Homer's Travels: Hiking Iowa: Wabash Trace Nature Trail - Malvern To Strahan

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hiking Iowa: Wabash Trace Nature Trail - Malvern To Strahan

On Friday I returned to the Wabash Trace Nature Trail and walked between Malvern, IA and Strahan, IA.  I picked Strahan as a turnaround point as it was about half way between Malvern and Imogene, the usual endpoint of this segment of the trace.  The segment to too long for me to hike so I cut it in two.

In preparation for my Spain pilgrimage next year, and the Steamboat and Cowboy Trails this year, I decided to hike with a backpack.  Now, this is a first for me.  I've always been a day hiker and I've never needed anything more than a large fanny pack or small day pack.  For these longer hikes I'll have to carry changes of clothes and stuff so a larger backpack will be required.  The Wife bought me one a few Christmases ago and I finally managed to use it.  I started easy with, essentially, an empty backpack.  I carried my camera (and bag), GPS, and a two liter water bladder (full of water ... of course).  All told, the pack weighed about 9.6 lbs.  I think I may have actually hiked with more before.  I carried a smaller day pack with a three liter water bladder, camera, and GPS back on my Jalama beach hike.  I remember my back aching on that hike but on this hike, with a proper backpack that carries most of the weight on you hips, my back felt fine.

I started walking the Wabash Trace back in November.  Until Friday, I'd never seen the trail with leaves on the trees.  While only about half of the trees have leafed out, the added green really improved the scenery on this hike.  Adding to the green was the color and the fragrance of blooming trees and flowers.  I'm not sure what type of trees they are (I suspect they are dogwood) but they have just a hint of fragrance that carries on the wind.

The trail alternates between low wooded hills and flat farmland.  I passed several farmsteads along this section of the Trace.  The trace crosses several screams (oops ... silly type-o) streams, creeks, washes, and drainage ditches along its route.  There are few I would call a river.  On this section of the trace, you do cross a rather impressive river spanned by an impressive bridge.  The river is the West Nishnabotna River (Native American for Canoe-Making River).  There is something about bridges that fascinate me.

My first milestone which I approached after crossing the river was the town of White Cloud.  When I looked it up on my GPS the town was labeled "historical".  Historical is Garmin GPS lingo for "there ain't no town here anymore."  Sure enough, when I arrived to the coordinates of the town I found myself on a dirt road, near a creek, surrounded by empty farm fields.  Not even a marker.  It looks like White Cloud didn't survive the shutdown of the railroad.

I continued on to my turnaround point, another historical town called Strahan.  Strahan is still around.  There are four or five farm houses and associated barns, sheds, and equipment buildings.  The town is also home of the Strahan United Methodist Church but that's about it.

At this point I turned around and headed back where I'd come from.  The wind picked up and it turned a little burly on the way back.  The total hike was 13.9 miles.  The backpack felt fine as did my back.  I think I tend to lean forward as I walk which stresses my back on long hikes.  Maybe the weight of a backpack will help straighten my posture.  Pictures of this section have been added to my 2009-2013 Wabash Trace Nature Trail Hike Google Photos album.


  1. Did you use your brandy new camera for this trip?

    I'm glad you weren't having aches and pains from your back-pack! I also giggled every time you wrote "bladder"

    hee hee hee!

  2. Excellent pics. Raw or jpg, whatever lens you've got on the camera seems to be a fine piece of glass!

    I use an old CamelBak myself, with the 3 liter reservoir (I don't want MissMcCracken laughing at me!); it does the job, but sometimes I want one of those packs with the big air panel behind it...

    (and because I can't resist) I always hate crossing screams myself. So noisy... ;)

  3. Miss McC: Alas, no. I didn't have a bag yet but that has been corrected. My next hike will be with my new camera.

    bladder ... bladder ... bladder ... HA!!!

    GH: Sorry, just JPG from my ol' Canon S5 IS (Same as your camera, I believe).

    I do have a three liter as well but I'm trying to keep weight down when I do my long walks and i hope 2 liters will be enough. I hope to be able to refill in towns long the pilgrimage route if I need to.

    Do not fear the mocking of the McCracken. She is harmless :-)

    AAAAAHHHH!!!!! I'll fix that. lol!