The next day was long, hard, hot, humid and sweaty. Even though my backpack should have felt much lighter, with just a few days of food left, it felt heavy to me. I had no energy.
The trail took me through more pastures full of cattle, which was a pick-me-up. I find the pastures to be very beautiful and serene. The grasses always smell so sweet, but I’m not sure why. I saw some cow patties that I was sure were laid by dinosaurs! They were huge!
I had heard two rumors that concerned me. 1) Thunderstorms were on their way. 2) The shelter I was headed to for that night is a ‘party shelter’.
I did not feel well on this day. Hiking was a struggle. The skies started to look more and more menacing, and the air was so hot, thick and humid.
All I could think about was setting up my tent and getting inside! When I finally got there, people were arriving back from the inexpensive shuttle ride to the Walmarts, and they were loaded down with spirits. I left my backpack at the shelter and went up to the visitor center to use the toilet–real, genuine flush toilets! There was a sink with running water and I washed my hands with soap and then rinsed my face, neck and arms. There was a sign on the door telling hikers not to bathe in the sinks. I hope I didn’t break the rules. I also went inside the visitor center and got a soda out of the vending machine.
When I went back down beyond the shelter to set up my tent, I saw that Gray Goose and her husband had arrived and had taken one of the choicest tent spots. I was thinking it might be best to let the rain pass over and then set my tent up, but the more I talked to people, it began to sound like the rain was going to be a long-term event.
As I looked for a good tent Spot, I saw Cowbell. He is always a nice, friendly face. He is always smiling. He is sort of one of those big Teddy Bear kind of guys. I think he got his trail name because he kind of looks like Will Ferrell in the Saturday Night Live ‘More Cowbell’ skit. What do you think?
He bought this outfit for the Trail Days Hiker Parade. His son thru hiked last year, and is coming to pick up Cowbell to take him back to Damascus for Trail Days.
Cowbell bought wine and offered me some, but I declined. He gave me the other half of the footlong meatball sub he had bought earlier…said he was too full to eat the rest. Said he bought it before going into the Walmarts. He didn’t want to go shopping when he was hungry. Smart move! I have seen what his food bag looks like! 😳
Thank you, Cowbell! What a treat that was! Gray Goose and hubby took him up on the offer of wine, and they were soon joined by others outside their tent.
I was so tired. I filled up a ziplock with water and used my bandana to clean myself up as best I could. Then, social isolate that I am, I ate the meatball sub in my tent (wolfed it down, actually) and chased it with my soda. Then, I put in my earplugs and was asleep before it was dark!
It drizzled most of the night, but thankfully, my tent floor never got wet. I packed up quickly in the morning. I was not on the trail more than an hour before it started to rain. It rained all the way until I reached town! I hiked about 4 hours in the rain!
As I was walking in the rain in my rain jacket with my hood on, I saw a guy coming toward me. He stared at me and said, “I think I know you. Did you hike in 2016? I’m Far Gone. Do you remember me?” Yes, I did, and I was freaked out that he recognized me…said he recognized my eyes. 😳 We stood there in the pouring rain talking for about 5 minutes. He was doing a section hike going the opposite direction this time. We said goodbye, and hiked on. Weird!
About 3 miles before I reached town, I came upon one of my favorite trail sites from my last hike–a one room school house built in the 1800’s. The local United Methodist Church had sent up Trail Magic there. It was pouring down rain by that time. I was grateful to get out of the rain. There were snacks, sodas and all sorts of things hikers might need.
There were some tents set up on the lawn, and while I was eating snacks, Natty Daddy came inside to eat his breakfast. We talked for a while and then I headed back out in the rain, and well…you know the rest. I slipped and fell in the mud, too. I was never so glad to get to a place that was out of the rain, and where I could take a hot shower and get cleaned up and dried out!