Had to take the obligatory morning photo over the lake, but this campsite wasn’t the best for it. The forecast was for major storms to start at 1pm (they didn’t…), so I started early and was hiking by 7:10 and was thinking less than 6 hours to cover 14 miles was doable. A pretty fast uneventful hike to Caney Creek. I was expecting major mud from MM12-MM13 so was already planning to be knee-deep, and then finding the next pond to rinse. But the mud actually wasn’t that bad and a couple of short boardwalks were in place. Impressive bridge over the river. Saw some wild hog activity, which I’d seen at various points on the trail, but had not spotted any hogs yet (wait for it…). Love the random wild flowers. Blackberries starting but still young – I’d seen an earlier post of a ripe one and was hopeful, but I guess they were better foragers than I. This area had also had a controlled burn, but the path itself had been a firebreak which made it look very interesting. The erosion that the flooded streams cause is quite remarkable, just so much SAND…. And it gets everywhere . Passed the “10 mile mark.” I think I prefer counting down mile markers (i.e. heading west), as after the 10 mile mark I knew I was in single digits. Passing MM86 doesn’t quite have the same impact! After all, doesn’t it make more sense for mile markers to say how far you have left rather than how far you’ve come? Into the wilderness area which is a bit wilder which is fun, and that was where the rain started. Not the storm but it was still wet! The west side of this area is particularly wet and muddy too, but I plodded on and was happy to see the familiar pond at MM2.5 at about 12:50. Forecast still showed storms coming, so I rigged a shelter and decided I’d have my dinner for lunch – get the cooking out of the way. In the end, the storm did not materialize, but at least I’d practiced rigging a shelter with my groundsheet, though that needs some more research… Great water from this pond, though I did need to backflush. I think the water from Conroe is quite silty so tends to clog… You might be wondering why I didn’t just finish the trail. I’d allowed the time for contingencies and didn’t have to rush back, and really enjoyed this chill half-day just hanging out. Even into bed before sunset listening to the birds, and then the frog chorus at sunset. And then the frog chorus all night! Nice to sleep to.
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