Friday, September 4, 2015

Day 73: Heat Wave!

May 19: I ate my last continental breakfast at the Super 8 and wrote a couple of more blog entries before packing up and hitting the trail by 10:00 AM. It wasn’t an early start, but it could have been worse!

The trail followed along US 522 for a short bit.

Before leaving town, I made a quick stop at Martians to pick up a new battery for my Fitbit. It reported being low the evening before after I had already made my grocery run for the day. It was an annoying stop, but a quick one.

Then I stood near the corner for Highway 522 which went a few miles back to the trailhead. I didn’t want to walk the several miles back so I stood there and hitchhiked instead. After about 10 minutes, a small van pulled over with a hiker in the front and I jumped into the back. Along the way, we picked up another thru-hiker who had given up on hitchhiking and was walking back to the trail with his grocery bags in hand.

I got back on the trail and started hiking. Even in the morning, temperatures were uncomfortably warm. I’m not sure the thermometer would have registered as being hot—the weather forecasts called for temps in the low 80s, but the humidity was thick and I melted in it. I didn’t get rid of my winter gear a moment too soon!


The first shelter I reached was the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter which is particularly noteworthy because it’s one of the few shelters with a shower! The water, frankly, is kind of cold, but the concept was neat. I didn’t use it, though. After all, I got my shower in at the hotel before I left.

More surprising, however, was when flipping through the register, I noticed an entry from last October by Tradja—a hiker I knew from my PCT hike! And I knew it was the same guy because he had listed all of his previous thru-hikes in the register entry and there was the PCT back in 2010. I had no idea he’d been out on the trail here last year and certainly didn’t expect to see any names I recognized from last October so it really was just bizarre luck I happened to notice his register entry.

After having taken two zero days, I wasn’t entirely sure where everyone else on the trail was in relation to myself. The register confirmed that Little Red, Chuckles and Blueberry were all now ahead of me. I didn’t see Superman or Heavyweight listed, but I figured they’d likely be close. They could even be ahead of me but didn’t sign the register.

Rumor has it that there are exotic zoo animals beyond this fence. But clearly, it was closed to people such as me! The trail follows this fence for quite awhile, but I never saw any exotic animals on the other side.

I stopped for the day at Dicks Dome Shelter, one of the more bizarre-looking shelters of the trail. It’s an interesting shelter, but seems poorly designed for packing in hikers since the floor is more circular than square. It’s an odd fit. The shelter was in considerably better shape than I remembered from my first thru-hike when it was in such bad shape that I didn’t dare sleep in it. This time I didn’t sleep in it either, but mostly because it looked like several people were already in it and it was getting crowded. I’d be more comfortable cowboy camping. Rain was not in the forecast.

I carried in a boat-load of water from the Manassas Gap Shelter since my guidebook suggested that the creek in front of the shelter should be treated. They usually say that “all water sources” should be treated and don’t say anything about specific water sources, but since I don’t treat my water, I’m very picky about water sources—and the fact that the guidebook specifically picked on the creek water in front of the shelter, it made me think that they know it’s contaminated and therefore not safe for me to drink. It looked fine, but of course, that’s no guarantee of anything. I didn’t know what was wrong with the water and why it deserved a special warning, but I wasn’t taking any chances and hauled in my own water instead.

Then I set up camp, cooked dinner, brushed my teeth and eventually faded off to sleep. It had been a week since I last camped in the woods, but I felt right at home. =)


I was hiking the trail faster than this guy! =)


The Jim and Molly Denton Shelter was pretty fancy with a separate, covered cooking area and a porch in front of the shelter. Behind the shelter (not in the photo) is even a shower!

And this is the shower. It’s primitive and the water isn’t especially warm, but it would feel nice on an otherwise hot day! =)

I slipped and broke this buckle on my pack. The dirty knee was from the slip. Instead of fixing the buckle, I just tied the brown webbing in a knot to the buckle which is how I’d continue hiking for over a thousand miles. It was no longer adjustable, but it still managed to work! =)



What the heck are those “thorns” on these leaves?! I don’t know. Really! If you know, post a comment and let the rest of us know! =)

Crossing some railroad tracks. Be sure to look both ways before crossing!

A hiker is getting water from this creek. He’s treating his water (good for him!), but the water looked kind of nasty to me and I didn’t drink from this water at all.

The trail crosses under I-66 here.


This is the biggest, heaviest stove I’ve ever seen in the backcountry! When this hiker started cooking with it, I thought maybe it was a “shelter stove”—left in the shelter for other hikers to use. I couldn’t imagine anyone would carry a two-burner, extraordinarily heavy stove like this, but by golly, he did! Apparently, he got it for free so the price was right. Admittedly, it’s a good price, but I still think I’d have passed on it! It must have weighed 20 pounds!

And here’s the Dicks Dome Shelter, a rather small shelter with an awkwardly-sized floor. I decided to cowboy camp outside of the shelter instead. =)


Anonymous said...

Your "thorns" on those leaves are called nipple gall. There are 1500 types of galls. They do not hurt a tree/shrub. Just's a chemical reaction type thing between the leaf and an usually an insect.

Anonymous said...

"but the water looked kind of nasty to me and I didn’t drink from this water at all."
This water looks like Perrier compared to your Arizona Trail water sources ;-)

Don't Panic!

Anonymous said...

It looks like the galls might be Witch Hazel galls. The plant got it's name because it's galls look like witch hats.

Honey Bear Clan said...

I looked at the picture of Waller Shelter before I read the text and thought it was a hiker shelter. "Jeez, they're really picky about who they let in!"