Friday, March 26, 2021

Day 2: Howls in the Night

February 24: It was about 2:30 in the morning and I was dead asleep. Then.... HOOOOWWWWWLLLL! An ear-piercing howl echoed through the dark woods. I woke up immediately, the crap officially scared out of me. The howl sounded like it was coming from maybe a hundred feet away. I didn't think wolves were out here, so I wasn't sure what it was. Coyotes? A wild dog? Bigfoot?! It was nearly a full moon. Maybe it was a werewolf?!

Somewhere, something howls in the darkness....

If it was properly scared of people--and why wouldn't it be? Hunting was allowed in these woods, why did it sneak up so closely to me?  Maybe it didn't even realize I was here and just happened to howl. I looked through the dark woods but saw nothing. It was dark, but a nearly full moon filtered through the trees so it wasn't pitch black either. I held my breath and listened some more, but heard nothing but the wind filtering through the trees.

I wondered if I should shout at it. Let it know I was here and maybe scare it off--whatever it was. On the other hand, if it didn't know I was here, maybe that was the better option? Hmm... I wasn't sure what to do. I kind of wished I had my bear spray from the PNT. If I had that, I'd certainly make sure it was prepped and ready.

After the heart-attack-inducing wake-up call, I had trouble falling back asleep and pulled out my Kindle to read. About a half hour after that first howl, I heard another one, although this time is was much further away, and even more howls that seemed to answer in reply that were barely discernible. What was causing them?!

While reading my Kindle, I noticed a large shadow moving just in front of me. It was the moon casting the shadow from behind me, and I distinctly remember thinking, "I hope that's a tree overhead blowing in the wind."

I turned around and looked over my should and saw... nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was the wind blowing the trees. I went back to reading, but the moving shadow was still disturbing. It reminded me of something from a horror movie.

In all, it took me about two hours before I could finally fall asleep again, but I didn't sleep well after that.

The sun eventually rose and I had survived the night. Well, actually, the sun didn't rise per se. Grey clouds had blown in leaving the sky overcast and gloomy. I slept in late, though. Having only planned to hike about 10 miles for the day, I was no rush to get moving early and I needed the extra sleep! So I slept until about 8:00am.


When I finally woke and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I noticed that my sleeping bag was inside out. It was quite warm the evening before and I hadn't actually pulled out my sleeping bag until long after dark, and I totally didn't notice the difference in colors from the inside and outside in the darkness. No harm done, but I was amused. After getting out of the bag, I pulled it through the opening by the head to make it right-side out again.

As I broke down camp, a few drops of water hit me. It wasn't rain, exactly. More like a thick fog that feels a little wet, but it wasn't foggy either. I assumed that maybe water had condensed on the tree branches and leaves above me and that's what was falling.

Anyhow, I finished breakfast and breaking down camp, then hit the trail.

Later in the afternoon, temperatures warmed up to something that I found uncomfortably warm. Not hot per se, but hotter than I preferred! Sections of the trail had puddles of water and one particularly swampy area required that I get my feet wet. There was no avoiding it! 

I took a couple of two-hour long breaks. With only 10 miles or so scheduled for the day, I was in no particular rush and took my time.

The day's hike was uneventful, though. I didn't run into a single hiker on the trail. Not a day hiker, not a backpacker. Absolutely nobody.

I finally set up camp shortly before a road at mile marker 16. I deliberately stopped short of the road. There was a bridge out ahead and I knew I'd have to follow the road for several miles on a detour around the closure, and I felt much more comfortable sleeping in the woods than along a potentially busy road.

I could hear traffic from the road in camp so I knew it was fairly busy, and I was glad not to be on it. =) But I was also far enough away that the noise from the road wasn't particularly bothersome.

The weather forecast also called for a chance of rain during the night. I wanted to cowboy camp, though, so I didn't set up my tarp. I did, however, select a location that was next to a tree I could use to tie a tarp over my campsite quickly and wouldn't pool water. I wasn't going to set up my tarp unless it started to rain, but at least I was prepared to set up my tarp quickly if needed.

And that was the end of the day. A nice walk in the woods.... =)

This bridge as a pretty big defect....

I find palmettos to be so fascinating! Like little palm trees without the trunk.

Caney Creek

Texas wants to hurt people!

Through this area, I had to get my feet wet for the first time. Very swampy!

You'll find quite a few pipelines across the trail.

This tree needed some iron, so it ate a blaze. =) (Unlike the AT and many other trails, these blazes are metal rectangles nailed to the trees rather than painted on.)

Setting up camp for the night again!


Unknown said...

I really love your photos!!

KuKu said...

How is the rip in your pack?

Ryan said...

The rip in the pack was a non-event. I sewed it up and it worked fine the rest of the trip. =)