Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Long, Long, LONG Walk

The day started bright and cheery, but I wondered about the day to come. My information showed a nice, leisurely hike for about a dozen miles, then a whopping 30-mile road walk with no places to camp. Obviously, I'd be camping somewhere, but I had no idea how developed the area was or how hard it would be to stealth camp. Should I do it early on, or later up the road? I had no idea, and none of my information had any suggestions at all for this 30-mile road walk. I'd have to wing it.

A few hours into the hike, I caught up with Mountain Laurel and Mosey, a nice little surprise. I suspected they were ahead of me since I took four days off to hike the section I skipped, but I couldn't be certain or even know how far ahead they were.

I hike faster than them, and only hiked with them a few minutes before moving on, but it was long enough to watch Mountain Laurel take a dive into some mud--it happens to all hikers, including myself, but it's still funny. =)

It was also long enough for me to get caught in a spiderweb and go, "Arrrghhhh! So you two have been breaking these cobwebs for me all morning."

And they laughed and said yes, that was so.

About 15 minutes later, I met a hiker coming from the other direction, a man, by himself, but decked out full of official FTA merchandise.

Turns out, Larry just finished an official hike with the FTA to a nearby cemetery, but he knew Mountain Laurel and Mosey were somewhere on the trail and planned to hike out for an hour or two in the hopes of running into them.

"Have you seen them?" he asked me.

"Oh, about 15 minutes ago. I wouldn't be surprised if they walked up while we were talking."

He was surprised but obviously happy they were so close. He didn't expect them to reach this point until the next day.

I continued on, stopping at the Jane Green campsite a few minutes more down the trail. Two men were there, sitting and chatting, and I asked if they were part of the FTA group that just finished their hike.

"Talking to Larry, huh?"

Yep. =)

They asked about the two girls thru-hiking, and I repeated the information--they probably weren't more than ten or fifteen minutes behind me.

This got them excited, and one of them tried using his cell phone to call some of the other hikers who'd left mere minutes ago to get them to come back. It seems Mosey lives nearby, and is friends with a lot of the FTA members from the area, and they're all very supportive of her hike.

We heard voices coming from the trail, and sure enough, in walks Moutain Laurel, Mosey, and Larry. It was a happy reunion with Mosey, and hugs went flying. =)

I decided to cook lunch. I had a nice picnic table and well water to work with, and knowing there was a 30-mile road walk ahead, I wasn't sure I'd have a lot of convenient places to cook a meal ahead.

I asked everyone about the best place to camp along the road walk, and nobody had a good answer. Guess I'd just have to wing it, which was what I was planning to do anyhow.

I finished lunch--spaghetti for those who must know--and brushed my teeth. I don't normally brush my teeth after lunch, but spaghetti makes my mouth feel dirty or something, so I did.

We walked out to the road and the start of our roadwalk. I was planning to stop at a small grocery store at an intersection a mile or two up the road, excited for a cold drink, until one of the hikers informed me it had closed. There was no more grocery store.

This had two immediate implications for me. The first, I wouldn't get a cold soda except for the semi-cool Diet Pepsi that Larry offered me. I was very sad he only had diet sodas--on the trail, I want calories, lots of them, and I don't care where they come from. I took the soda, happy for something other than water, but oh how I longed for an ice cold soda with calories, and now I'd have none.

The second immediate problem I had was water. I planned to stock up on good, clean water at the store, and now that was no longer an option. Had I realized the store had closed, I'd have filled up with well water from the campsite, but I didn't want to backtrack at this point.

I had less than a liter of water left. At long last, I would have to resort to drinking surface water--the brown, ugly-looking stuff I'd walked along and through for so many miles. I didn't want to drink the surface water, especially on the road walk which passed through agricultural lands with the accompaning cow poop and pestisides.


I filled up with a few liters of water from what essentially amounted to a puddle on the side of the road. I only had one liter, and I didn't know how common water sources would be up ahead. Best to have at least a few liters at any given time, and restock as needed. I'd carry two days worth of good, clean water if I could, but there was no sense carrying two days of bad water when I could get more down the road. =)

The road walk started on US 192, a mile or two west of Deer Park. Once the trail hit the road, I wouldn't see another blaze for 30 miles. I find that a little annoying. The FTA seems to have a hbit of not blazing sections (or blazing them poorly) when the trail is 'obvious.' It's hard to get lost when you're following roads for 30 miles, but those orange blazes are like friends, and you start to miss them after awhile. Even when they aren't needed, they still comfort me. Like saying, "Yes, you're going the correct way. Keep up the good work!"

The trail turned north on CR 419 at Deer Park, and I passed by cows and orange trees bursting with oranges. I might have been tempted to grab one (an orange--not a cow!) except they were fenced off with barbed-wire.

I hiked about ten miles along the road, not seeing *anywhere* to stealth camp. It was exposed as exposed could be.

I stopped to rest, contemplating my next move. I already hiked 20 miles for the day, and the sun was now setting. I ate some snacks for dinner, and washed it down with brown, ugly water. (Happily, the water *tasted* normal, but it was brown and ugly, and probably full of pesticides.)

I decided to continue hiking. At night, as far as my feet would take me. Walking at night had two distict advantages: One, it wasn't nearly so hot, and two, there were fewer cars driving on the road. I felt pretty sure I could do at least five more miles and not have to do them the next day.

I hiked and I hiked. My feet hurt, but they always hurt, so I kept hiking. If I could just reach the intersection with CR 532, I thought, I'd have half my road walking done!

And on I hiked. I reached the intersection with CR 532--26.9 miles from where I started that morning. That beat my longest day on the Appalachian Trail already.

I could do more, though.....


Peas on Earth said...

Still enjoying your posts!! Thank you for keeping us updated as we hike vicariously through you. (I know that's not a comfort to your aching feet ... sorry!) I hope that water you drank doesn't come back to haunt you! Blessings~

Anonymous said...

I love Amanda's post about supporting through hiking. It mirrors perfectly with Ryan's sentiments here.

Trailtracker said...

OMG Ryan! You hiked the entire distance that a marathon runner runs?! Isn't that right? Big honkin' congrats and so consider this one of those friendly orange blazes the size of a billboard---just for you!! DANG!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ryan, you gonna be sorry you kept on hiking, blisters on top of blisters. Besides that sounds like when you do stop to rest your still gonna be exposed to the cars going by, how you gonna camp then? Maybe you need a tree camp, hee hee. Tree house?

Take care, spaghetti, huh?
Okie Dog

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

You could do more.....but should you?

Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers