Sleeps With Skunks and I headed to Mammoth Cave National Park on Saturday, November 22 for a three-day weekend.
We mixed things up a bit, since SWS was going to hike while I rode the available trails in the Mammoth Cave backcountry.
We each made our final preps at Maple Springs Trailhead.
It was here that I realized that in the freezing conditions, my rear brake had frozen shut on my tire. I had to completely disconnect the rear brake and ride on the front only.
I rode off 1.1 miles down Buffalo Trail, then headed south .6 miles on Turnhole Bend Trail to its intersection with Sal Hollow Trail.
I dropped the paniers and my daypack and headed back up the Buffalo Trail. SWS was changing out her essentials into her tiny Flash Pack. I then shuttled her large pack to the intersection with Sal Hollow Trail. SWS continued on Buffalo Trail 2.8 miles to Sal Hollow Campsite. I rode back and cached all our camp gear near the intersection and proceeded the 4 miles by bike to Sal Hollow Campsite along the bumpy single-track Sal Hollow Trail.
The trail was in much better shape than most single-track in the park (no horses), but it was still challenging with many rocks hidden beneath fallen leaves. I walked more than I liked, arriving at Sal Hollow about the same time as SWS. We enjoyed a quick, chilly lunch at Sal Hollow Campsite.
From there, I rode back on Sal Hollow Trail, recovered by gear, and rode on the 1.3 miles to Turnhole Bend Campsite. It was thankfully level riding after the difficulty I had on Sal Hollow Trail. The panniers were challenging enough. I arrived at the camp in time to have our hammock camp set up by the time SWS arrived.
She set to gathering firewood while I made the 1/2-mile bushwhack to the Green River for water. Nine years ago, there was a solid trail all the way to the river. (I know because I hiked it). But now, it was a bit of a trudge. Once there, I had to walk a bit to find enough of a landing that I could get down to the water. The walk back was even more tiring.
Once back in camp, we cooked dinner, and SWS entertained herself with maintaining a fire I started. It was nice to warm up a bit before turning in.
The night-time low hit 22, but we slept warm and contented in our hammocks with both underquilts and pads.
The next morning, we packed and headed out. We both took the 3-mile route out, straight up Turnhole Bend Trail andd out on Buffalo Trail. SWS got a good 20-minute head start while I finished packing up. But on my bike I was able to pass her fairly quickly. I arrived back at the truck, loaded my gear and walked back to meet her maybe a quarter mile from the trailhead.
It was a pleasant walk together the last few hundred yards.