Long Leaf Trace in Mississippi (Hattiesburg to Prentiss 41 miles)- January 11 and 12, 2004.
After 4 years of full-timing, we finally did a bike backpack. Carrying those bike trailers in our garage (cargo trailer) finally got some use! Although after 30 miles on the trail, I was ready to sell them! Dick's now teasing me about that statement! As usual, we always plan outrageous trips without preparing our bodies! We do have intentions of doing more hiking and biking, maybe this will be the year!
We parked our camper in the large parking lot in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on Saturday (Jan.10th). It took us most of the afternoon to get all our gear that's neatly stored away in the garage for our adventure. There is an actual office here at the trailhead but it was closed for the weekend. We had spoken to Herlon Pierce, Trail Manager (601-315-2453) before on the phone and he said we could leave our rig here without any problems. The parking lot was large and pretty empty but we parked in the designated area and it's a good thing because the other side gets busy with cars for the University on Monday through Friday. There's also a bike shop here next to the trailhead office. We were able to rent a recumbent for an hour to see how they feel. We love the seats, does anyone know how they are on hills???
We left Sunday morning (Jan. 11) deciding that we would probably take 2 nights. Although the ride was pretty flat starting at an elevation of 240' and our highest elevation was 520', I hadn't ridden in awhile. I thank Dick for being so patient and he always let me set the pace. He never pushes or suggests what we must do or when we must quit! The trail started out of Hattiesburg in a pine forest, then hardwood forest and even some bamboo. We went through some nice little quiet sleepy towns like Sumrall, Bassfield, Carson and ending up in Prentiss. I'm sure if you have a rig and want to park at some of these trailheads, it wouldn't be a problem.
There's also a state park
around 2.8 miles off the trail where you can camp. There's a
nice rest stop overlooking a beaver pond which is no longer
inhabited. Most of the rest stops have these wonderful little
benches for two that by flipping the back of the seat and locking it
into place makes a nice table, very clever!
The trail is a nice wide trail of
around 10' and not many holes or bumps. Guess they don't get
frost heaves here. It was also pretty quiet but don't forget
this is winter weather for these people, their Spring doesn't start
until February. We would go by some beautiful homes, farms,
swamps and I got a great picture of the famous Kudzu that we've been
seeing all over Mississippi. This vine is often referred to
as "the vine that ate the South". This vine was
planted all over the south in the 1930's imported
from China and Japan to help with erosion. Well, it takes over
anything that sits still long enough. It's been known to take over
trees, telephone poles, tractor trailer trucks, houses (as you
can see in the photo) and even you if you stand still long
enough! The roots are extremely deep so even though the
plant is killed by frost, the roots survive and continue to grow and
spread! We understand that it has pretty fragrant flowers in
the Spring. Let's hope it leaves the bike trail alone!
Of course, we were in the country and there were lots of birds, we saw a bunny rabbit, a turkey fly off and a hawk. I'm sure other eyes were watching! Monday morning before we left Bassfield to finish up the end of the trail, I spoke with a policeman. He said they figured we were from the north when they saw our tent! It's too funny, every time I open my mouth here, people always say "where are you from?" I guess they can tell immediately that we're Yanks!
We decided to just take our time and work our way back to our camper after we reached Prentiss, the end of the trail. If we made it back in one day, fine and if we didn't, that was fine too! I have to laugh because with our trailers and panniers, we sure looked like we were going out for a month or two! Well, although my butt was numb from soreness and so were my arms, I figured, we might as well do the whole 53 miles back to our comfy bed that night. As I mentioned earlier, Dick's pretty agreeable!
We arrived at the trailhead and Bill Powe, III the Gateway/Lake Sehoy Manager came out to greet us, take our names and where we were from with a promise to send him some photos. You can call for information at 1-800-638-6877 or visit www.longleaftrace.com. We find the people warm, friendly and helpful.
Happy Trails in 2004.
Dick & Carol Rathbun - Tasha too!