I hit the first view early in the morning, we should have stayed at this camp site but the other had too much appeal. This had beautiful views but it wasn’t as expansive as the shelter views. Breaking and checking my map I noticed if I pushed hard I could get 26 miles down for the day. Rest is crucial when you cover so much terrain, I’d have to be diligent about breaks and water if I was going to traverse two ridge lines. The view from that camp spot showed the terrain ahead for me, one ridge, a mountain and another ridgeline.
The view intimidating in its grand nature would have to be forgotten if I was going to power through it. Out of the open and back into the woods I went, grabbing water at the blue blazed trail. The rocky terrain wasn’t too bad as I moved swiftly across the ridge and down to the first gap. It was evident that the water had been scarce in that most of the sources had been dry. Is this something I need to worry about going forward I thought. The trail had been petty good till that first mountain.
Then it became rocky and steep, the switchbacks were not thier to help gain elevation. It was just a straight up and over, making the going slow and hot. Pushing hard I reached the top and headed back down to the next gap. Here I would walk along the river and pass by the semi famous Captains Place. I had been told that there was a gentleman who lived on the other side of the river and had a zip line over to his house. Here he would shelter hikers and do a small resupply for them. In no need of his services I past his signs and moved on quickly. This would be the end of the good terrain for the better part of the day.
Again 8 would find myself going straight up, up the side of the mountain with no switchbacks or sloped trails. Just the brutal climb I needed for the day to finish out a hard 26. The heat and the lack of water beckoned dehydration to come for me. Making my way to the shelter I found a water source, how lucky. I sat and drank two liters before filling up another two to head out the shelter. Walking up the short steep trail I found a kid sitting by himself there. This odd little kid looked more homeless than hiker, no facial hair, unkempt, and out of his element.
Ziggy as he would introduce himself was hiking the trail from Damascus north. He was proud that he had done the last twenty miles in three days. Looking at him I could tell there was more to the story. He had yellow blazed up here to catch the group and was finding himself outpaced. He had run out of money and food, telling me he was eating ketchup packets and pepper. Making himself a dry Ramen brick, he Wolfe it down in seconds. 8 felt bad, I had to eat and I had just resupplied the other day, so to him I must have tons of food, but in reality just enough to get me to the next town if I push hard.
He started to yogi for some of my food, which I knew was going to happen. Explaining I couldn’t spare a lunch but I could give him a snack or two he was grateful and so was I, I really couldn’t spare anything. Again he Wolfe down the fruit snacks like a starving animal. It was clear he was in dire straights and had bit off more than he could chew. Offereing me some of his weed I knew where his money had gone, to good times and not food. I packed up and left, wishing him well.
Back to the climb, but this time on switchbacks. Not wonderful ones, but rocky boulder ones. Each step had to be precisely placed and chosen in order to not fall and break an ankle or leg. I made no time on these rocks as I made my way to the summit, maybe a mile an hour. The terrain still remained rocky and overgrown with weeds and grass. This was horrible I was losing time and I was being beat to shit by the rocks. This went on for miles, passing an older couple who was having a harder time than I was, made me feel better. I felt better that I wasn’t the only one doing it tonight, not that they were having and hard time, but the I wasn’t the only one suffering through this today.
The rocks went for about 3 miles along the ridgeline, almost to the point of the barrier between the national forrest and state park. Here like in many states the trail changed immediately. It was like driving across state lines and finding the road overgrown, riddled with cracks and potholes immediately changed to a smooth clean well maintained road. The trail became smooth and what do my eyes see? Nice switchbacks on the ups. Pushing my self I knew I hadn’t much time left. Climbing to the only view for the day I met a couple, or should I say I ruined a moment.
They were perched up on the lookout talking to themselves when I showed up. I apologized for interrupting and snapped a few quick pictures before leaving and heading back up the trail. The low light was bringing many animals out and I would spy quite a few deer. None of which gave me any notice as they grazed 9n the soft grass. I stood there for a few minutes just watching one no more than twenty feet off eat and go about his nightly routine. Either they found it hard to see me or there was no hunting here.
I only hoped to get off before dark, I knew this wouldn’t be the case but hopefully I could make the decline. Nope, not a chance, I had to headlamp up as I flew over the terrain. For the next mile or so of flat ground I relished in it. The sights slowly disappeared into the dark and gave way to the three foot circle act my feet. Eventually I would start my descent and hurry over rocks and missing switchbacks to the ground. It seemed to go on forever for me, the 2000 foot decline never ending in the tired night. Even when the terrain finally became flat I hoped for the shelter more and more.
It would be too late for me to do anything by the time e I arrived at ten at night. I didn’t even change I just blew up my mattress and went right to sleep. Little did I know that I had left a candy bar wrapper in my pocket. The minibears or mice as they are also called had chewed a hole in my pants and had the fill in the night. I was too tired and sore in the morning to care, but I had done my marathon of miles over rocks, boulders, ridgelines and lack of water. My sense of achievement was more important than a hole.