Flailing and I were out by 7 am that morning, pushing hard towards the next shelter 8 mIles away. The small roller coaster terrain led through a beautiful fern Forrest before giving way to challenging climbs and technical trails. Coming upon a lone south boulder we said hello before convincing him he was walking north. For a few moments he was upset, thinking he had walked two mile sin the wrong direction. We told him to join us before telling him the truth, we had to bust his chops a bit. He was going the wrong way, his north was broken.
The first 8 mIles felt like twenty for me, my brain was on board but my legs were not. Each step for me was labored and strenuous, requiring more and more effort to push on. I was ready to hike but I was my own worst enemy. My body was failing me this day and I found it hard to push on, to push past the soreness and keep moving. Each time we stopped I became stiff and swollen, my right knee losing its range of motion under constant strain. I would have to stretch more often if this got worse I thought. For now vitamin I would have to suffice, we had way more to go
Coming down off the ridge Flailing and I were faced with a sheer climb down with no safety ropes or handles. We would have to freehand our way down over three hundred feet of elevation. The steps, flimsy and loose provided us with no comfort as we climbed down. Slow and tedious we made our way down the zip zag maze of rocks to the ground floor. Here we found a huge group of kids climbing the rock face with harnesses and helmets. Looking at each other we had the same thought, so they get safety equipment and we get nothing. That is the way of the trail, adventure and risks.
Following his direction we took off down the road. After about 20 minutes we hadn’t seen a blaze and asked a passerby if we were heading in the right direction, nope we weren’t. Great we had just walked about a mile in the wrong direction, turning around we walked back to the trail head and back down the opposite way. Here we met Pockets and he informed us his parents were just ahead and they could tell us where they were cooking for the night. Trail magic, awesome we were so excited, all we could think about was Gatorade. Running into his parents we chatted briefly before they gave us the keys to the car and said to have what we needed when we got there.
Just like that we were off again back down the trail, with only one thought, Gatorade. The next 5 miles of flat trail took their toll on us as we noticed our dehydration set in. Tired, hot, and thirsty we stuck the course and trodded down the trail. The smooth flat trail running along the river see was a sweet serene scene for a change. The cool air gave way to a nice breeze and refreshed our hot bodies. Crossing the next road we saw a familiar face in the distance waving aft us. Earthling was waving us over to grab our attention in her direction. Following her we reached the car, broke out Gatorade’s and rested till everyone else arrived.
Pockets family soon came and cooked up a feast of chicken, roast beef, brats and dogs, and all sorts of fixings. We were in heaven stuffing our faces. The whole gang chatting and laughing as lone hikers joined us. The evening couldn’t have gotten any better till I fond out some old friends of mine were coming too. Towards the end of the night, I was surprised to see Girlscout and the gang. Running over to me she squealed and jumped into my arms, she says definitely happy to see me, I was happy to see her too. We didn’t have long to catch up before she was swamped by her friends and I was off back up the trail to set up camp.
Pushing out the last mile to the campground I found Earthling and T Storm already setting up. Becoming lost in conversation about how I was feeling down, Earthling and I discussed our own take on how we each felt. I wasn’t the only one who had lost the drive to push on. She was down and it had hit her hard, hiking alone for so long can do that to you. We talked for an hour before getting ready for bed. Flailing and the others finally strode into camp as we settled down and planned our hike out for the next day.