by Llew Williams, President, Warrior Trail Association
Last month's work hike was a tough but fulfilling one. I've always said that backpacking or hiking is a combination of spiritual journey and athletic event; an opportunity to commune with nature while testing your strength. This hike was more athletic than I planned.
Dave Keller and Mickey Tinker showed up at Moninger so we drove over to WV to drop off Dave's car above Cameron and then back to Slonaker cemetery to start our hike.
It was hot. I've always enjoyed this section of trail. It had been 3 years since I had been on it and I was wondering what kind of gas well drilling activities were going on. We found plenty. One section had a new access road on it and the trail markings were completely gone. We had to figure out where we were and then remark. In another spot, the contractors had replaced a mile marker, painted some blazes and put up an international hiking trail sign. Then we got closer to Tunnel Hill above Cameron. The trail completely disappeared. I didn't see anything that looked familiar. The last time I was there a long hay field with an old decaying barn lay before me and the trail wound past the barn to the far side of the field. The hill top had been flattened and the hay field and barn had been replaced by 2 huge freshwater gas well drilling impoundment reservoirs, complete with rubber linings, high security fences and access roads.
I would have been totally lost but I recognized a distant farm house. We marked along the access road. I will need to update the map. Then we got back in the woods on the other side of 250. That's when I realized that I had made a wrong turn when we placed Dave's car and we were going to be doing more than five miles over a couple of the steepest hills on the entire trail instead of the four miles that I planned.
We were running low on energy and water when we crested the next to the last hill and saw landowner, Jerry Shepherd, working in her yard below us with a couple of deer and a turkey munching corn at her side. She saved us from dehydration with several glasses of ice water. What at relief. I always enjoy talking to her. Her place is threatened by subsidence and drilling on all sides.
I apologized to Dave and Mickey for bringing them on a "death march" instead of a hike. We got back to Dave's car around 5 PM, hot and exhausted.