Yesterday’s SCVN Friday Hikes was Pontatoc Ridge Trail. As we gathered at the trail head parking lot (at the end of Alvernon Way), it became apparent that we would need to create two hiking groups. Elizabeth Herron, Jeff Ornstein and I would guide Group 1, Dan Collins and Bill Kaufman Group 2. Including the guides, each group had 17 hikers, with a total of 39 public participants. The plan was that Group 1 would begin the SCVN hike about ten minutes before Group 2.
The Alvernon Way parking lot serves as the starting point for three trails; Finger RockTrail, Pontatoc Ridge Trail, and Pontatoc Ridge Trail. The hike starts on the Finger Rock Trail at the end of Alvernon Way. A few minutes after beginning the trail splits and the Pontatoc Ridge Trail (#410) diverges off to the east.
Look along the ridge-line to see the Pontatoc Ridge Saddle, where we should have been.
The trail takes hikers into the Pontatoc Canyon for about a mile where there’s another junction; the Pontatoc Trail goes left, while the Pontatoc Ridge Trail swings right and begins its climb to the ridge above. There is a direction sign at the junction, but the lead guide, me, didn’t read it and everyone else assumed he was taking the correct trail to Pontatoc Ridge Trail — wrong! If you don’t read the sign, it’s easy not to notice another trail veering off to the right.
Hikers pointing toward the Pontatoc Ridge.
We continued hiking up through the canyon. Occasionally I would look up at the ridge thinking the trail would begin the climb the ridge wall. Instead, the trail starting going to the left as we began a steep climb out of the canyon. As we continued to climb out of the canyon, it was becoming apparent that we were on the wrong trail.
At one point I commented, “Even though I had hiked the trail several times before, there are parts that I don’t remember.” And, for a good reason, I had never hiked the Pontatoc Trail.
We finally came to a relatively flat place we could stop, rest and assess the situation. It was then that I pointed out the saddle on the ridge across the canyon as where we suppose to be. It was my way of assuring everyone that we were not lost, we just took the wrong trail several miles back.
On our return, we stopped at the sign we didn’t read earlier on in the hike.
Of course, I was the blunt of jokes and laughter. In the end, everyone seemed to enjoy the adventure lead by “Wrong-way Kenne.” I know it’s a story I will long remember.
When the trail begins to look queer,
And that lump in your throat turns to fear,
There’s no need to dread
If you keep a straight head,
And bring the group back to “You Are Here”.
— Dan Collins