Last week I drove an hour and forty minutes north to Troy, North Carolina, to reach Uwharrie National Forest. Along the way, all on back roads, I saw many old barns and houses I could have stopped to photograph. A friend had just hiked a portion of the Badin Lake Trail in the last week, and I was encouraged to also go there. I haven’t been hiking much lately, and I miss the outdoors.
I reached the park at 11:40 a.m. Going down the parking lot at King’s Mountain Pointe, I joined 94/ Badin Lake Trail and had an easy hike down to Cove Road where kayakers were landing and fishermen were planted in their chairs with their tackle. The path had many bumpy roots but also flatter areas. It was the nicest section of the trail and well marked with white paint spots on the trees. I did, however, get mixed up at Badin Lake Campground because the paint spots were farther away and not clearly seen. I had hiked up the wrong path and then had to ask for help from a group of campers taking apart a tent.
I went back down the path and looked much harder for the marks. I finally found them behind fir trees that were hiding those painted trees from view. I decided to continue on and finish the full loop as I had plenty of water and bananas to eat.
From the Cove Road ramp I walked up a flight of wood stairs back onto the gravel for a short walk uphill, then there was a loop of nice asphalt that I joined, and then I came to a split in the path and went to the right. For a short time, I was walking on asphalt then past picnic benches and across a road before the path changed back into gravel. From here on, there were more path markings, but as I walked farther into the woods, I used my downloaded map to approximate where I was and how much farther I had to walk. In this entire trail, I hardly had a data signal until around this wooded area where it would come and go.
After a while, on the left side of the path, there was a well-carved tree with love markings from many couples. I had to take a few pictures of them since it was rare to find such a thing. And again, after awhile going up hill and down the hill, to the right of the path there was a dry creek bed with blue porta-johns in a fenced-in area next to a trailer. The path followed the creek bed for a while and then I saw picnic tables in an open area. The path bent a tight left with the bed and two huge boulders sat there. Then the path took a steep climb, and it was there I was again confused at the top about which way to go because the path was not marked or trodden well. One path kept going straight up the hill whereas the path I needed to take went down into a yellow-lit area full of fallen leaves.
From that point on, the path winded down, left, and right through the woods and as I reached camping locations near the water’s edge where that dry bed turned into a small creek and eventually into Badin Lake, I saw loads of trash everywhere. Beer bottles, to-go boxes, shopping bags, aluminum foil, and more. It was just disgusting to look at what those irresponsible campers created. There were no trash bins in the area to put the trash in. And one big black trash bag seemed nailed to a tree with stench coming from within. I decided not to hike this section of the trail again.
In one open area I found an unattended fire roaring in a fire pit surrounded by large rocks so I used my small water bottle, which was empty already, to carry water four times from the lake up to the campfire and I doused it as much as I could. I even pulled apart the big log from the little logs to stop the fire. I tried my best to put it out. I wanted to get someone to report it because I thought they would have a better cellphone signal as I had none. I saw a boat with a family of three who were riding the waves and they had come to a stop in the cove to switch. I could not get them to notice me when I yelled for their attention from the bank. They had their music on too loud.
I passed a fisherman on the way but felt like I should leave him alone. I kept walking through all the trash up the path along the water’s edge. Something rustled to the left of the path when I was about four feet away, and a black king snake 2 ½ feet long quickly made a mad dash for the water. “Alright, I see you,” I said and kept walking.
Past all the open areas the dirt path led up the hill to the left and it was at this time that I stopped seeing white markers. The path was well trodden. I kept seeing more trash when the path opened up to areas overseeing the lake. And lots of trash in the water too. This part of the trail became more rocky. Because I had put my hands in the murky lake water, trying to put out the fire, I didn’t want to eat or drink anything else with my dirty hands. I wished that I had brought my hand sanitizer to wash them off because near the end of the hike I was needing more water.
Thankfully when I didn’t think I could go on and kept pushing on, I saw the large deck in the water as the path turned once more to the left, and I had remembered seeing that in the parking lot when looking about for the beginning of the trail. I was glad to finally see the parking lot at 4 p.m. after hiking 5.6 miles. After a brief rest in the car with the air conditioner on and sanitizing my hands up to my elbows twice, I ate up my last apple, banana, orange, and drank two bottles of water.
For my photographs, I borrowed a Fuji X100S with the neutral density filter turned on.