|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 over...it 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|