A nice cool day of hiking happily lacking in drama.
I didn’t get the best night’s sleep as I apparently had chosen the wildlife equivalent of a shopping mall to camp in with a variety of animal noises nearby. After the bear had come by at dusk I left my tent fly doors open so I could see outside and kept my spare trekking pole to hand. I also kept my phone by my side so I could use its torch and kept a live music track paused on loud applause and cheering to play at maximum volume if needed. When it had got completely dark a deer ran right up to the tent, hooves pounding on the hard forest floor and turned away at the last minute. It was hard to relax and fall asleep and when I did my phone’s new position meant it got smothered by the sleeping bag so I didn’t hear the alarm and so slept in until 7am.
Anyway, finally hiking at 7:45 I covered about 600 yards before crossing a road and through a small parking lot, empty except for a tent in the corner and a young man sitting right in the middle, swaying slightly. Ok. Liam was camping in the car park with his “term brother” (a new term to me if that’s what he said) after attempting a section hike southbound from Dalton. They’d given up last night after finding it too tough. So they’d got completely bombed instead. Liam was friendly, just not quite with it. They were going to figure out how to get home today. I assume driving was not one of the options.
A couple miles later I was running out of water. I used the spring at Mount Wilcox South Shelter but it wasn’t exactly a good-looking source – small, shallow and leafy. But the water was cold and not yellow, a rare combination lately.
After 12 miles the trail crossed quiet Jerusalem road which had a notice chalked directly on the road telling hikers there were snacks 100 yards to the left. I investigated. There was a wooden shed which was an honesty stand. Two hard-boiled eggs and two cold sodas were duly consumed while relaxing on a bench and filtering water from a spring opposite, kindly made easily available via a hose pipe. Sweet deal.
A 1000′ climb followed but proved no problem with that combination of protein, sugar and caffeine inside me. In addition the chafing has died down and should be gone by tomorrow – cheers for the magic of zinc oxide cream, the WD40 of the cream world. And just to add to the pleasantness the day cannot have got above 25c (77f) which is perfect. All my clothes were dry at the end of the day!
Having made my target miles by 5:30pm I took the first stealth spot I found. Dark is coming earlier and earlier now. Just recently it was usefully light at 9pm even when the headline sunset time was 8:40pm but now it is pretty dark in the woods by 8:10 and dead dark by 8:30. It won’t be long before I’ll have to adjust my day’s schedule to account for this and start earlier.