Hiker Challenge Section 5 – Day 2: ATV Trails

Waking Up and Heading Out

The trail today was a challenging mix of ATV trails over 15 miles. I spent a lot of time dodging around mud holes on wide ATV trails. Many parts of the Sheltowee are multi-use trails, and I am now getting into a lot of the ATV section. As I travel further south, the trail will be shared use with horses. On the positive side, the weather cooperated again and it was another beautiful day!

I slept decently the previous night. I had one good stretch for about 5-hours, and then several tossing and turning stretches. I couldn’t seem to get as comfortable as I wanted, probably because it was a little colder than I anticipated. I expected the temperatures to only be in the 50’s, so I took my warm-weather sleeping bag, which is considerably lighter than my Nemo Disco 15. I slept in my long-sleeved base layer but didn’t need to use my puffy jacket. It was a bit chilly through the night, and someone said the temperature was in the low 40s at one point.

I had set my alarm for 6 AM but ended up sleeping until 6:30. I ate some oatmeal for breakfast and was packed up and on the trail by 7:20. As has been the case so far, I was one of the last ones out of camp. I don’t feel like I am leaving late, but most people are certainly leaving a lot earlier than I am! The deciding factor for me is hiking in the dark, which I do not want to do, so I always wait until I know it is going to be light before I start.

The trail was easy to hike right after camp, and although it climbed in elevation, it was a gentle and steady climb so it was easy to hike. I soon caught up with several groups that I would leapfrog throughout the day. After the trail climbed out of the valley it parallelled a gravel forest service road for several miles and continued to be an easy hike over rolling hills.

All hikers must stop before crossing

Finding Rest and Trail Magic

The trail then went downhill and the recent rains made the trail seem like the middle of a stream. It wasn’t too bad, but more annoying to hike around to make sure I didn’t slip or get too muddy. At the bottom of the climb, there was another water crossing and shortly after that a small daycare center that was the perfect place to rest.

All of the groups that I had passed by caught up to me and they all stopped to rest at the daycare. I took my time here resting and letting my feet air and dry out. There is a soda machine at this daycare, and a fellow hiker was kind enough to purchase drinks for several of us. Thanks, Troy! During the next mile, which was a road walk, I had a good conversation about sun hoodies, shorts, and leggings with a fellow hiker. And at the end of the road walk, another hiker who had already finished for the day was there with a Gatorade! Two trail magic experiences in a mile stretch was refreshing!

A welcome resting spot

After another stream crossing, it was time to tackle Mount ATV! This climb was brutal and seemed to just keep going, and going, and going. I rested at the top and finished the rest of the trail with most of the same group that I hiked with last month. The trail then was a series of small ups and downs, followed by a short gravel forest service road, before climbing back down an ATV trail into a valley. This was where the ATV trail abuse really showed and we had to constantly navigate around ruts, mud, and a slippery trail. One of the group fell and all of us slipped and almost fell at one point.

I was deep in conversation with another hiker, a few dozen yards ahead of the other guys and we completely missed a turn. Luckily it was in an open area and they were able to call to us from the turn and we quickly caught back up to them.

At this point, the trail had one more big climb for us, but it was on a narrower single track. It was a little technical around rocks and roots, but the most memorable part of it was just the climb itself, and knowing that at the top was the shuttle. I was out in front, determined to tackle the hill. I don’t know if it was me pushing the other guys, or if they were pushing me, but we made short work of the hill. Every time I stopped and looked back, they were right there with me. We did have a few dirt bike riders pass us at this point, and one of them fell off their bikes. He didn’t appear to be too injured though!

The shuttle was there waiting for us when we reached the top and we all relaxed on the short 20-minute ride back to our cars. The cool breeze from open windows was extremely refreshing!


I always like to have a post-hike meal, but I wasn’t feeling it on this day. We were close to a small town that had a Dairy Queen, but I didn’t think about that until I was 15 minutes in the other direction! Coming home on the interstate from the South, I have a few options on how I get back to my house and I fully intended to take one way, but missed the exit. I could have taken another exit, but that would have made me backtrack a little. And so I took the exit that would take me through downtown. Going this way isn’t that big of a deal, unless of course there is something happening downtown. I didn’t fully keep up with the news, so I was unaware that a press conference was happening at Rupp Arena to introduce the new University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach! Once I made it downtown, traffic was at a standstill and it took me 15 minutes to get through three stop lights and go about 3 blocks.

Once I finally got home, I picked up pizza for the family and enjoyed the weather eating outside while my daughter played. I considered mowing the lawn but decided to put that off until the next day.

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