Another crazy rainstorm last night that woke me up around 145 in the morning. I closed the doors on the right side of my tent and kept one of the left doors open. I think I lucked out in terms of the wind because everything in my tent stayed dry while the rain battered it for at least an hour. I had trouble falling back asleep, but managed to get a few more hours before waking up around 530. I could hear other people stirring and I saw little headlamp below the edge of my tent doors, so I crawled out of my tent and had breakfast with Halfway, Chrissy and Frontpocket. Halfway has worked in park services for a long time and lives in southern Utah where there’s no cell service, so he doesn’t have a cell phone. Instead he uses his gadget, aka iPod.
It was a brisk and breezy morning, which is lovely for hiking and a little less lovely for packing up a wet tent. But my hands seem to do OK and they warmed up pretty quickly after setting off. I’m going to have to buy some honey or cinnamon for my breakfast because for some reason it’s justkind of bland.
About 20 minutes after leaving camp, I heard a loud squawking overhead and looked up to find a pair of pileated woodpeckers land in the trees towering over me. They’re so prehistoric looking and have very jaunty movements. I watched them for a minute until they flew out of sight.
The first few miles this morning took me through beautiful, lush section forest. The breeze was frequent and cool, and my favorite white flower stretched to lengths of nearly 3 feet along either side of the trail. This combined with the wet earth from last nights storm made for a very fragrant walk. *apparently that plant is an invasive mustard, which is sad, but I still love smelling it. I also crossed several happy little streams with morning light angling through the trees.
A few miles later, I hit Pinegrove furnace State Park, which is a beautiful little park with wide green fields, two different’s piped water sources, dozens of picnic tables, and a flat shady walk towards the eastern end of the park where I hit 100 miles. It was a long gradual climb leaving the state park boundary. Thankfully today involved a lot of shade until the last couple of miles. I accidentally took the wrong trail to get to the overlook at pole steeple, so Jimmy (“moving target”) and I bushwhacked our way towards the proper trail using the guthook satellite option. Moving Target is part of an existing trail family that I’ve been hanging out with the last couple of days. He has chickens! At home in southern Illinois. Anyway, we got to the overlook and were rewarded with jagged rocks and this view:
After the overlook, we stopped for first lunch. The breeze was phenomenal today and there were fast moving clouds against a bright blue sky all day. Perfect hiking weather. And also the day my legs decided to revolt. I noticed a tiny twinge in my left shin, near the front of my ankle when jimmy and I were heading to our lunch spot. Shortly after that, the twinge turned into a knife and stayed sharp for the remainder of the walk, which was an unfortunate 4.5 more miles to the road crossing where we planned to get picked up for our town stay. I’ve had that pain during runs so I wasn’t worried at first, but it kept getting sharper. I stopped to massage my shin muscles and the muscle that lifts your foot. I stretched my calves. Eventually I got smart and put kinesiology tape on the muscle. That helped more than I expected, but not enough to walk at a regular pace and not enough to stave off the misery. So THIS is what happens when you don’t take a zero (aka a day of no hiking in trail lingo) and you walk 100 miles in 9 days. I tried really hard not to judge myselfand to let go of the failure thoughts with varying degrees of success. Breathing and engaging my core and imagining lifting my foot with other muscles in my leg also helped a lot. The magic of imagery. It also helped that Chrissy, another member of the trail family, slowed her pace because of her own foot issues, so I had her in sight for most of the last 3 miles. Here’s her stylin way of drying her tent during the day:
After what felt like FOREVER, we reached the road crossing where one of the caretakers for the inn came to pick us up. 5 smelly hikers piled into her mercury grand marquis and somehow the tallest guy ended up in the middle front seat. When we got to the inn, we all set about exploding our packs in search of laundry and things that need organizing. There were showers (oh showers. how I love you) and I iced my shin and took aleve and started to reconcile with the idea of leaving this fun little band of misfits so I can actually rest, whatever that means. Then came the plate of nachos the size of a football. I didn’t drink any beer given the muscle revolt already in progress. The woman tending bar talked to us about how much she admires what we’re doing, and I said that she (and the inn) were part of what make our experiences better. I asked halfway what he thinks about while he’s hiking. He said he has a running soundtrack in his head and often thinks about all the people in his life who are making this possible while trying to pay attention to how he’s moving his body. He has issues with his Achilles’ tendons.
Before the cheese coma fully set in, we took a rousing trip to family dollar where I bought a “boonie hat” (aka a dweeby wide brimmed hat) for $6 and important interim items until we get to a real grocery store (aka peanut butter and Fritos). Then we had dinner around the corner. I ordered a salad that was gigantic and cost a whopping $8 including the added avocado. There was a lot of silliness care of too much sun and the happy exhaustion of walking for hours. Now I’m laying in a bed the size of Oklahoma and trying to accept the message I’m getting to slow down.
*real time update in case this post sounded too sad: the majority of the group also took a zero day, so I have gotten rest and will continue to enjoy their company for the foreseeable future.
Mileage undisclosed for the moment
Creature feature: the pileated woodpeckers mentioned above were really the highlight of the day. Oh! And what I believe was a pair of goldfinches in pine grove furnace park. They were sitting on a branch and it looked like the male was feeding the female something. I supposed they could also have been a type of warbler. I’m bad at this game.