It’s been hard to write about attempting to thru-hike the Lone Star Trail. It was a good experience but every time I sit down to write about it, all I can think about is my cat. I don’t care about the miles. I don’t care about the weather. I don’t care about trees and bunnies. I don’t care about gear. For the first time in a long time, I don’t even care how much anything weighs.
I’m not indifferent. There were no spectacular views but it was beautiful. I just don’t care that it was beautiful. I will. Just not right now. Not today. There was a moment when I stopped hiking, stopped crunching leaves beneath my feet, stopped thumping trekking poles past tree roots, and looked straight up. There was a beautiful silence. There was myself and pines and a bright blue sky. I’d kill to live in that moment. Just not today. I mean, I’m fine, really. It’s just going to take a while.
Day 1: Trailhead #1 to Wilderness Hiker Camp (Miles 0-6.3)
I used the guide from the LSHT Club, a few notes I took from Karen Somer’s guidebook, and had the Maprika app as a backup on my phone. They were great for water sources, designated hunting season camps, and road walks. The trail is very well marked but the guides helped make it even easier.
My husband walked a few miles with me before taking a side trail to loop back to the car. The trail was wet but the weather was nice and not too cold yet. I made it a short day because I knew we wouldn’t get there until noon. I was a little worried when I got near the campsite because I wasn’t sure how well it’d be marked but there are little blue tent signs that are easy to find and follow. I had the site to myself and was surprised at how quiet it was. I never heard anything rustling or scurrying outside at night like I usually do. I don’t know if it was the cold, or that particular area, or the repeated gun blasts. I slept awful.
Day 2: Wilderness H.C. to Stubblefield Rec. Area (Miles 6.3-19.7)
More wet socks. Lots of nice mushrooms and lichen. Pretty pinks and oranges. While I was drying my tent in a patch of sun on my lunch break, I met a guy, Young Son, that hiked part of the A.T. with his dad. I don’t remember exactly, but I think he said his 73 year old father hiked 1,600 or 1,700 miles before plantar fasciitis took him off the trail. I hope I’m that awesome when I’m that age! I ran into hunters twice on the trail with guns pointed off the trail. It made me really uncomfortable. I knew they were out there but I guess I just thought they would be stealthier or something? The first guy waited for me to pass him up. A little awkward but not too bad. The second guy, when he heard me coming, swung his gun down as he turned, momentarily pointing it directly at me, and said, “Dang, you scared me!” … Seriously. I spent the rest of the afternoon convinced I was going to get shot in the face. That lasted until I got to the Lake Conroe area and watched two giant pine trees fall in front of me. Then I was sure I was going to get shot in the face juuuuust before being crushed by a falling tree. I hopped a golf cart ride with the park host at Stubblefield to the self pay station and felt a little better. I had a picnic table and fire ring. After I singed one of my socks that got a little too close to the fire, I used the hand dryer in the bathroom to dry everything else. I thought $15 was a little steep for a site without water or electricity but that hand dryer was well worth the money.
Day 3: Stubblefield to West Huntsville H.C. (Miles 19.7-28.8)
Dry feet all day but I did get a couple blisters on my feet. I’ve never had a blister on my foot before! I know what happened though. My SuperFeet insoles had developed a squeaky quacking noise and right before I left for this trip, I threw some high heel liners on them. They stopped the quacking but gave me blisters. I threw them out and the quacking is mysteriously gone. Maybe from being wet for a couple days? I forgot to turn my SPOT on for the first mile or so in the morning. Oops. It had been a cold night. High 20’s I think. Enough for frost. It was hard to make myself get going. I did an easy day and knitted most of the evening. The campsite was a little scary. It had warmed up enough in the afternoon that I flicked a couple ticks off my pants. There were tons of fallen trees and branches and I spent a long time trying to decide where to set up my tent so nothing fell on it and me. I joked to myself that I could just push down all the trees and then I wouldn’t have to worry. I pushed gently on a tree and it fell over. It wasn’t very Leave No Trace of me but it was supposed to be a joke! In my defense, it was already dead and it managed not to land on anything living. I slept with the awning up on my tent and it was a little creepy. I kept thinking something was going to run off with one of my shoes.
Day 4: W. Huntsville H.C. to Phelps H.C. (Miles 28.8-38.3)
Woke up with both shoes still under the awning. My dry feet streak was ruined by a walk across a spillway. It wasn’t deep and I guess I could’ve changed into my camp shoes but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I walked them dry, thankfully, on my way to get picked up by my in-laws. They brought me my resupply, lunch, and towels to take a shower at Huntsville State Park. They were excellent company and I felt great. I had been worrying about the San Jacinto River and they helped take my mind off it for a while. It had rained recently and there’s no bridge over the east fork anymore. It was supposed to rain again soon and I didn’t know how bad it would be. They dropped me off where they picked me up and I kept going.
Day 5: Phelps H.C. to East 4 Notch H.C. (Miles 38.3-51.3)
I celebrated with a Snickers at the halfway point. I was finishing every day with plenty of sunlight left so I decided I was going to try and knock out a 17-mile day the next day. It would put me right before the San Jacinto River in the morning and I could try to cross before the rain started. It would also put me ahead of schedule and I could be home Saturday instead of Sunday. I met a couple LSHT Club members who reinforced my plan. There was word that the river was already flooded from previous rain but that it was going down. They were really nice and one of them gave me her number and offered me a ride around if I ended up needing it. It was in the low 20’s and I was happy with my sleeping system. This was the first night I was actually cold but I draped my fleece around my hips and I was toasty again.
Day 6: E. 4 Notch H.C. to F.S. 202/207 Intersection (Miles 51.3-54.2)
For the first time all week I got packed and on the trail in less than an hour. I got to a fork in a road and wasn’t sure which way to go. There weren’t trail markers and it wasn’t clear from the guide. I turned my phone on to check out the Maprika app and saw there was a text and voice mail from my husband that my cat had died in the middle of the night. I’d spent 4 of the last 5 nights at empty campsites by myself. It hadn’t bothered me so far but I was tired and didn’t want to be alone anymore. My feet and heart were suddenly heavy so I left the trail at the F.S. 202/207 intersection and walked down 207 for 3.5 miles to a main road for my husband to come pick me up.
I didn’t complete the 96 miles like I wanted to but I learned what I wanted to learn. I didn’t use my soap or little dish brush/scraper the whole time. I am a bandana hoarder. Camp shoes are worth it at the end of the day. Without my husband around, I’m too lazy to make coffee in the morning. I like gaiters more than I thought I would. Sleeping with your phone when it’s cold really does help save the battery. I want to marry my Jetboil MiniMo and have its babies. There are about a dozen things I now love and hate about my gear and I’m soooo relieved not to worry anymore about what I’m taking on the A.T. I’ve made up my mind.
Here’s the few pictures I took. I didn’t take a lot. It’s not that I didn’t see anything worthy. I just missed the moment. I saw an incredible owl. It was so good at being an owl that I thought it was fake! Plus, there’s only so many pictures of trees you can take. ;)