16.81 miles, 2.7mph avg moving, 2.0mph avg overall, 6h:07m moving, 2h:12m stopped, 8h:19m total time, max elevation 1880ft, total assent 3131ft, 186.26ft/mi. FLT M15
Total trail miles completed to-date: 324.2 (54.8%)
My second FLT hike of the season I hiked from Steam Mill Rd (M15) west to Logan Rd (M15) and back. I decided to take a day off of work and go hiking; the weekend weather and schedule didn’t work out. The day was very much a changeable day, when I woke up it was bright and sunny, while I was driving to the trailhead it clouded over only to clear up again once I got to there and parked. The rest of the day was the same, sunny and blue sky one minute and then cloudy the next. The temperature was nice, started out in the low 60s and rose into the mid 70s by the end of the day, although it did get a little humid as the day wore on.
I arrived at the trail a little before 9:30 a.m. and I started out leaving Steam Mill Rd and heading west on the trail. Shortly after crossing Newtown Rd (mile 0.8 – 10:01 am) the trail began a pretty good descent, over 500 ft in about 0.8 miles. After reaching the bottom of the descent the trail wound its way past a little pond and over some small foot bridges where the ground was marshy. The sky had clouded up again at this point and I pushed on to Texas Hollow Rd.
I crossed Texas Hollow Rd (mile 3.1 – 11:05 am) and started up a steep climb. The trail was narrow and the dry leaves made the footing tricky. The trail climbed over 300 feet in less than 1/2 a mile. After reaching the top of the climb the trail started another descent towards S. Hill Rd. Near S. Hill Rd it opened up into a field and presented a nice view and a good photo opportunity. I found some wild strawberries growing along the edges of the field, unfortunately they were not ripe yet.
I reached S. Hill Rd. (mile 4.6 – 11:48 am) and started the road-walk section of this hike, heading down S. Hill Rd. to Rt 79 and then onto Burnt Hill Rd. At the junction of Rt 79 and Burnt Hill Rd I saw an old barn that made for a good photo. Burnt Hill Rd started out as just a regular dirt road with some tar and oil put down in front of the houses to keep the dust down, but it soon turned into a seasonal use road and started to climb. I reached a small parking area and the trail turned off the road and back into the woods (mile 5.9 – 12:17 pm).
I continued on following the trail, it would cross over Burnt Hill Rd again further north. I passed through an old rock wall and stopped to take a few pictures. The trail started climbing again and I passed by the path to the Dunham lean-to (mile 6.75 – 12:44 pm) – I planned to stop there on my way back for lunch. I reached the north crossing of Burnt Hill Rd. (mile: 7.1 – 12:55 pm) and started heading down to Logan Rd. I noticed that there was a car parked at the small parking area near the crossing and I soon met the owners heading back from a short hike. They had a happy yellow lab with them who was also enjoying the hike; and she had found plenty of mud and water to play in too.
Soon after crossing Burnt Hill Rd I crossed over a nice wooden bridge and took a few photos. I passed by a small little pond/swamp and veered off the trail to take a few pictures of the moss-covered logs. The trail continued to descend to Logan Rd along a small creek. I finally reached Logan Rd. (mile: 8.3 – 1:24 pm), it was now nearly 1:30 p.m. and I had been hiking for about 4 hours. I took a short break and a few photos, including a sign with some info about the trail, before heading back up the trail.
It was about 1.5 miles back to Dunham lean-to. The hike was mainly uneventful, I did nearly step on a snake that had been resting on the trail; it was the third snake to scoot off the trail today.
I made it to Dunham lean-to (mile 9.7 – 2:35 pm) about an hour after starting back from Logan Rd. and gladly took my pack and my boots off. The sun had once again come out and I laid out my shirt (which was now quite damp as the humidity had come up) to dry. I enjoyed my PB&J sandwich and a couple of bottles of water. The shelter had a very nice fire ring with a movable grill. Nearby was probably the nicest outhouse I have seen on the FLT; it was large and had a ramp up to the door.
I started out again near 3 p.m., I still had about 6.5 miles to cover to get back to my car. I continued on down the trail to the road-walk section on Burnt Hill and S. Hill roads. As I was walking past the houses on Burnt Hill Rd (mile 11.0 – 3:23 pm) near Rt 79 I saw an old man out next to his lawn mower muttering. At first I thought he was talking to himself (which is perfectly fine – I had been talking to myself most of the day during the hike). Then I saw a dog next to him. He looked up to say hello to me and assured me that he wasn’t talking to himself, but to his dog.
I continue on and soon I am heading up S. Hill Rd to the field (mile 12.2 – 3:41 pm). I snap a couple of photos heading up S. Hill of an FLT sign and one of the field looking up the trail. Soon I find myself at the top of the steep climb from earlier, which is now a steep descent, near Texas Hollow Rd. I carefully pick my way down the narrow trail, only slipping once on the dry leaves.
I cross Texas Hollow Rd (mile 13.7 – 4:23 pm) and head on around the small pond. The sun is out now, when I passed by earlier it had been cloudy. The blue sky is reflected in the water and makes for a nice picture.
I keep moving on, I know I still have a steep climb to get back up to Newtown Rd ahead. I stop before I reach the climb to take a break and get some water and eat a banana and then I move on.
After reaching the top of the climb I breathe a sigh of relief; the hardest parts are now behind me and I have just a little over a mile to go. I note that my GPS shows nearly 3000 feet of climb now, that is one of the higher amounts I have encountered on the FLT. I cross Newtown Rd (mile 16.0 – 5:31 pm) and now I only have 0.8 miles to go!
As I typically do when I get close to the end I pull my GPS out and keep looking at the my location and the end point. I keep zooming in as I get closer; only 2000 feet to go, now 1000, almost there… I climb up to the road and see my car; such a great sight and a relief (mile 16.8 – 5:52 pm). I drop my pack and open the car to get my sandals out; my feet are ready to be out of my boots. After a change of clothes and putting my pack, boots, and walking stick away I am ready to head home. I drink some water and have a snack and start the car and head home. It is almost 6 p.m., I had hiked for over 8 hours.