Natchez Trace Tour Day #8
Tupelo MS to Tishominogo State Park MS
Today: 45.1 miles Cumulative this tour: 473.0 miles
It did get fairly cool last night but I had trouble getting a good temperature balance. Fully in the sleeping bag too warm. Partially out too cold. About 3AM I tugged on my base layer shirt and walked out into the woods for a nature break. I left it on for the rest of the night and that worked out great, with my legs only in the sleeping bag. Oh, the trivial little things we figure out.
I must mention the very nice stars last night, too, despite limited viewing through the tree cover.
Jack and I emerged by 7:45AM. Wisconsin had already left. Holy Man had tuned to a religious station on an AM radio, and was now chanting Scriptures, seated in the middle of his Hilton-like tent.
We proceeded up the Trace 4 or 5 miles, and then another 2 miles west to the little berg called Saltillo. There we found the perfect place for breakfast at Bonnie’s Tiger Pride Café (the Tiger is the Saltillo High School mascot). The place is also home to the “Saltillo Men’s Club,” as proclaimed above a large table at the front. There sat 4 senior guys talking local man-gossip as we ate.
Both the café proprietor and one of the old guys eventually came over to investigate us. They both decided that we were going the wrong way on the Trace (north and uphill).
We rolled across the street to the Food Giant. There would be no more stores today, so at a minimum we needed to address lunch, dinner, and tomorrow’s breakfast. We stocked up: snack mix, pop tarts, canned coffee, granola bars, Gatorade, Pepsis. Additionally, we were still carrying tortilla wraps, PB&J, and Fritos.
They were right about the hills. Today’s ride had probably twice the uphill sections compared to downhill. Add in a N-wind, albeit moderate. Seemed we almost fought our way down the hills too.
Jack and I stopped at nearly every Trace historical site. At one, we met a couple who were supporting several cyclists north of us headed south, and so we learned the cyclists’ names. Imagine their surprise when we passed them a few minutes later, calling out “Hi Lilly!” or “How’s it going Don!”
Quite a few unloaded cyclists passed us heading south today, maybe 30 in all. Some of them even had personal sag vehicles only a hundred yards behind them.
After 38 miles or so, we decided not to head SE to Dennis – we had plenty of provisions – and instead headed on into camp. Approaching SR25 we encountered a brutal uphill. For the very first time this trip, I used my granny chainring. It would not be the last time by a long shot.
Jack and I considered heading further north to the Colbert Ferry Park on the Tennessee River, but we decided instead to camp at Tishomingo State Park. Forty-five miles was good enough for the day, and besides, we already planned to forego our rest day.
At the park entrance, the ranger was super cool. He seemed OK with us camping wherever we wanted and instructed us to stop by to pay in the morning. From the park entrance we went down and down and down. Uh-oh – that meant nothing but climbing tomorrow morning.
We picked out a primitive campsite near the bank of a lake called Rock Quarry Branch. From what we could tell, there were no other campers in the park. Water and AC power were readily available from nearby RV sites, useful for charging cell phones. Jack set up a clothes line, and the place felt like home <grin>.
Three was a large bath house nearby and I took advantage of the showers. I was actually impressed with the cleanliness and steady supply of hot water. The World Dryer in there was good for drying out clothes too.
My step sister and I had again been texting all day planning to meet for dinner here tonight, but unfortunately she ran into some personal emergencies and couldn’t make it. Instead, PB&J tortilla roll-ups were Jack’s idea for dinner – not bad at all. The rest of the early evening rolled out in a fabulous way, chatting with wives, viewing wildlife on the shoreline, listening to frogs and insects, strolling the beautiful lake.
We hit the tents by 7PM, figuring on a healthy day of riding tomorrow. We hoped the winds would subside because we knew the hills wouldn’t.