I arrived at the trail head about 7:35 and there were already a few people there. I said hello and proceeded to put on my "cleated" boots as I knew this would be a muddy hike and there would be stream crossings and the steel cleats grip on the otherwise slippery wet river rocks. After putting my wallet and cell phone in plastic bags and loading the pack on my back I took off around 7:50, at least 10-15 minutes before the rest of the crew would start. I wanted to get a good head start as I had to stop at one of my Geocaches and do some replacement there.
As I started down I noticed a plack screwed to a tree remembering a hiker from Australia who started on this trail back in September and was never seen again. Many days were spent by the Fire and Rescue people, as well as volunteers from the hiking, hunting, and military communities but no trace of him was turned up.
The beginning of the trail was very muddy and slippery. Even with the steel cleats I had to take it slow going down to the ditch trail. Once on the ditch trail the ground was quite firm and there was little danger of slipping. The trail was overgrown, but I just passed thru it as I know there were TM members who specialize on trail beginnings as well as folks like me that like to bust thru the beginning and clear the back sections.