Americans there. As Byron walked with us, he told all kinds of stories about trail maintenance, rescues in winter, environmentalists. There's a curved steel bridge that used to be straight. A flood, carying a large tree, rushed through and caused it to change shape. Byron really likes that story to show something simple like water can actually bend steel if there's enough force. The 3 miles he walked with us are on the maps as part of our route anyway. Those 3 miles were astounding--so beautiful--Byron wished he could see it through the eyes of some one new to the area. This walking trip continues to show us interesting things every day. It's hard to explain what it was like to walk the Emma Gatewood Trail, knowing we had gotten over to it walking, and not knowing where we'd sleep that night. You can see the wonders of national and state parks by taking a trip for that reason. We ended up at this one, not by accident exactly, but as part of our trip with no ending date. After rural roads and towpaths, here was this national treasure.
Ok, I think that enough time has gone by since we were at Lake Logan that I can now tell my mother this story. When we were camped out at Lake Logan we rode out a very intense, confirmed tornadic, thunderstorm in our tents. We had a guy come running over to our tent in the craziest downpour you could imagine, and told us at the top of his lungs that we better head for the bathrooms to be protected from the tornado. I had to poke my head out of my tent and ask him 4 times what he was saying because the rain was so loud. It was so loud inside the tent from the rain that Kristin and I had to basically yell at each other to have a conversation. This guy's poor little miniture poodle looked like something you would pull up out of your shower drain with a coat hanger! Pitiful. Anyway, we decided to wait and see what happened, and so Kristin and I just prayed and put our trust in the One who makes the tornados. Right after we prayed, it stopped raining cats and dogs and the sun started to peek out. It was awesome! Some accounts say that the tornado went right over us on the map, and some say that there wasn't one at all. Who knows, but we are pretty used to twisters, coming from Oklahoma and all! Ok mom you can breathe again.
Now, on to where Eva left off......Old Man's Cave was just beautiful. It is going to be hard to describe it in words because I don't have much time for typing and consulting the thesaurus. If you want to look at pictures of Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave, just do an image search on google. Your keywords will be "Hocking Hills State Park," or "Old Man's Cave Gorge." You should be able to find them from there. For those of you reading this that attended Kristin and I's hitchin' festival (wedding) at Robber's Cave State Park, it's kinda like that on steroids with lots of waterfalls!! Incredible. Byron had hooked us up at Hocking Hills S.P. with a free place to camp. Which is great because it was $20 for a tent site with no water, smelly pit toilets, and a half a mile walk in. We stayed in a campsite the first night, and then at the old abandoned outdoor chapel the second. What a great time. Oh and we finally got showers! It had been like a week. From there we hiked down the Grandma' Gatewood trail with Byron like Eva said. Byron left us when we reached Cedar Falls, but before he left he told me of a piece of property where we could camp for free in about 14 miles. When we got there it was all nice and mowed with a fire pit and no noises around except the natural things! It was so nice that we ended up staying 2 nights there too! Byron came down to visit us the first night and we made sure to leave the place nice and tidy with plent of fire wood already cut and laid out for the next people. We did have an interesting visitor pull up into this remote campsite to give us two warm bottles of water, which kinda put us on edge for a while, but again we just prayed for protection and a good nights rest. Which we got! Slept like a baby! So after camping there for 2 nights we headed back out on the road to get to Richmond Dale, OH where we are now. We were now going to be entering into the Scioto trail section of the Buckeye trail. That was of course after the Old Man's CAve section gave us swift kick in the rear on the way out. We got to the end of the Old Man's Cave section and had to tackle this insane jeep trail. It was straight up for what seemed like a mile or more and straight down the other side. The trail consisted of very large, very loose rocks thrown about in very loose, very dusty, very steep ruts. It was all garnished with a heavy sprinkling of very large, very round, very marble-like acorns!! We went from the beautiful scenic gorge with concrete stairs and people taking wedding pictures, to an insane iceskating rink for mountain billy goats!!! It was crazy! Thank you Old Man's Cave Section of the Buckeye Trail. I guess you had to get in the last laugh. Anyway, on the way to Richmond Dale we had to go through Tar Hollow State Forrest. When we reached the boundry for the state forrest it was getting late and we decided to guerilla camp behind the maintainece buildings for the park. We hung our food high up in the trees and camped close to the back of the buildings. It is getting dark earlier and being down in a holler behind a big building, it got dark fast! Just as I was starting to doze off I saw two large, dark, four-legged animals making their way across the grass infront of the tent. Keep in mind that we had stopped for pizza at a little gas station about 2 miles back and the man there showed us pictures of some very large black bears in the area. So this was weighing slightly on my mind. So when I saw these dark 4-legged creatures making their way infront of our tent my heart shifted into 5th gear! I watched them for a few seconds then rose up to shine the light on them. Before I could get the light turned on, they heard me and ran off. Then they proceeded to make the most distinctive sound that I am all too familiar with. They started to "blow" at