Jojo was in Terre Haute this weekend, so I decided to ride back to the Morgan Monroe forest, where the last time I had found my way along the Tulip Trace trail from Forest Rd. to Bear Wallow Hill Rd. I went through Cascades park and north on Old 37 to Anderson Road, then past the retired landfill and on to Bean Blossom Road. There is a great stand of cattails along Anderson Road, all parts of the plant are edible and nutritious. But these should be left alone, as they filter the leachate from the landfill, and must be full of heavy metals and other toxic compounds. The normally green farm fields in valley were untilled and brown, victims of the recent floods.
This 2 mile long blacktop rises from the Bean Blossom valley at 610 feet amsl, to end at Forest Road at 924 feet, all through uninhabited forest valley and ridge. Forest Road then goes north 1.5 miles to the ranger station, where to my surprise, the water which I needed was under boil order. So I started rationing what I had left, knowing that I would be in Needmore in a couple of hours.
I went to the Tuplip Trace trailhead, and rode east, it is gravel all along the ridge, with a couple of houses near Low Gap Rd. I then took the rutted dirt road up the ridge east and through the dense forest. I met two sets of hiker/campers on this part of the trail, and they all wanted to know if they were on the right path, and how far it was to the trailhead at Forest Road. I guess I looked like a local. Fact was, I was able to tell them how far they had to go, what the landmarks were, and even how high they had to climb from the gap to the ridge (about 80 feet). (Of course I’d been here earlier this year, and combed the area with Google Earth.)
The trail here is an old gravel road, but this eventually disappears as the trail turns south along the Possom Trot Ridge, which I hope to explore this year. I turned north along the main ridge, following a series of meadows which eventually connect to Bear Wallow Hill Road. I was able to remember where the track was from early spring, but the grasses had grown chest high, and no vehicle had been here for months. For some reason, I got no chiggers from the tall grass (or ticks in the forest), I guess I was traveling too fast for them to jump on!
Last time I got confused and rode north into Morgan county on Bear Wallow Hill Road, but this time I headed south on Bear Creek and rode the gravel road along the ridge before coming down to Bear Lake. I had heard this was a good spot to take a swim, but it was really muddy brown, and there were some fishermen there, it just did not look inviting.
So, I passed the lake and stopped at the bridge over Bear Creek. The water was cool and refreshing, and I found a painted turtle just hanging out on the bedrock under under the crystal clear water.
Total miles: 42, but it felt like more! I was fine after climbing Bean Blossom hill even though it was hot, but riding on gravel, dirt and grass requires more effort and time, and without water, I got dehydrated.
Nature notes: Painted turtle in Bear Creek. Daisies, chicory, and wild mint are fully in bloom, and all the spring flowers are gone.