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A mild winter does not make one immune to cabin fever. There’s a time sitting at a desk, smelling office air it is much harder knowing if you did actually go outside, you would not need three layers, a toboggan, and mittens.

Jobs can make you feel like the kid peeking over the windowsill watching his friends play. It had been July since I used a vacation day. Since I vow each year to take a hike every month, we were down to the final day of January and the temperature approached an April average. Time to call in sick.

First I broke protocol and did not leave my wife a detailed plan of where I was going and when I would be back.  She wants to know where to find the body for insurance purposes. I didn’t know where I was going other than outside.

Apparently I am not an original thinker. I expected to step boldly into the wild where no foot had trod in some time. Instead, cars filled every level spot and turnaround in Cold Hill like it was the East 80 Yard Sale. I didn’t find relief until I reached the gate blocking the road at the back of Cane Creek Wildlife Management Area.

I knew the Sheltowee Trace crossed the road just beyond the gate. The Sheltowee Trace is a 282-mile trail through the Daniel Boone National Forest. The sections I have hiked include some of the most remote and picturesque sites in Kentucky.

Again this was not the plan, so I did not have the basics every hiker should have, such as food, matches, and toilet paper. I did find a warm bottle of water and a knife. I left the squirrel gun in the truck, but filled my pockets with anything else someone might rouge. This included an empty wallet, a cell phone with no signal, and three McDonald’s napkin just in case.

It seems all trails start downhill.

Oddly there were no signs of wildlife other than the sound of a deer bounding away and the remains of a turkey. There were no parts of the turkey other than feathers, which were laid out almost proper like a game rooster got into a tussle with a fine Derby hat.

I reached bottom and the trail began to wiggle along the banks of Cane Creek. It’s a great time to hike because there are no leaves to block your view and streams are running full. The phone turned out to be handy for taking photos of the many waterfalls.

I’m guessing over two miles into the hike a lodge tent had been erected on a ridge just before you get to Vanhook Falls. It looked large enough for a safari. Surely it had been driven to this site from some secret road or packed on the back of a horse. It could have been someone looking for elusive creatures like Bigfoot or Herman Cain.

I spent a couple of hours and a couple of miles with no further sign of civilization. The hike out is never as easy as the hike in. And after the trip I felt refreshed. It was just what the doctor ordered, so I might be able to make it back to work tomorrow.

mhoward@sentinel-echo.com

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