I got started shortly after 6am from parking lot 14 on the Lone Star Hiking Trail. This is just barely west of mile marker 91 (The LSHT is numbered west to east.. but some “miles” are plus or minus distance).
The night before I had driven from Fort Worth, down to Huntsville and scouted trailheads. I have a way to tow one vehicle behind the other, and this lets me do my own shuttle. I camped in the back of the Tahoe at lot 14 and set my alarm for 530. I got up and got going right as the light was good enough to walk without a flashlight.
In less than two miles I came across a group of scouts camping along the trail. I greeted the silver haired lady trying to wake the kids and passed on through their camp as they were camped on each side of the trail.
I hiked the first couple hours in silence, admiring the view of the sun rising over the trees. I started seeing some water in low spots at about 4 miles. After I had hiked a little less than 7 miles I got some food out of my pack and walked a little slower as I ate. I stowed my food and got out my headphones to listen to an audiobook. Leaving one earbud out so I could hear the nature around me.
A couple who hiked the CTD trail had the mantra “10 by ten, 20 by two” (as in miles and hours) anything after that was gravy. I had 12 miles by 10am. 5 hours in I had 16 miles and came across the Double Lake Recreation area. A campground built by the CCC in the 1930’s. my guidebook had indicated vending machines. There were no vending machines. And right as I had my mouth set for a soda. I filled my water from the tap and asked a guy running on a golf cart about vending machines. I was told they were taken away during a change.
With an unsatisfied thirst I headed on.. I noticed several day hikers near the campground and once I got out of their range I stopped in the shade by the trail and took my socks off to air my feet as I ate. The asics trail runners I am wearing are not as breathable as my normal new balance trail runners, and the dew on the grass wasn’t drying from them. I had a tiny bit of cell signal and texted and made phone calls as I ate.
Food on my stomach and a bit of Gatorade endurance perked me up and I headed on down the trail. Before too long I came to the San Jacinto river.. the bridge has been out since a flood in 2005. I worked my way across it on logs and headed on up the trail.
Where I ran into a man coming my way with a hand cart, two posts, posthole digger, and a backpack 3 times as big as mine. He was headed down to put sign posts at the river crossing. He told me of things the forest service forced the volunteer trail maintainers to do. Now they aren’t allowed to run a chain saw without 3 people in a party. They aren’t allowed to clip with rose sheer type one handed clippers.. while alone. After some amusing stories and my complementing him on his excellent trail maintenance I headed on my way.
I hiked closer to water this time.. going past bits of the river. I’m hiking along listening to my audiobook.. when I feel a THUD on the front brim of my hat.. and off it falls a three foot snake. It was quite he start as it lands in front of my against my shoes. But I noticed immediately it wasn’t poisonous and it slithered off. The tree overhanging the trail had been a great place for it to lay in wait for prey.. but I was a little bigger than he planned. Since he was a flying snake, I named him Lucifer and pressed on.
Shortly after this I come to the 24-25 mile mark in my day.. and reach the longest road walk on the LSHT.. almost 5 miles of hot unshaded road. And I just finished my last sip of water.. rather than going back down the hill to the river.. I head out.. knowing the Suzuki I had left with water was less than 5 miles away. My feet.. good all day.. were burning with little blisters within a couple of miles on the blacktop. I stopped and taped my feet up and pressed on. Noticing little mud puddles of water I could filter if I had to. A little white church and a helicopter broke the scenery. The heat of the road walk off the blacktop sucked the energy out of me. I pressed on and made it the the gravel road section leading up to LSHT parking lot 9 in the woods. As I hiked up the road many of the locals were nice to slow down as not to dust me as they went by.
(Sucking the last drops out)
I reached the Suzuki well before 5pm, drank some water. 29 miles today. I stopped by a convenience store on my way to the Tahoe and got two Powerades and a snickers. I was hooked up and headed into Cleveland by 530. I’m currently eating at Agave Mexican Restaurant and a stop for a milkshake at Dairy Queen may be next.