Monday, July 11, 2022

Day 117: The Lord Giveth and Taketh Away

August 15: The problem with using a church as a hotel becomes obvious when Sunday rolls around. It gets a lot more use! And because the church needed the use of the room we had camped in meant that us hikers were expected to vacate the premises by 8:00am. Still totally worth a free night, but a bit inconvenient for those who didn't want to get up particularly early. All of us piled out of the church just a few minutes before the 8:00am bell rang. (Okay, before the metaphorical bell rang.)

See the southbound thru-hiker heading down the road?

With most establishments still closed, there wasn't much of anything for me to do in town and I needed to get back on the trail anyhow. I decided to walk toward the far edge of town--nearly two miles away--and hitch a ride. At the edge of town, all of the cars leaving town would be heading in my direction. Fewer false positives! If I tried hitching a ride from the church, there was a good chance that 9 out of 10 vehicles driving by were just going somewhere within the town. 

So I walked about a half hour to the edge of town at which point a vehicle pulled over precisely as I reached my hitching point! Absolutely zero waiting around for a ride, which was a pleasant surprise because there wasn't very much traffic to begin with and it took me over an hour to actually get a ride into town.

My driver was a tourist from Texas, who explained that he was on a spontaneous adventure after having taken zero vacations for the last three years while working in real estate. He couldn't wrap his head around how I had so much time as to hike for several months across the backbone of America. I'm not sure I'd count it as a "true" vacation, however, since he did get a call during the drive and appeared to be working remotely.

He dropped me off at the trailhead where I left two days earlier just as two other hikers were being dropped off as well by another driver. They were both southbounders that I had met earlier in the hostel and we chatted for another 10 minutes or so before going in our separate directions.

On the trail again!

The first mile or so, there wasn't much of a trail to follow and I depended heavily on my GPS to stay on track. After those first couple of miles, however, the route became a real trail and the GPS was no longer needed.

The rest of the day, I only passed two southbound thru-hikers on the trail. That left me scratching my head a bit. It seemed like there were a dozen or more southbounders in town. Where were they all coming from if they weren't on the trail, though? In any case, I felt pretty certain that I had passed the majority of the southbounders at this point. They were definitely thinning out. It only seemed like a week or two earlier that I saw my first southbounder.

A bit further down the trail, the trail joined a gravel road for a short while. Along the way, I passed a camper van parked on the side of the road and as I walked by, a couple poked their heads out and asked if I'd like a fresh, hot biscuit. They'd been cooking breakfast and although I wasn't particularly hungry having eaten breakfast already just a couple of hours earlier, I was happy to take a hot biscuit. =)

After a few hours, the trail--which was technically an alternate since a new trail bypassed this section--reconnected with the main red-line CDT.

The day's hike was largely uneventful. There were two creeks I had to ford. At the second and last one of the day, I planned to camp on the far side of the bank after crossing the river. Let my shoes dry out a bit during the night before having to put them back on in the morning.

Fresh bear tracks were reported along the river banks.

On the near side of the creek, a family had already set up camp and reported that there was a lot of bear activity in the area. They'd seen bear prints all around the edges of the river while fishing. When I asked if they caught anything, they said yes, and that they gutted the fish in the river. Because, you know, a bear would never be attracted to a gutted fish. Although to be fair, it was probably better to gut it in the water where the blood and guts would wash downstream rather than on land were it wouldn't get washed away.

They also told me that they had guns to protect themselves from bears. At least I knew if a bear attacked me during the night, my cries for help could be heard by them and they might come running to my rescue with guns blazing.

All the same, I decided to secure my Ursack well away from my campsite and cooked dinner a couple of hundred feet away from my campsite as well. No reason to take unnecessary chances when there are definitely bears in the immediate vicinity!

Very smoky and hazy skies today! (The camper van where the couple gave me a hot biscuit is that vehicle up the road.)

Brooks Lake

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