So we got a bit behind in posting these in our excitement to get home and take showers. Here are the posts from the last three days of the trip!
We got started the morning of day six around 8 and stopped about 4 miles into our ride to check out a Confederate soldier grave site along the Old Trace. The site is up on a hill and has 13 tombstones for unknown Confederate soldiers who died in the civil war. The original tombstones had been replaced with marble ones and were really nice. They each had a confederate flag next to them and people had put flowers and coins on them as well. It was an interesting stop and I’m glad we didn’t skip it.
Our first 8 mile stop was at Twenty Mile Bottom overlook that was less than impressive, but we did find a couple of fire ant hills to mess with, carefully of course, which was entertaining. Another stop was at the Pharr Mounds, which are Native American burial sites. There were 4-5 mounds visible at that location and they were spread out across a wide grassy area that the park service allows to be cultivated for hay. Apparently, there are a lot more mounds and they cover an area of roughly 90 acres. Dayum! That was another interesting stop we’re glad we did.
We decided to stop for lunch at the Tombigee waterway. It’s basically a canal with locks that connects the Tombigbee River to the Tennessee River for shipping purposes. From the bridge you can see one of the locks, which is pretty cool. We said it looked like the doors to Mordor from Lord of the Rings. Lunch was couscous with green pepper and onion in tortillas. So much carbs. It was delicious and just what we needed to fuel the rest of our day.
Or so we thought. As we approached the Alabama state line we went through the Mississippi hills. And they kicked our butts. We struggled up several of them and felt like we just kept going up and up. The hills made for a very slow going afternoon and it was also really hot and humid, even though it was mostly overcast. We got very sticky going up those hills. We made it through them though and eventually made it to sweet home Alabama. There was so sign when we crossed the border, which was odd, so we checked the map to make sure we were headed in the right direction and we were. Yay!
The rest of the day was tough. We went through more hills and ended up having to walk up a few. We rolled into the place where we were going to camp with plenty of sunlight left. We were running low on water toward the end so the first thing we did was go straight into the bathroom to fill up. This was another place that had a bike-only campground and so far there hadn’t been any signs for them so we didn’t think to look for one. Ethan tried calling the National Park Service to see if they could direct us. His called was dropped the first time, then he got through to their answering service and was about to leave his number when the called dropped again. And then his phone had zero service. Ugh.
We decided we’d just have to look ourselves. There were two drives going down to the river that the park was on. One was pretty long and the other fairly short. We decided to head down the shorter one first to try and find the camp. We got to the end and had a pretty good view of the Tennessee River and the bridge over it. As we looked I noticed another park across the inlet. I could see a bathroom, grills and picnic tables. We thought maybe that’s where we were supposed to go. We got a little excited because we’d be right on the river and could maybe get in and wash our stickiness off. So we headed back to the entrance and down the longer road.
As we passed by the entrance, Ethan noticed a sign that had a bike and a tent on it pointing in the direction we were headed. We should have see. It when we pulled in but we were so determined to get water that we missed it. Doh! We kept going and about 200 yards in I noticed another sign it was hard to see what the sign was referring to, but back in the woods we noticed some fire pits and picnic tables. We found it!!! It wasn’t down by the river like we’d hoped, but we found out later that that was for the better.
We dropped off our stuff, set up our tent and headed down toward the river. We decided we’d check out how cold the water was and make dinner down there. The water was pretty freezing, but we stood in it up to our ankles and splashed water I our arms and legs and I used body wash to try and scrub off some of the sweat. Ethan ended up putting his head in the water, but I couldn’t do it.
I felt way better after my “bath” and got right to making dinner. We had noodles with green peppers and onions one with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. T’was yummy! After dinner we headed back up the road in the dark. As we were riding we heard rustling in the woods and noticed a couple deer. We shined our lights on them and they just stared. Then a all of a sudden there were like 25 pairs of eyes staring back at us. It was the creepiest thing ever. The whole rest of the way back we were just super creeped out and that’s why it was for the better that we didn’t camp down there. It was also a pretty big hill and about 3/4 of a mile long. When we got back we needed to charge our phones and had noticed an outlet up by the entrance at the bathrooms. We headed up there and had just plugged our stuff in when we hear thunder. Uht oh. We sat for a while hoping it would take some time to get to us, but then we started to feel rain. We could have stayed up under the building, but we were tired and didn’t know how long the rain would last. We headed back to the tent and went to bed. The storm never came.
A few hours into the night I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. Not even 5 minutes after I got back in the tent, it started pouring. And then we had to try and sleep through not one, but two, severe thunderstorms. It was crazy and we did not sleep well that night knowing our tent would be soaked in the morning. We weathered both storms though and while our tent was soaked in the morning we were dry and it had stopped raining.
Read on to hear about our longest day on the Trace!!