Section Hiking the Wabash Trace Trail | Gaston Ave to US-34 | May 2021
Back while we were training to backpack the Centennial Trail, I imagined that coming off the trail would be difficult. I thought for sure that we’d have post-vacation blues, especially after planning this trip for so long and training for it for months. I also worried that once we had experienced a taste of long distance backpacking that normal life wouldn’t ever be as enjoyable anymore. However, this wasn’t the case for me at all. I wasn’t disappointed when it came time to leave the Black Hills and drive home to our relatively flat area. While I’m very glad we did the hike and appreciate all we learned from it, I was genuinely excited to return to our normal life, with our daily routine of walking around lakes or parks, making our favorite meals together, and binging Arrested Development on repeat. I love our life in Nebraska and am very content here.
One thing that I kept thinking about on the Centennial trail was how much I was enjoying our section hiking of the Wabash Trace Trail. Sure, it’s fun to take on a long distance trail all at once, but I think it’s better that we’re just enjoying this particular trail one stretch at a time. It makes it easier to remember each part, to take our time and notice all the little things. By doing so, we also get to see how the trail looks in different seasons.
And so there was no doubt in my mind when Curtis asked what I wanted to do for our first weekend back, I was ready to continue on to the next section. We left early in the morning, hoping to beat the predicted rain and the heat and humidity that would come later that day. We crossed the Missouri and drove to Gaston Road, and parked in the one spot we had made note of last time we were here.
It had been over a month since the last time we had hiked on this trail, and I couldn’t believe how different it looked. All the trees were now filled with leaves, the whole trail was lush and green. The purple hennepin that filled the fields a month ago was gone; the corn had been planted and was already several inches tall. We saw several different types of purple wildflowers along the trail: Virginia Waterleaf, Spiderwort, and Dame’s Rocket. (Curtis uses the phone app “iNaturalist” to identify wildflowers. He takes pictures when we see them, and when we get home he uploads them to the app and finds out what they are!)
The most interesting thing we saw along this stretch of trail was along Silver Creek: while crossing the bridge (which was impressive in itself), we saw the remnants of at least 15 train cars just lying beside the creek! We had seen a few other train cars at a creek near Minneola, but there were many more here and they were much more visible from the trail.
We ended up walking to US-34 before deciding to turn around. Next time, we’ll drive to Malvern and hike back up to this point. We saw lots of bikers on our way back, after having had the trail to ourselves while hiking South. We made it to our car, and immediately after getting in, the skies opened up and it started pouring. What good timing! We managed to hike 6.6 miles round trip for this stretch. If you’re interested, check out our AllTrails recording here!