Hey, Greenlight here!
Coming off of two section hikes of the AT inside of a week, it took some “gettin’ used to” being back in relatively flat Indiana. Aaron and I continue our weekendly expeditions over at Free Range Hiking and he is closing in on halfway toward his goal of fulfilling 40 hikes this year. My daughter-in-law Britni also joined us. She’s been hiking with Aaron for several weeks now and hopefully will continue!
On Sunday, we hiked about seven miles of the Depauw Nature Park, which is managed by the university of the same name. They advertise “well maintained trails.” I give them that. If by “well maintained” you mean “covered with gravel.” I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m just saying that my boots like mud. And rocks. And roots. And steep hills and inclement weather like rain and snow and heat and humidity. And, well, I’m just weird that way, but HYOH, right?
I did a light shakedown and resupply the night before and hiked with a lighter pack than I what I have been training with, but I make it a point to hike with my full pack as much as possible because I’m training for that glorious AT thru-hike somewhere in the not to distant future.
We had fun at DePauw Nature Park. You will too, if you go. There are some camping spots off the creekside rail trail. I haven’t completely figured out what their trail designations mean, but since they consist of interconnected loops, you’ll find the campsites eventually if you keep hiking.
The best part of this hike for me was when we came to the end of a loop and followed a trail that dead-ended at what appeared to be a service road. That led to the cryptic “Prindle Institute.” I joked that maybe it was a driving school. You’ll either get it or you wont. That emptied out onto an asphalt road on the edge of Greencastle, but there was another gravel service road that looked like it ducked back in to the woods. I was using GaiaGPS and the map showed that if we kept walking in that direction we would intersect the first trail we took from the trail head.
That led us back to a utility cut that with a steep and overgrown descent into a creek, and back up onto the trail near the trailhead. I was sorry to be back on well maintained gravel paths, but all in all it was fun. And we were only halfway through hiking.
Back near the trail head, we decided to hike along the abandoned quarry site, past a retreat
center shaped much like Washington Monument on the Maryland AT at the top of Monument Knob. I’d hiked past that on my way back to Indiana from DC a couple weeks ago and hadn’t gotten to climb the spiral staircase because the monument had been struck by lightning and was engineer taped and closed for repairs. This DePauw retreat center also had a spiral staircase so I ran to the top and enjoyed the view for a few moments.
The bluffs of the quarry presented picturesque views of the lake below, and geese were bellowing and the males were showing off to the females. It is that time of year, you know. It began to mist a bit during the last hour of our hike, and we stopped about a mile from the trailhead to drink some water and snack on the food we’d brought. I pulled my JetBoil out and had a steaming cup instant coffee, some Skittles, and a foil packet of Mango Habanero Salmon.
Back at Aaron’s house, I played with the dogs for a bit, Aaron and I drank some Dragonfly IPA from Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington and laughed over YouTube videos. They still had to drive a couple of hours to meet up with one of Aaron’s high school buddies in Marion, so I pointed the hood ornament east and headed back to the house for a shower, dinner, and some DVR’d COPS episodes.
Not a bad day, hiker trash, not bad at all. Head on over to freerangehiking.com and join us for an upcoming hike!