Natchez Trace Tour Day #10
Collinwood TN to Duck River (Shady Grove) TN
Today: 60.9 miles Cumulative this tour: 591.7 miles
We listened to lonely dogs most of the night, most of them distant except for Fido, who was corralled in a nearby yard. Ar-Ar-Ar all night long. With my earplugs it wasn’t really so bad, but why do people like yappy dogs so much?
I got up early around 5:40am , and then packed up early. By 7AM, Jack and I were both over at Chad’s. Cheese omelet for Jack and a chicken and ham omelet for me. Too bad they were out of grits. A fellow named Garrison came over to talk with us, who we learned was the server’s grandson. Got to love life in a small town – everyone is related or knows each other.
Off to Handy Mart for drinks, then to the Piggly-Wiggly for more serious snacks like Pop-Tarts and Fritos.
Jack and I must have really found the rhythm of riding the Trace, because I think we stopped at every single historical stop we crossed today. Sweetwater Branch, Glenrock Branch, Dogwood Mudhole, Laurel Hill Lake.
One sign led us to an original unpaved piece of the Trace that snaked about 2 miles through the woods. Lucky our touring bikes could handle it, because we enjoyed the change of pace. It sort of gave us a feeling of the original Trace, what it must have been like rolling or hiking along these dirt paths.
A bit further north really tested our legs, dropping and then climbing quite steeply away from the Buffalo River.
Lunch at the Meriwether Lewis monument. Of Lewis & Clark fame, I learned that Mr. Lewis led an interesting multi-faceted life, but died at the young age of 35, either by murder or suicide. The monument itself is a broken monolith, a symbol of his life cut short. There is a cabin where Mr. Lewis stayed. It’s a tranquil wooded place where we enjoyed a long lunch.
Back on the Trace, we continued to stop at every historical site. At one, we met a couple from St Francesville LA touring the Trace on a very cool Honda motorcycle. The bike, which seated them both, was tricked out with intercom communications and helmet stereo music – looks like something Linda and I might try someday.
This couple had somehow run into Rodney a day or two ago, so the four of us spent some minutes enjoying a hearty laugh at poor Rodney’s expense (see NT07: Tupelo MS for a little more about Rodney). The terms “panhandler” and “kook” were utilized.
Continuing northeast, we ran into continued hills but nothing too strenuous. We stopped at a Trace site called Jackson Falls, and made the hike down several hundred feet to the falls itself. Only a trickle was flowing there but we enjoyed the side trip.
With recognition, we passed mile marker 408, realizing that it was our final mile marker on the Trace. A bit further we exited onto SR50 and located a bicycle-only campground. The grounds themselves were located inside a corralled horse staging area, one used by dude ranches or tour groups or something. Not quite an ideal campsite, so we decided to roll into the little dot on the map called Duck River to see if provisions and/or lodging were available. There were a couple of steep hills involved with zero shoulder.
We found a tiny store and no lodging, and so decided to grab dinner fixins and return to the campsite to tent. It became apparent that this store was a sort of central hub in a pretty depressed area of Tennessee. A few prominent signs:
“Do not steal from this store.”
“Charges not accepted.”
“If you do not understand the word NO, just ask one of us.”
Nevertheless, we both scored decent hamburgers with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, chips and soda, except Jack omitted the burger part of course.
Up and over the steep hills again back to our campsite. We set up and decided it really was a pretty nice campsite afterall. Enjoyed dinner, and those burgers were decent.
The prospect of riding back west along SR50 tomorrow has me a little concerned. The few miles we covered on it this evening were noticeably lousy (no shoulder and truck traffic). I’ll be glad when we get through with the SR50 and SR100 portions of ride tomorrow. Jack copes with this kind of thing better than me.
All in all, a very good cycling day today. Good-bye to the Natchez Trace. I lost my reading glasses today and I now lay in my tent jotting down notes practically blind, wondering if I’ll be able to read them later.