Monday, May 26, 2014

From Nowhere to Somewhere

One of the many overgrown and dilapidated houses along Canetuck Rd

This was the kind of house that predominated my miles of walking the last couple of days...that is if I saw a house at all. For the most part it was thick pine woods of Loblolly and Long Leaf as well as Oak with the occasional mailbox I could see a mile ahead peeking out from the between the boughs. Once upon the mailbox, I'd see some suggestion of a driveway, really just a forest path, back to what I could only assume was a house. On numerous occasions, I knew for certain there was a house hidden away as 2, 3, 4, dogs would come barreling around the corner just after I passed the drive, barking and snarling to let me know to keep to my road. However, upon my turning around, the apparently odd looking creature I am with a hump back, big black bug-like eyes, and four-legged, the front two being spider-like, they usually retreated, of course turning and barking the whole way home.

These 40 miles of seemingly nowhere began after leaving Moore's Creek Battlefield where I spent the night with the ghosts of the Revolutionary War. No, no actual ghosts, but it was kinda neat to think about their being there. Leaving here I soon crossed the Black River...which while at the Battlefield I learned the reason for not only this river's color, but seemingly all the creeks and streams in the area. Tannins from the trees - yup filling a Nalgene full of this stuff is like drinking Tree Tea, folks!

The Black River

After crossing this river, it wasn't long before I came to Canetuck Road. I don't know what town I was in here...but I think somethin' cane tuck it...because it was the middle of nowhere. You know I thought I'd already been in the middle of nowhere. Nope. This was the middle of nowhere.

To my thrill, I thought I had come to a convenience store at the end of Canetuck Rd. where it changes names to Natmore Rd., but upon closer inspection saw that it had been reduced a storage shed for cobweb-covered junk...a hoarder's dream. It was all locked up with a note stuck on the door, yellowed with age that read I would like to buy most of the things in your store, please call me. I tried to sit down on an old metal lawn chair outside for a snack...but as soon as I got the wrapper off my granola bar, a dog chased me out of here too.

Not to fret, I would soon come to the little town of Kelly...they reportedly had a convenience store!

Along the way, I met this little guy...

The smallest lil turtle I have ever seen...I helped him gently off the road as I have seen too many of his kind smooshed on the asphault.

As soon as I strolled into town, a small truck pulled was none other than Richard, the man that had given me permission to camp at the Kelly Museum! Perfect timing. He began to introduce himself, and I was oh so happy to see him, knowing that I'd have a place secured for the night, but he could see my eyes wandering beyond him to the Kelly convenience store on the corner ahead. Finally I exclaimed, "Oh I've just sooo been looking forward to an ice cold cola the last 18 miles, do you mind if I just run up there?!"

"Oh, why, they are closed on Sunday!"

SO much for that. It doesn't take much to crush a tired hiker's hopes. But Richard quickly turned my night around, but granting me a night inside the museum. Here I had not only a kitchen and bathroom at my disposal but all the reading material and interesting exhibits I could want for entertainment. They even had a whole ol' fashioned writing room on display...thank goodness I don't have to lug this in my backpack...

The writer's companion from another era at the Kelly Museum in Kelly, NC

Thank you Richard for the wonderful accommodations!!

Leaving Kelly it was another 18 miles to the nearest town of White Lake. As I walked Rt 53, again bordered by only Pine and Oak and believe it or not, less houses than before, now only gameland, I had numerous motorists stop and offer me a ride...who seemed mighty perplexed when I turned them down. They drove away reluctantly, only confirming my suspicions that it would be a long time until I was indeed somewhere.

And suddenly I was somewhere...the Carolina Bays!!

Veering off Rt. 53, I finally got my feet back on trail, weaving by way through the Bay and Pine woods of Singletary State Park, home to Singletary Lake. I didn't see a single soul and so it was just me and this beautiful forest, through which I eventually hiked out to this lovely pier leading me out onto the lake. Walking down the pier, I marveled at the Pond Cypress (Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium) growing, their roots deep in the water, fragrant and adorned with hanging Spanish Moss (actually a lichen). An interesting note...experts really do not have a definite theory as to how these bays were formed. One theory is that they are the result of a spray of meteorites or the impact of a large comet. Another is that they are the result of simple upwellings of groundwater. I do like the exploding comet theory best. All in all, I decided a  swim in this giant comet puddle was definitely in order.

Check out those sweet hiker tan lines!

Eventually, my trail turned into wide sandy forest road walk as I made my way in Bladen State Forest...

The sand here at the bays is incredibly white and provides not only a home to the Scrub Oak and Pine, but to wildlife such as this Black Bear...

black bear print - one of many in the sandy trail in Bladen State Forest

After my swim and tracking the Black Bear it was another couple of miles into the town of White Lake...I expected a campground, maybe a convenience store...

The attractions of White Lake, NC

Oh White Lake has a convenience store, as well as a campground that spans 3/4 mile one direction and probably as far in another...and pizza and ice cream and lattes and well...even mini golf! Just a wee intense to this hiker who's been in the gen-u-ine middle of nowhere for the last two days...but also quite wonderful when it comes to that new addiction to ice cold cola...and I have this view from my the backdoor of my quaint motel room...

View from my lakeside room at the Melwood Motel
Stay tuned to for the next blog...with a showcase on Yucca!


  1. Heather, I noticed you made a comment earlier this year on PJ Wetzel's blog that Kate Dixon had sent you directions for the trail, but that those directions were W to E. I would love to get a copy of those, if I could. I have Scot Ward's guide, but would love to have any info I could get my sticky hands on! I'll be thru-hiking in late August or early Sept.
    Ok this thing has screwed up my log in and insists I'm "unknown", but I'll try and sign in again with a separate comment

    1. email me and I can forward you these directions- I believe what I have can also be found on the website. Have you talked to Kate Dixon or JoEllen Mason - both of them would be happy to get you whatever directions they have! Scot's book is great for the parts of the trail that are still in place from 2012, but there have been considerable additions as well as some reroutes - definitely want to make sure you have directions for these routes.

  2. we'll try this again and see how it works...