Monday, November 7, 2011

Montgomery Bell Trail

For our hike today we went back to Montgomery Bell State Park to do the other half of the 12-mile figure eight Montgomery Bell Trail.  We had done half of this loop several weeks ago.  Today, Herb went with us and we had a great hike.

From our campground on the north side of town, Montgomery Bell is about 50 miles away.  We stopped in Bellevue, about halfway, to pick up Herb.  I know this may come as a surprise, but these guys started talking “gear” before they even said “Hello”.  It was like show and tell right in the parking lot at Staples.

The first piece was an antique Primus stove Herb dug out of his gear closet which dates back to his hiking days when he was in collage.  Gene is obsessed with camping stoves, so he was like a little kid in a candy store.  Even I’ll have to admit the stove had a certain amount of appeal.  The stove, including the can, weighs 19 oz, far too heavy for today’s lightweight backpackers.  It uses white gas or Coleman fuel and will burn about 50 minutes on a “tank” full of fuel.  That might be enough for a weekend trip, but for a longer hike, more fuel would be needed.  The rubber gaskets are probably all dried up and it’s probably dirty on the inside, but from the outside it looked great.  Okay, that was fun.

The next show and tell item was Herb’s new day pack.  He was sporting the latest and greatest lightweight pack from REI--Flash 18.  This little sac has a capacity of 18 L (1100 cu in) and only weighs 10 oz.  It’s tiny, but where do you put all your stuff.  Herb says I carry too much stuff, anyway.

We finally got on our way and were hiking by 9 AM.  We started our hike near the front entrance to the park and hiked in a clockwise direction.  The first section is along an old roadbed and is my least favorite part of the trail.  It’s wide, but very rocky with lots of ruts.  With the leaves covering the trail, it was very difficult to see the rocks and roots in this area.  Past this half mile section, we were on the more comfortable dirt trail.

The first half of our hike had several creek crossings.  Today, they were no problem; easy crossings usually on exposed rocks.  However, I have been on this trail in the spring after a heavy rain and these small creeks can present a real challenge getting to the other side.

We followed the trail across the streams and through the woods for a couple miles before coming to another long stretch where the trail follows an old road bed.  This section is about a mile in length with the park boundary and train track on one side and the park golf course on the other.

It was along this stretch that we stopped for a “coffee break”.

Although the temperatures were warm today, Gene had brought along his stove (a pepsi can alcohol stove with the Trangia pot support and pot, and an aluminum foil windscreen) so he could fix us a hot beverage.  I had hot chocolate, he had coffee, and Herb chose to drink cold water.  That may have been the better choice on this warm day.
Herb just loves his new baby

The trail which creates the figure eight is the Creech Hollow Trail which follows along the bank of Creech Hollow Lake.  The park road is very close to this lake and we often see fishermen on the bank, but not today.

Just before the end of our loop, the trail drops down by way of steps into what appears to be a sink hole.   It’s a hole, but one created by the mining of iron ore during the early 1800s when this was a major iron furnace owned by Montgomery Bell.  It is said that some of Andrew Jackson’s cannon balls were made from iron ore mined at this furnace.  There are several ore pits in the park as well as cemeteries containing the graves of many of the iron workers.

It was a beautiful day to be outside and we especially enjoyed sharing it with our friend Herb.  Glad he brought his old stove for show and tell and I’ve got that little pack on my mind.  I might could do without some of my stuff, after all.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.


  1. I would like to clarify that I am not stove obsessed. But I am stove envolved.

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