Homer's Travels: Hiking Iowa: Wabash Trace Nature Trail - Coin to Bingham

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hiking Iowa: Wabash Trace Nature Trail - Coin to Bingham

Friday I went out for my long hike for the week.  My destination: the southern end of the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.  The stretch I would be doing starts in the small town of Coin, IA (I snowshoed here last December) and head north west to the even smaller town of Bingham, IA.  (I should really put a map together showing the parts that I've completed.)  This stretch is about seven and a half miles long so I was aiming for a total of fifteen miles for the round trip.

The Wabash is pretty consistent from one end to the other - a straight, level, crushed limestone trail often bordered by trees that, once they are leafed out, form a a canopy over the trail.  This part of the Wabash crosses farm land with a few river and creek crossings.  As I walked along the trail I wondered if there would be anything to post about.  I saw wildlife (turkeys, deer, pheasant) and  evidence of wildlife (Chirping birds, coyote scat, prints galore, and the nearly deafening chirping of frogs in water along the trail).  Nothing I haven't posted about before.  About five miles north west of coin I got my answer: Benches.

"Benches?" you ask.  What can be said about benches?  Most of the benches I have encountered on the Wabash are your standard bench stuck in the ground.  Most of  the benches along the trail are dedicated to someone.  This affects bench placement as they are often placed in the memorialized person's favorite part of the trail.  This often results in long stretches without benches and then a cluster of two or three benches within five hundred feet or less of each other.  I wish they would be distributed more evenly.  But, while this is also true for this stretch of the Wabash, there is something special about the benches between Coin and Bingham: originality.

The first bench, the most interesting one that I've ever seen, is at a large bridge crossing the Middle Tarkio Creek ( I would call it a river but I guess it's too small for riverhood).  It is one of three with five hundred feet of each other (of course), the others being benches built into the long bridge and a covered picnic table.  Here is the bench:

Why aren't they all like this?
The inscription says "In Memory of Joyce & Donnell Hullman 'Sit down, you're making me nervous.' - Don".  I didn't use the bench on the way out (I'd stopped at the picnic table) but I did use it on the way back.  I have to say that it is as comfy as it looks and I found it difficult to leave.   If there had been less wind, I would have probably fallen asleep.  I guess that's why they're not more common.

The other interesting bench was at my turn around point of Bingham.  Now, I like small towns but Bingham is too small.  If I hadn't known it was there I would have missed it.  It basically is a small cluster of farm houses. I don't think there are any businesses there.  There was a building that could have been a mechanic or a farm implement store but, more likely, it was some farmers tractor shed.  The road through town wasn't paved.  Heck, it wasn't even dirt.  It was a mowed strip of grass.  When I first saw it I thought it was someone's lawn then I realized it was too long and thin and it matched the map on my GPS.

Back to the Bingham bench.  The bench is a porch swing under a tin roof.  Scrawled in the concrete were initials and "94" meaning it was erected in 1994.  Also there was scrawled "BURT PATTLIN 2-18-21"  Not sure if this was dedicated to him or if he was the one who built it.  It was a very nice swinging bench:

One swinging bench.
Another notable thing about this hike was my blister bandaging experiment.  To protect the large blister on the ball of my right foot, I wrapped a tight ace bandage around the foot.  The problem was, when I put on my socks (Omni-Wool hiking socks which are very tight) the bandage shifted toward the rear of my foot.  When I finally sat on the cool curvy bench, I removed my shoe and sock, re-wrapped the foot, and figured out how to put the sock on without shifting the bandage.  For the next five miles ... let's just say that the bandage was a bad idea.  A really bad idea.  When I got home I had two blisters on the ball of my right foot.  The two blisters have since merged into one huge blister.  Sigh.  Next week, no long hike.  I need time to heal.

Benches and blisters, these are the notable things about this hike.  I did three geocaches.  One ("Coin Treasure") was near an old abandoned school in Coin.  I would love to explore it but, by the holes in the ceiling you can see through the broken windows, I don't imagine that the inside would be safe.  Can't imagine what the rain and snow has done to the inside.  Still would like to go in though.

Total distance for this hike was 16.15 miles (I walked around Coin a bit and added almost a mile).  Photographs I took on the hike and in Coin can be found in my 2009-2013 Wabash Trace Nature Trail Hike Google Photos album.


  1. Your poor foot! I hope it heals soon. :(

    How cool are those benches? I guess having a bench that makes you want to fall asleep isn't ideal, unless it's in your own backyard. :) But it's still very cool!

    I'm always surprised by how loud frogs are too! But I hardly see the little buggers.

  2. When I retire, I think my hobby/mission is going to be to replace hiking benches around the world with uber-comfortable hiking benches...

  3. Miss McC: My foot will get better eventually ... if I let it, I'm too impatient to wait.

    I really liked the benches at it was kind of fun finding them out in the middle of nowhere.

    They are loud and they all went silent as soon as I stopped to look for them ... kind of eerie.

    GH: Great idea!