Sleeps With Skunks and I decided to enjoy a short overnighter at Mammoth Cave NP after heading to my cousin's birthday party in Cave City.
After getting up at my sister's place, we enjoyed a nice breakfast at Cracker Barrel, then headed into the park. We grabbed our permit, then headed to First Creek trailhead. I dropped Sleeps With Skunks and our packs there, then I drove the 3 1/2 miles down to Temple Hill trailhead. From there, I rode my mountain bike back to First Creek trailhead, stashed the bike, rucked up, and headed out.
The trail quickly joined an old roadbed.
We made excellent time, but then we begin to hit several areas where the many horses that have become so popular due to commercial operations have churned the trail to pieces.
Despite the damage, the trail itself was bone-dry, so mud was not a problem, though the host of softball-sized holes could easily make for ankle turns.
We cruised past Second Creek Campsite and encountered more horse damage, but the relatively level terrain still made for an easy walk. We arrived in camp around 2:30.
Sleeps with Skunks was excited to finally have the chance to try out her new REI Quarter Dome T1 solo tent.
While I find it awfully narrow, she loved how it was just wide enough for her Big Agnes aircore pad, and how it kept her from sliding off during the night.
I gathered water, no small feat since the lake was very low, with muck all the way to the shallow edge. I found a good water hole near where First Creek entered the lake however, and drew from a decent pool. My Steripen prefilter, combined with pumping the prefiltered water from a Dromlite bag with my Katadyn Vario proved a decent system for the warm water.
We enjoyed a late lunch, then we hiked the 1.3 mile loop around the lake. Along the way, SWS wrenched her knee in more horse-damaged trail. However, she seemed OK once we returned to camp and wrapped it.
She relaxed and read, while some Ibuprofen kicked in. I prepped dinner while she pondered my hammock.
She is a stomach sleeper, so she has always flatly refused to consider a hammock, but after pulling off a number of ticks from the both of us, she conceded it seemed like a pretty good idea.
We settled in after dinner and read. And I read and read and read. Jan Liteshoe's The Ordinary Adventurer, the story of her 2002 Long Trail thru-hike, kept me occupied for hours. Combined with the loudest cacophany I've ever heard of bullfrogs, coyotes, and beavers taking down small trees, I was up until a bit after 1 AM. Just after 3 AM, I woke to lightning and thunder. The storm rolled to within a half mile of us, but rain was fairly light all things considered. I kept checking in on SWS, and while she does not care for lightning, she was OK in her own little tent.
The next morning, we chose to sleep in past our alarms. I arose around 10 AM to a happy dry camp.
Sleeps With Skunks finally got out about a half-hour later, very content with how dry she stayed in her new home.
We packed and headed out the 1.2 miles to my truck. Her sore knee slowed her some, but she headed the switchbacks to the ridgeline well.
Along the way, we ran into another teacher from my school in Nashville. We chatted a bit, then SWS and I headed to my truck to grab my bike and journey home.