Location- Near creek
Elevation- 5,991 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 21.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,350.4 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 90s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- feeling highly capable
Days without shower- 1
Good grief what another fantastic day.
I slept in and didn’t get out of bed until a quarter after 8am. After throwing on my dirty clothes, I walked down to the post office and picked up the antibiotics my girlfriend sent me. Then I walked to the hardware store and browsed around, then to the sporting goods store, then all the way across town to the Dollar General where I picked up some buzz clippers, then down to subway where I had a huge breakfast flatbread sandwich. After all that, I walked back across town to my room and shaved off my beard and hair. I felt a slight pang of regret, but I also felt 10 pounds lighter, 15 years younger, and 50% more aerodynamic.
Looking through my phone, I took only that one picture from the town. I was slacking
Adhering to my “smell the roses” clause, I rode my checkout time all the way to the end, then had lunch at a local joint next door called “The Knot Bumper.” I spent nearly 24 hours in Chester, and managed to walk across the entire town twice, visit some of the locally owned stores, and eat at 3 locally owned restaurants, the other two being “The Locker Room,” and “The Copper Kettle.” All excellent.
While eating at the Knot Bumper, the woman serving me, who I think was also the owner asked me to tell her a story from the trail. While I have dozens and dozens of stories, it’s so hard to pick one out of thin air and tell it to a stranger on the spot, and have it mean anything to them; I was at a loss. So she changed her question. “Why do you do it?” (Hike the trail). This one actually gets asked quite a bit, and it’s never a simple answer for anyone. I used to try and explain how it was about the freedom, etc, etc; but then I got tired of that and started telling people “because food tastes better” (when you hike long distance). For some reason, this time an answer came to me almost right away; an answer that I could be happy with, but was also short and sweet. “Because tomorrow I’ll wake up in a place I’ve never been…and the next day, and the next day, and the next.” The woman confessed that she’d like to do something like a thru hike at some point, and I immediately responded “Do it! Just do it! Make it your priority and go.”
Will she ever? I hope so, but so many people that could, never will, simply because of their fear of the unknown. Leaving behind that safety blanket of their routine and familiar life. If you’re going to fly, you have to take the leap at some point…
I began hitching a little after noon, and scored a ride with a middle aged forestry worker named John after about 15 mins. We mostly talked about forest fires during the short trip back to the trail.
There was another hiker at the trail head when I got there, and I spent about 10 mins chatting with him. During our chat, I learned that it was BBQ night at a ranch/campground about 19 miles ahead, about half a mile off the trail. Could I make lightning strike thrice on good food today, and still hike respectable miles? Only one way to find out.
I probably took over an hour’s worth of breaks in the 90+ degree heat, tackled two big, steep climbs over 1,000 feet, and still rolled into Drakesbad Ranch at 7:03 pm; 18.9 miles in the bag.
There were dozens of car camping families and cabin dwellers at this remote getaway, and the food was laid out buffet style. For 15 bucks, I ate watermelon, coleslaw, corn, hamburger, hotdog, braats, grilled portobello mushroom, grilled squash, baked potato, and sweet tea (I sweetened it myself). All scrumptious.
I finished up, made conversation with a few other thru hikers that had stopped in, as well as some guests, then decided to hit the trail again around 8pm. I could have camped nearby, but there were just too many people for my taste. Also, there was a steep 800 foot climb just ahead of me with a nice creek on the other side; a perfect place to camp, only a little less than 3 miles away. I could knock out the climb now, then not have to worry about it tomorrow morning.
So I set off into the evening, the forest already thick with deer. I took it leisurely, and reached the creek just as dark was setting in around 9.
I’ve been enjoying myself immensely since hiking solo out of Tahoe. I thought I’d be miserable without my dog and friend (I kinda have been), but I’ve developed a new style of hiking that’s really working for me. I hike hard and fast, go into every town and side attraction on the trail, take my time, smell the roses, leave when it feels right, hike hard to the next thing, then repeat. I have a fantastic pace going, and I’m still covering more ground, going into more places, and spending more time in them than the people I’m passing.
I’m mulling over a new trail name for myself; Kokomo Boy; because I’m “gonna get there fast, and then take it slow.” Gotta love The Beach Boys.
No solid plans for tomorrow, other than to go big and play it by ear. In 23 miles I’ll have a 30 mile stretch without water, so I’ll have to plan accordingly. We’ll see what the day brings…