Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 86: Is it a creek? Or a trail?

June 1: By morning, the thunderstorm of epic proportions had stopped. A quiet fog lingered, however, and would continue to linger throughout the entire day.

An hour or two into the day's hike, I arrived at the next shelter on the trail and even before looking inside, I could hear a familiar voice: Hawkeye. And my initial thought was, "How the f*#& did he get ahead me?!" Last I saw him was two days earlier and I never saw him pass me on the trail. And considering I was camped right next to the trail last night, there's no way he could have sneaked by without my noticing him.

The rain had stopped--for now--but fog lingered throughout the day.

I thought about turning around right there to avoid the guy. I didn't like him. Nope, not at all. There aren't very many people on the trail I would deliberately make an effort to avoid, but he was definitely one of them. The shelter was located about a quarter-mile off the trail, though, and I had already hoofed it out this far. Turning around now seemed like a complete waste of walking so far off trail, and I was ready for a break out of the dampness of the weather and decided to enter the shelter anyhow.

Hawkeye told quite a story about his night which included an all-night hike through the thunderstorm and rain. Keep in mind that he carried no tent or tarp to protect himself from the elements so he was completely dependent on shelters along the trail. He also strikes me as something of an idiot and a drunk, neither of which likely helped his cause. He hiked late into the night out of necessity, and somewhere in the darkness took a wrong turn that wound up putting him on a busy Interstate where cars had to swerve to avoid him.

Hopelessly lost, he continued onward--not really having much choice in the matter--and eventually found himself on a blue-blazed trail which eventually led him to the shelter where I found him. That certainly explains how he passed me without my knowing it: He blue-blazed it. Apparently, he had arrived not long before I did and it was "the worst night of his life."

I found that somewhat difficult to believe--I get the impression that Hawkeye has likely suffered some pretty bad nights in a drunken stupor, and he's managed to survive them all. So far.

Hawkeye said he planned to get off the trail today and into a hotel, perhaps taking a day off tomorrow, and I wished him luck with that. In fact, I prayed this would happen. If he was off the trail, even just for a day or two, I wouldn't have to see him again!

Hawkeye soon left, and I lingered in the shelter longer than I otherwise might have to give him plenty of time to get ahead of me.

Lookout for what?! Bears?! Cougars?! Mountain lions?! No, just Hawkeye...

Today, my camera started giving me trouble by severely overexposing all of the photos I was taking. I'm not sure if it was the humidity in the air, but the photos looked severely overexposed and I had to change the settings to deliberately underexpose the photos to get them somewhat back into balance. Even then, however, I wondered if the photos would turn out correctly. They looked somewhat okay on the display of my camera, but what if the problem was in the display and not actually the exposure?

I always carry an extra camera in case problems happen with my main one, and I pulled it out to see what the photos looked like on that camera, and I messed around with each of them for a bit trying to decide which one worked best. Both had issues, but my best guess was that for some reason, my main camera was severely overexposing photos. But the over-exposure problem tended to come and go, usually coming when the humidity was particularly thick and working correctly when the humidity was less, so I was constantly having to adjust the exposures and probably not even doing a good job of it. It was time, I decided, to finally replace my camera. But I had to get into town to do that.

Later in the morning I arrived at the legendary 501 shelter, named for Highway 501 where it was located. This shelter is legendary because it's one of the few shelters on the trail where you can order pizza and have it delivered directly to the shelter! It was way too early in the morning for me to call it quits for the day, however, so I skipped the pizza. I took photos of the shelter (severely underexposing it to compensate the for the severely overexposed look the normal settings were causing), took a quick snack break, then continued onward.

I arrived at the Hertline Campsite at about 3:30 in the afternoon, just as the first sprinkle of rain started to fall. It was tempting to stop right then and there, set up my tarp and avoid the rain for the day. It was a very light sprinkle so far, and looked like it might even stop--I gave it a 50/50 chance that the sprinkles would stop before it got any worse.

But it was still fairly early in the afternoon and that's what sold it for me: I would continue onward, rain or no rain. I still wanted to catch up with Heavyweight and Superman. I knew I wouldn't do that today, but I'd be even further behind if I stopped this early in the afternoon. And I just did not want to stop so early in the day!

The sprinkling continued for about a half hour, eventually coming to a stop. YES! Awesome!

But the damage was done.... the trails were wet. Seriously wet. Unbelievably wet! At first, when I arrived where the trail was in a couple of inches of water, I tried to walk around the water or jump across on rocks and logs, but the water continued growing deeper and spreading out far outside of the trail boundaries. It was like walking through a swamp! By the time the water was ankle-deep, I gave up trying to keep my feet dry and just walked directly through the water.

The good news, if you can call it that, was that at least the trail wasn't muddy too! =) I didn't have to worry about mud sucking the shoes right off my feet. For miles, I walked through ankle-deep water. Eventually, I started ducking out onto side trails that sometimes pulled up out of the water, but only because my feet had started becoming numb from the cold water. I'd try to avoid the water for a few minutes at a time to give my feet a chance to warm up again, then go back in the water where my progress was faster.

The depth of the water varied, but most of the time was about ankle-deep. The deepest areas would come up to my knees--I'd been in rivers less deep than the trail today! Didn't I feel like a schmuck, walking through this river without having brought a boat! Who would have guessed that I might need a boat?!

An hour after the rain had stopped, it started up again, and this time it was no light sprinkle. It was a standard-issue, drenching rain. Despite the cold and rain, however, I stopped by an ice chest left next to state highway 183 to drink a cold soda because, hey, it was there. It would have seemed wrong to skip by it!

Late in the afternoon, I arrived at the junction for Black Swatara Spring where there were a couple of campsites. I set up my tarp and dived under it for the night. I was bummed that all of my gear by now was sopping wet, but I was still glad I hadn't stopped at that first campsite so early in the afternoon.

My ankle was still hurting, but not nearly as bad as those first couple of days and my progress for the day reflected it having covered just over 21 miles! Woo-yeah!

The 501 Shelter is legendary--primarily because you have pizza delivered to it!

My favorite part of this shelter is the large, octagon skylight!
That's Turbo on the left and Scribbles on the right.

'Twas a wet, wet trail....

In 1753, this was the site of Fort Dietrich Snyder, a lookout post to warn of the approach of enemies in the French and Indian War.

There's a thru-hiker picnic in nearly a week in Port Clinton! Unfortunately, I expected to have long passed Port Clinton by then. =(

Even though the day was quite cold, I still took an ice-cold soda while I could because, hey! It was there for the taking! But admittedly, I'd have probably enjoyed it more on a hot day. =)

My home, sweet, home for the night....

1 comment:

Unknown said...

On the plus side, all that cold water probably helped with the swelling of your ankle as well as numbing it somewhat.