I’m on a roll, another long hike on the Wabash Trace in five days. I was going to go yesterday but things got in the way and I’m glad I didn’t as it was cold and rainy, even a little slushy snow. Not the best day for hiking. Today was better, clear and cold in the morning, cloudy and cold in the afternoon.
I did four different segments today. Starting from a few miles north of Shenandoah I walked down into Shenandoah and on a couple of streets, then through a park and then continued southwest well outside the town. I’d thought of taking a county road back into Shenandoah but walking a gravel road didn’t seem like run so I just retraced. However at the place where the trail started again in Shenandoah (near the cemetery) I turned south and then west into downtown instead of following the trail.
I wandered through the town (have been there before, once stranded there in winter seven years ago) and headed to The Depot, a microbrewery, bar and restaurant for a couple of bocks and a good Philly cheesesteak (lots of mushrooms and onions). I left The Depot and wandered back northeast to find the trail again from the west side. Having my track on my handheld GPSr made it fairly easy to get back to the trail, near the old railroad depot. The trail wanders through a park and then on a paved path (the only paved part so far) until crossing a river and it returns to crushed limestone.
I found a nice brochure about the Trace at The Depot which also had a drawing of it on one of their walls. I learned the Trace opened just a few years before I moved here and held the promise of bring lots of walkers through the various towns along the Trace and thus some business to local attractions. However, if you didn’t know The Depot was not directly on the Trace you’d probably miss it.
After that walk I went looking for the trailhead in Imogene, leaving only the towns of Coin and Bartlett to be explored. My total distance now is 23.6 miles (as far as the entire MoPac), but most of that is out-and-back so probably I’ve covered only about 13 miles of the entire 63 miles. Here’s my updated maps with just the segments I’ve done:
Now I need to explore the southern terminus and get a segment in Coin and I’ll be done with the entire extent, then leaving the connections between these segments. I’m dreaming of doing a two-day and much longer trip (comparable distances to the requirements of a long walk, like across Ireland or the Camino). Leaving Council Bluffs I believe there is a B&B in Malvern (found a brochure for it at The Depot), about 18 miles. Then the really long haul from Malvern to Shenandoah where I could spend the night or get my shuttle back. But that’s fairly ambitious (average 20 miles/day) when I’m somewhat sore, definitely a bit tired, from just 11.5 miles today. I know I could have pushed on for more today but it wouldn’t have been that much fun and who knows how my legs would feel.
Can I really do the daily distances required for any of the long multi-day walks? Who knows. The stories of many walkers imply they hadn’t done the kinds of distances (in training) they did on real trail (and a few of the stories are from people my age) but I’m actually walking longer distances, albeit easier (flat grade, light pack) than I ever did in my 20s and 30s backpacking. Is this just a dream I can do long walks?
Well, despite burning a quarter tank of gas to do this it will be hot soon so I hope to at least fill in some of the missing parts of the map before summer weather. Mineola (the little L shaped segment) to Malvern is long but probably doable, but I’d probably do that with a shuttle rather than an overnight in Malvern unless that B&B is really wonderful or fairly cheap. But it will be a while (I doubt this year) before I can show you a map of the entire trail.