Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fort Donelson - Perhaps Yet Another Visit?

So my wife takes an annual trip to Pensacola with her family each year, and while I would like to go for maybe a day or two (Fort Pickens, anyone?), the idea of four or more days fishing and beach-combing just doesn't do it for me. So, while she is heading to Florida, I am planning a trip for myself.  It will work nicely...I will be able to drop her off at the airport on Wednesday morning and then head from there to wherever I decide.  She doesn't return until Sunday evening, which gives me a few days to do my own thing while still picking her up from the airport.  Where to go, what to do?

A booklet on the over thirty War Department tablets perhaps?
I was thinking about a backpacking trip initially, maybe to Cumberland Gap.  But I am out of shape for tackling the climb to the top of the mountain, and I am not sure if I can arrange a shuttle to take me to the starting point (with its immediate near two thousand foot climb).  And there is that out of shape thing.  Love me some Cumberland Gap, but if I go backpacking, it needs to have some less strenuous climbing.  Ohio has a few decent backpacking loops, but then again, it is Ohio, with a ton of invasive species ruining the under-story, and overcrowded backpacking trails.  But the Gap and Ohio is a much shorter drive than some other places.  Then I thought of Land Between the Lakes.  I took on some of the trails in the Fort Henry system a couple of years ago, and the climbs are mostly steady, not crazy, and not a lot of elevation changes.  Open under-story (from what I remember) and a couple of decent campsites along the way.  No need for a shuttle as I can do a loop there.  Then my mind drifted even more to just doing a trip to Fort Donelson.  I can walk all the trails and the driving tour route, which would give me a nice nine mile day hike.  A couple of huffer puffer hills, but nothing that crazy.  Plus it would also take me closer to documenting all the War Department tablets there, a project I want to complete and heck, maybe even put into a booklet.

Locations of most of the Fort Donelson War Department tablets
So with this last idea in mind I reached out to my Missouri Civil War buddy Andy.  We met a few years back during the Chickamauga annual event and since then have toured a few places together; he even brought his round table out to tour Perryville with me as guide a couple of years ago.  Sure, we toured Fort Donelson just last year, and covered a lot of the ground on foot, but as Fort Donelson is my second closest National Park battlefield (Stones River being the first, but Stones Rivers is meh), and I have this project idea in my head, and I have the time, I sent him an invite.  So, pending his availability, I may backpack Fort Henry two nights, and then stay two nights in Dover to explore Fort Donelson.

I'll make mention of the finalization of these plans so that folks who may be interested in either the backpacking trip (8-10 miles per day) or Fort Donelson exploration can join if they would like.  The trip would happen the first weekend of May.


  1. I'd consider it but I'm already off a full week in May to accompany Dave to New Orleans and Austin. I've been attempting to talk several locals into a Donelson weekend, as it is the closest ACW battlefield to me, but if we do it it won't be in May.

  2. Once Andy can confirm what he can/can't do, I may do the backpacking portion, then two days at the battlefield. Once I solidify plans I will put it out for others to join in. Austin and New Orleans? I guess, but not as cool. LOL



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