us. It was a group of whitetail deer!! I chuckled at my paranoia, Kristin sighed a sigh of relief, and we drifted off to La-la-land. We woke up before sunrise as to avoid detection from any park employees and headed over to the trail. It was great! First thing in the morning we get to fight back the greenbriars going up a series of very steep switchbacks! That'll wake a person up in a hurry! So we fought our way through Tar Hollow State park and over to Pine Lake. We had to take off our packs and pass them through the tops of trees that had blown down several times. We negotiated washed out trail on the side of very tall and steep moutainsides. And worst of all, the weeds were 15 feet high in someplaces. I had to hack out the trail with my hiking poles just to find the next blue blaze!! Then half the time the blue blazes were just not there for a long time! Then as we made it to the top of the state park we encountered a fierce wind storm. Limbs and trees were being blown over everywhere and the leaves and trees that didn't fall were standing out sideways. So we came across a big shelter with picnic tables and a large fireplace. We decided to make camp there for fear of having a large tree end up in our tents in the middle of the night. We cooked an awesome meal from a can of beets, a can of sweet potatoes, a can of tuna, 2 rice sides, and some freeze dried veggies. We just threw it all in one pot and chowed down. After fighting back the forrest for a few days, that was the best meal we had ever tasted! Then at 2:00 in the morning some drunk locals rudely drove up past our tents and over to the pit toilets. They promptly got out and started removing the excess alcohol from their bodies. They stayed for about 20 minutes and then I guess they figured out that they wern't alone and drove off. That left all of us a little on edge and none of us got very much sleep. The next morning instead of fighting back the forrest and playing trail maintainers for the day again, we decided to walk the road that paralelled the trail. We went down it as far as we could until we had to jump back into the woods. We followed a well groomed horse trail for most of the day and then it came out into a clear cut logging area. It was great! They left all the trees standing that had the blue blazes marking the trail, but they had bulldozed all the tree tops over into the trail!! It was COMPLETELY IMPASSABLE! We had to climb up the side of the mountain walking ontop of the downfall and then scramble down the hillside through head high weeds and tree tops. It was pretty nasty. We eventually reached a road where we took a break. While sitting down on my backpack, I heard a car door slam pretty close to us down the road. Oh, I forgot to mention that we had run out of water early that morning back at the shelter. So we were hacking through the forrest on a very hot day with no water. OK so we made it down to where we had heard the car door and found a little trailer!
Jeff knocked on the door of the little trailor and a family answered the door and gave us some icecold water. They told us we could sit and relax for a while on their porch swing and their 4 year old stood on the porch talking to us. He came out and said "Jesus lives in heaven", I said "that's right, do you know where else he lives?" He said no, and I told him he lives in my heart. I said I had a song for him and sang some sunday school songs for him and then I began getting requests from the family for songs to sing. They even brought out a guitar and Jeff, Eva and I sang some spirituals and hymns. When we left their house we walked down Blue Lick Rd and before too long a man in overalls and a conductor's hat pulled up beside us and asked if we were following the blue blazes. We told him we sure were and he said he was Mr. Detty. Mr. Detty is on our map for being a good mail drop for through hikers so we were exited to see him. He asked if we were worn out and wanted a ride. He must have been reading our minds because that is exactly what we were hoping he would say! He said hop in and he would take us to Londonderry. I asked how far Richmond Dale was because Byron told us of some trail angels that lived there. He knew exactly who I was speaking of and he took us straight to their house. When we pulled up to their driveway I saw the ADT sign on the post beside the house. Then Mrs. Connie Snyder came out to see who was pulling into her driveway. Mr Detty told her he had picked up some hikers. We all got out to greet her and got our packs out of Mr. Detty's car and wished him farewell. She said she had been expecting us since yesterday. She also said she had just found out that there were 3 of us. She showed Jeff and I the hikers quarters which was in the basement. It was a nice bedroom with a full size bed and a cool shower she had rigged up just for stinky hikers!! She showed Eva to a cute little room upstairs. Then we all met and sat around and talked and got to know each other. She fixed us some yummy fruit salds and eggs with toast to tide us over for dinner. Her husband Mike came home shortly and we all sat around and talked about some of the other hikers that had been through. We decided to stay another night so we could all get the things done that we needed to get done. So now we are enjoying a nice relaxing day, typing the blog, and mailing things and such. Tonight we are going to Point Pleasant WV with the Snyder's to the place where they do square dancing. We are all really exited! I feel very fortunate to have met the Snyder's. Connie and I have sat around talking about many things. She is a very interesting woman, she used to be a Jehovah's witness and I did not know much about them until last night. I am always interested in hearing about other religions beliefs and views. Oh and she is also a fabulous cook. She made homemade pies and I tried Rubarb pie for the first time! Tomorrow we will be heading toward the Scioto Trail and Pike Lake and we have heard that there is more overgrown trail to come so until next time. I hope we all make it out alive and a little stronger!!