Monday, January 4, 2016

Day 125: Blazing Saddles!

July 10: It rained during the night, but had stopped by morning. I was on the trail hiking by around 6:30. Milkshake, of course, was still "missing" since his getting lost yesterday, but presumably he'd be back later in the day to retrieve his gear.

A couple of weeks later, I bumped into Ultimate again--Eleven's mom--and she said she was still there when Milkshake had returned for his gear and I got more details of his unexpected adventure. We didn't know it at the time, but he had a whistle on him when he got lost and tried blowing it repeatedly, but none of us ever heard it. He was probably already too lost and too far away from the shelter for us to hear it.

We'd assumed that Milkshake had found his way to a road to managed to hitch a ride into town, but no--that's how we learned he'd actually stumbled onto an off-the-grid cabin. And while we were searching for what we thought might be his corpse in the woods during the night, he was indoors enjoying wild turkey pie. The guy who took him in drove him up to the fire tower on an ATV saving Milkshake from the long walk back to the shelter.

The overnight rain left the rocks wet and slippery, but otherwise the day was mostly easy walking. Hot and humid, but mostly easy walking. The trail crossed NH highway 25A where someone had left an ice chest of cold drinks as trail magic, but it only contained ice and empty soda cans. I was disappointed not to get a cold drink, but I wasn't going to pass up the ice! I wrapped a bunch in a handkerchief which I put under my hat to help keep me cool for the next two hours until it finished melting.

I finished the day just outside of Glencliff, NH, after completing my second consecutive 20-mile day. After poking along so slowly for two weeks, it felt good to get back into the grove and be kicking out 20-mile days. I knew it wouldn't last as soon as I hit the White Mountains.... starting tomorrow.... but for now, I'd savor the long distances.

Just a couple of minutes walk off the trail is the Hiker's Welcome Hostel, and I walked in for the evening. I was talking with the owner of the place out front, not even walking inside yet, when Bearfish came out and said that he'd "vouch" for me, that I'm a pretty good guy.

"What are you doing?!" I told him. "Why would I even need vouching for? Are there bad rumors of me floating around?! He's going to think I'm a troublemaker if you keep vouching for me!" =)

In any case, it was fun catching up with Bearfish again. I took a shower, washed my clothes, and watched Blazing Saddles with some other hikers, one of the movies from what might be the largest collection of DVDs I've ever seen that lined an entire wall.

Later that evening, a few us gathered around a campfire in the back and were talking about nothing in particular when Beast casually asked if I was one of the people who searched for the dead body last night.

Well that certainly woke everyone up! They all leaned forward. "What?! What dead body?!" Of those gathered around the campfire, Beast was the only person who was at the same shelter as I was last night. Nobody else had any idea what she was talking about. In the darkness and excitement of the night, I guess she wasn't sure if it was me that went out searching for Milkshake or if it was one of the other guys nearby.

"Let me answer her question first," I told the others, "because hers is quick and easy to answer."

Then I turned back to Beast. "Yes," I told her, "I was one of those that went looking for the dead body."

Then we filled the others in on our excitement the night before. Beast was the one who had called 911 from her cell phone and I actually learned more details about that call which I hadn't picked up on while listening in on her side of the conversation. When she had first called, the 911 dispatcher ended up transferring her call to a forest service center or something which had details about Milkshake and where he was located, then they tried to transfer the call directly to the cabin where Milkshake was located but they never answered the phone. I hadn't realized that they were trying to connect her directly to Milkshake, although I wasn't really sure why. We didn't have to talk to the man--we just wanted to make sure he was okay!

But that was it for the day. I stayed up late into the night reading my Kindle then hit the sack. I needed my rest because tomorrow, I'd finally be entering the dreaded White Mountains. And still without my cold-weather gear!

This little guy was making pretty good time on the trail, but I still blew past him like he was standing still!

The Hexacuba Shelter is unique along the trail for it's unusual hexagonal shape!

Inside the Hexacube Shelter

Views from Mount Cube were great!

The drinks were gone, but I did take some left over ice to put under my hat on this warm and humid day!

My home for the night.

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