Monday, October 25, 2021

Day 4: The First Trail Magic!

April 24: The wind finally died down during the night, so today was the first day with little wind. Evenstar and I woke up and hit the trail, but Sprout and Paddles hung back waiting for a friend who was going to pick them up at the road crossing for a quick trip into town to resupply.

The lack of wind, however, was not compensated with lower temperatures. Temperatures were still hitting highs in the mid-80s. I recognized that it could be worse, but it was still hot and I took breaks at every shady place I could find. Today's stops included once behind a water tank and twice under random trees that somehow managed to thrive in this harsh environment. At the last tree, I took a whopping 2-hour break during the hottest part of the day. I was in less of a rush today than the last couple of days, planning to complete only about 16 miles, which also gave me more time for breaks. Especially during the hottest parts of the day.

The terrain was mostly flat and easy. It was a little amusing to me when I heard other hikers complain about the "rugged" terrain. What would they think when they had to hike through the mountains in Colorado? It's true that the ground wasn't Kansas-flat, but compared to what we'd have further up the trail, this was be a cakewalk. The difficulty in this section wasn't the slopes, but rather the heat and lack of shade and water.

A dust devil sweeps through the cattle

Evenstar and I typically walked at our own comfortable pace which meant I would pull ahead, then she would catch up when I took a long break in the shade somewhere.

Late in the afternoon, I reached the fourth water cache. My initial plan had been to stop and camp somewhere near the water cache, but I revised it when I found a bucket with a note saying that there was trail magic 1.5 miles ahead. It seemed legit. Often times, I'd hear about trail magic ahead, but it was gone or ran out before I arrived, and Evenstar said that she wasn't going to get her hopes up until she actually saw it.

I believed in the trail magic because of this bucket. I figured whoever was providing trail magic would have retrieved it before leaving if the trail magic was gone. Evenstar wasn't going to get her hopes up, though. She was more skeptical!

But I believed there was a good chance of it still being there because of the bucket. Whoever set up the trail magic probably would have retrieved the bucket after it had ended if it had, in fact, ended. Believing in the trail magic, I pushed onward. Hoping for trail magic, Evenstar did the same.

And a half hour later, I arrived near another road crossing where Apple had set up a trail magic rest stop. It was a slick setup that included a hexagonal sphere that provided shade and lightning protection, and he had a large ice chest with ice cold drinks. Oh, cold drinks! My hero! And shade! My hero! =)

A shady oasis!

It didn't even really matter what the drinks were. Anything cold in this dreadful heat was welcome! I wound up lounging around for about an hour during which time I drank two ice cold Cokes and a Gatorade.

Cold drinks weren't the only thing on the menu, however, as Apple also provided some food. I basically ate dinner here which consisted of two hot dogs, Cheetos and a small apple pie. Apple explained that his trailname came from his fondness of providing small apple pies to hikers. He often did trail magic for people on the Appalachian Trail and the Colorado Trail as well, and as it turned out, Evenstar remembered meeting him before during her own thru-hike on the AT.

Apple said he'd been waiting all day for thru-hikers but had only seen one earlier that morning. He was about ready to pack up and go for the night when he sent out a drone to check if there was anyone coming up the trail soon and discovered me taking a break under that last tree where I sat around for about two hours. According to Apple, almost everyone hiking the trail takes a break under that tree. =) He might not have realized that I was going to sit around under it for two hours, though, and reported only seeing me. I never noticed a drone watching me, but he must have used it before Evenstar had caught up with me since he didn't know she was coming.

Anyhow, I was quite happy running into him. =) We weren't there for long before more hikers started arriving. Sprite and Paddles caught back up, this time with their friend, Guru. And not far behind them came Fraggles and Tumbleweed. It was quite the party!

A photo of me with Apple, while I was eating one of his trail-famous apple pies. =)

When I first arrived at the site, I planned to stop here for the night. After all, I got my needed miles in by the time I reached the water cache 1.5 miles back. But then all these other hikers arrived and it started feeling a little too crowded for me. They all seemed nice enough, but after more than 3 or 4 people, it started feeling a little too crowded. I didn't really want to be camped among such a large group.

Neither did Evenstar, so eventually the two of us picked up our packs and pushed onward. We didn't go far, though, mostly just wanting a quieter camping experience. I found a nice place to set up camp, and I assumed that Evenstar would join me when she arrived, but she decided to push on even further and passed me by. 

Which was fine--it just meant that I didn't need to use my earbuds while watching Netflix shows tonight. I could be as loud as I wanted. =)

When I took off my shoes and socks, I was surprised to discover a small blister on the long toe of my left foot. Where did that come from?! I hadn't even felt a hot spot when it was forming. At least it didn't hurt, but now I was left trying to think of a name for the blister. I thought I'd somehow avoid them on this trip since I was starting slow so I hadn't started the trail with a plan for naming blisters.

I was shocked--shocked, I tell you!--when I discovered this small blister on my foot. I hadn't felt any problems with my foot and had absolutely no idea it was there until I took my shoes and socks off at the end of the day.

I liked the idea of using local landmarks of wherever I was located when the blister formed, and the idea popped into my head that I could call it Apple. He was the last major landmark I saw before discovering the blister, after all, but it felt somehow wrong to name a blister after such a nice trail angel.

But the name appealed to me for a second reason--it started with the letter A. I liked the idea of naming my blisters like hurricanes. The next blister would start with a B, then a C, and so on. If I went with a fruit-themed naming system, I could call my blisters Apple, Banana, Cranberry, etc. I liked that idea.

So, apologies to Trail Angel Apple, but I named my blister Apple. =)

And that was the end of my fourth day on the trail.....

Evenstar and I play some shadow games at a road crossing early in the morning.

Evenstar looks out over the trail ahead. She doesn't seem excited or inspired by the barren terrain. Or maybe it's just that her feet are so sore from blisters.

Often times, there wasn't any real trail to follow. You just aimed for those signs in the distance.

Giant tires were often used as a way to supply water for cattle.

This particular tire hosted a hive of bees!

Bzzz! Bzzz!

It's a bird nest! Cool!

Salt lick for cattle

Another rare, shady place for a rest. I probably spent about an hour enjoying the shade here. =)

I imagine the person who put this up realizing it was upside-down after he finished and thought, "Well, crap. Ah, who cares? They can still tell they're on the right track!"

Evenstar and I enjoy a little shade. I spent about two hours under this tree. When I started, I set up at the edge of the shadow so when the sun moved, I'd stay in the shadow. Evenstar is beginning to move into the sun, though, and is putting her shoes and socks back on to continue hiking.

The fourth water cache

Shiny, reflective umbrellas were very popular on the desert portion of the trail. I could see Evenstar's shiny umbrella a mile away!

After it got dark, I had an unexpected nocturnal visitor.


Michael said...

If I open up most pictures in my browser, they come out negative. What sorcery is Ryan doing?

Cecilia57 said...

Day 4 - best post ever! Glad to meet Evenstar!

Karolina said...

The upsidedown CDT board looks like a smiley ;->