Hiker Challenge Section 5 – Day 1: The Woods Awaken!

A week of rain

Section 5 of the Hiker Challenge covered 29 miles, going from mile 117 to mile 146. On Saturday, I went 14 miles, camping at a local camp location called Turkey Foot at mile 131. Finally, Mother Nature cooperated and this weekend was absolutely beautiful! It had rained the week leading up to the hike, and I feared the trails would be a muddy mess, but they were not. Instead, it was sunshine and happiness all weekend long!

No third shuttle was offered this time, but I still took the late shuttle and had to be at the shuttle location by 8:30 AM. The pickup point was still only an hour and a half from my house, so I did my normal routine in the morning and left around 6:30. My drive was mostly interstate, and then a two-lane road that was curvier than I expected. The pickup location was a little hard to find on the map, as it was not marked appropriately. I had looked it up previously on Google Maps, so I knew the entrance was not exactly where it was marked, but I still drove past it! The shuttle was a little late, but we arrived at the trailhead and were hiking by 9:45.

This section was back into the woods finally, with only 1.5 miles of road walking. The trail started down a gravel driveway before turning off into the woods. Immediately, we were greeted with a very, very sketchy bridge to cross. Since it had recently rained, the already dilapidated bridge was a little more treacherous due to slick boards. Everyone made it across though without incident!

A very treacherous crossing!

Waterfalls Everywhere

The trail then followed along a creek bed for the next mile, weaving back and forth several times. The first crossing was…fun, and several hikers looked for creative ways to get across without getting their feet wet. I knew that today would be constant creek crossings and I gave in and just trudged through the creek. This decision helped over the next several miles as I didn’t have to be too picky when crossing the creek numerous times. After a mile, the trail climbed up to the top of the ridge before dipping back down and following along the creek again.

It rained a lot the previous week and the woods were filled with waterfalls everywhere! I made short work of this section, and was surprised that it was 5 miles! After a short road walk, the trail climbed up a muddy ATV trail before returning to a single track in the woods. I stopped to take a snack break at this point, as I was feeling a little tired.

Surrounded by Nature

The next 7 miles were some of the most remote on the entire Sheltowee Trace! The trail followed along a creek but was made to traverse along the middle of the ridge. There were constant little dips down into valleys to cross small tributaries to the larger creek and then climbs back up to the middle of the ridge. I made it another 5 miles but decided to stop for lunch short of my intended destination. These 7 miles are some of the best on the trail, and I was completely remote and had the sound of the rushing creek and wind in the trees as the perfect soundtrack.

After a restful 30 minutes, I continued on for another 3 miles before arriving at one of the best camping spots on the Sheltowee – Resurgence Cave. The creek I had been following finally cut in front of me, so I had to cross it here. After doing so, I rested for another 30 minutes just enjoying the area before heading out.

I gave some thought to camping here for the night, and I probably would have if I were not writing this right now. This is an awesome campsite, sitting right on the creek with an adventurous cave nearby. There are plenty of tent and hammock spots, and I believe the Challenge has camped here in the past. In the end, I decided to trudge on to the official camp spot for this section. It was an easy 2-mile hike to that spot – Turkey Foot, and I made it there a little before 5.

Resurgence Cave. Enter at your own risk!

The War Fork Creek crossing


Relaxing at Camp

I set up my tent, rested for a bit, and then meandered over to the firepit. A good crowd had convened around the area, and although we didn’t start a fire, we hung out for a few hours, enjoying each other’s company. On Section 3, I came across a man hiking with his dog and I remember wondering at the time how many extra miles the dog does. That dog was constantly running forward 40-50 yards and then running back to his owner. Rinse and repeat for several miles. Well, he was hiking this weekend, and one of the other hikers talked with him about his dog. He has a GPS tracker on the dog, and a radio device so that if the dog ever got too far ahead, he can call him back. They had gone about 7 miles on the trail at that point, and the man said that his dog had gone about 13 miles!

I hung out around the firepit for about 2 hours and turned into my tent around 7:30. I read for another 30-45 minutes and then was asleep! That same creek ran alongside the camp and made for the perfect soundtrack through the night.

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