Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Day 7: A miserable day on the trail....

June 6: The first drops of rain started at around 4:00 in the morning, and a light but steady rain continued until about 9:00. Having checked the weather forecast, we knew it would tapper off in the morning so Blueberry and I decided to wait it out finally leaving camp at about 10:30.

The day's hiking was generally not a very good one. It was miserable with the recent rain, the humidity and mud became a bigger problem, and the heat and bugs continued to drag down our moral. And there weren't much in the way of views to compensate for the otherwise difficult conditions.

As if to throw that fact in our face, my guidebook described the "12 Mile View" coming up where Lake Superior could be seen 12 miles away. It sounded like there would be a grand view from that point, but it would have been better named the "12 Foot View" since trees blocked views in all directions except for a tiny section which gave the smallest glimpse of Lake Superior. It was such a small glimpse, you could have covered the lake with a quarter at arm's length. It was as if the trail maintainers wanted to play a cruel practical joke on us--to get our hopes up before smashing us into the ground. I looked for the hidden cameras to capture our reactions but found none.

Late in the day we met a new hiker joining the trail, Andrew. His fiancee was dropping him off at a trail head and he had yet to take his first steps on the trail when we crossed paths. I stopped in the parking lot for a short break and Blueberry was already there a few minutes ahead of me making introductions.

We chatted a few minutes more, and Andrew's fiancee seemed worried about his well-being and we assured her he'd be fine--that you have to do something spectacularly stupid to get yourself killed out here like take a selfie with a bear or walk off a cliff while hiking with your eyes closed.

We chatted for a few minutes more, before Blueberry continued down the trail, and Andrew followed a few minutes after that, seemingly a bit wobbly under the staggering weight of his very large and heavy pack. He was clearly new to long-distance hiking, but he'll learn.

As he ducked into the woods in the trail, his fiancee said softly--so softly that I don't think Andrew could hear it--"I love you." Then paused before adding, "Don't die."

It was kind of comical the way she said it, but you could tell she meant it. I chatted with her a couple of more minutes before she drove away and I was left in the parking lot by myself.

I was still ready for a break, though, and sat down in a patch of nearby shade for another 10 minutes eating a snack. The bugs didn't seem as thick or as bad in the wide-open parking lots where more of a breeze could blow through.

After my break, I continued on and caught up with Blueberry and Andrew at the Ferguson Campsite for the evening. Blueberry had already started a small campfire and Andrew set up his tent.

In camp, I changed into my camp clothes and did a thorough tick check, finding a few more buggers on me bringing my total for the day to 11. Blueberry found about half that number--the first day on the trail that I had a larger tick count than Blueberry. That was 24 ticks I've pulled off me in the past two days! But Blueberry still led me in total ticks found.

Around the campfire, we tried to figure out a trail name for Andrew. He didn't think he needed or deserved one--he wasn't thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or anything like we had done, but we told him that was nonsense! He was thru-hiking the trail--a traditional thru-hike of this trail rather than a total thru-hike, but he was still a thru-hiker (or at least making an attempt at it) and therefore deserved a hiker name.

"So tell us more about yourself" I implored. "Maybe that will help us figure out a name."

He did, but it was kind of a side comment later when he said something about wanting to keep everything tidy that Blueberry jumped on the word and said we could call him Tidy. I wasn't sure the name was a good match--I imagined someone named Tidy would be wearing an impeccable collared shirt without a spec of dust on it. And maybe a bow tie. Andrew didn't seem excited about the name, but he didn't really seem opposed it to either. He seemed like an easy-going kind of guy that would have happily agreed to just about any trail name that we suggested.

So, at least until we thought of something better, we'd call him Tidy. It was still early in the trail. His name could still evolve.

One of the rare, genuine views from the trail today! See Lake Superior on the horizon?! =)

Blueberry and Tidy share a laugh around the campfire.

No comments: