Spring 01, Big South Fork, Bandy Creek Loop  

Charit Creek Lodge

Distance: 26.9 miles

Hikers: Leo, Ank. Mooch

Highlights: A friendly lodge, some unfriendly snakes - both were part of this trail.

Day 1:  We followed the Bandy Creek trail from Bandy Creek Campground to the West Entrance Trail. From here we followed the Laurel Fork Creek Trail to the Black Horse Branch Trail. You will have hiked 6.2 miles when you connect with Charit Creek Trail. It will be about another mile to the lodge. We were not planning on stopping yet, but when we saw the lodge, horseshoe pit, large front porch and a hammock, we reconsidered. We asked the keepers of the lodge if it would be OK to camp near the lodge, and they were very accommodating. They showed us a large flat area to put up our tents, allowed us to use their water spigots to fill our bottles and welcomed us to use their firewood.

We were set for an afternoon of getting out of boots and into shoes - and getting off our feet and into hammocks.

The trail was pretty easy walking but we nicknamed this trail "Copperhead Road" because we stepped over or on at least five copperhead snakes along the way. They blended into the fallen brown leaves on the trail and you couldn't see them until you stepped over them and then the person behind you jumped and yelled,  "SNAKE!"
This area was also known for wild boars. We later learned that some dugout areas that we encountered were rutting areas for the boars.

Day 2: We visited Twin Arches, Slave Falls and Jakes Place. This lead us back to the Laurel Fork Trail. We camped at a random site that night along Slave Creek, after numerous more creek crossings. The site was a 3 on our rating scale, with level ground, wood and plenty of water.

Day 3:  We hiked out from Laurel Fork and Western Entrance. We had to survive one more snake-sighting on this trail. We came across a baby rattlesnake that was too small to bite -- but had a noticeable rattle.