After a day of relaxing at Lago Linda Hideaway Jay and I were ready to continue our adventure once more. My father meet us that that morning to re-supply us and to take us another 10 miles North, saving us a great deal of pavement walking. We were to camp that night at in Whittleton Branch Campground at Natural Bridge State park. Jay did his best to show what a really good bed head looked like while he made his coffee that morning. Before leaving Dad and I went canoeing around the lake. After following Highway 52, and Little Sinking Creek, he dropped us off at the intersection of Highway 1036 and Big Bend Road, near the small community of Zachariah. Two Ale81 trucks, carrying a local drink made in Winchester, KY, were parked nearby our drop off point. At the beginning of Big Bend Road, just to the right, stood three large oil tanks that belonged to Sun Oil Company. We were entering an area with a high concentration of oil/gas wells.
Continuing down the road/trail I crossed an area of fragmented forest due to power lines and it appears that there is plenty of ATV traffic along these corridors. Oil pumps and Sun oil Company signs could be seen everywhere just off the trail. There was one pump in particular that got my attention. It was leaking on to the ground and downhill into a watershed. I am not sure if anyone knows about this but was sure to plot the coordinates of this well (-83.7011484, +37.7234965) on my GPS and take several photographs, ensuring that the pump information was included in the photograph. This type of experience and a couple of others made me realize the potential importance of the technology that I was using for documenting events on this hiking trip. Further down the road that doubled as the Sheltowee Trace I spotted more oil tanks and huge ruts in the road/trail. Water filled the bottom of the rut so it was hard to tell exactly how deep it went. Good thing I was not walking through this area at night!
Jay, his dog, and I were now entering the southern border of Natural Bridge state park and it was about this time we were informally introduced the deer fly. It seemed that no matter what we did, or how fast we hiked, we could not get rid of them. Bug spray was completely ineffective! Ironically enough, I later found out that movement, heat, CO2, and shiny smooth surfaces (my sweaty skin) are the things that attract them! By the time we reached Whites Branch Arch I had swatted over 76 deer flies. The arch, located underneath the trail itself and not obvious to the everyday hiker, was the only protection from the flies we could find due to the constant air movement that the breeze way offered. Whites Branch Arch is an excellent camping spot; however, I will note that there is a couple hundred drop-off on one side. If we did not have to meet anyone that day we could have stayed the night.
Jay’s cell phone was picking up some good signals we used it to call our friend Cary to let him know that it would be a couple hours before we got to Hemlock lodge, a place within the state park. Thinking that the deer flies may have moved on by now in search of more victims we ventured back on the trail to finish up the last leg of the trail for the day. They found us… and I think there was an unofficial race to Natural Bridge from there.
As soon as we reached the bridge and started down into the moist, cooler valley towards Hemlock Lodge the attacks ceased. Next time I am bringing a flame thrower or an invisible cloak. We meet up with Cary and I downloaded my valuable data.