Day 21: 

I woke up at 4:48 to the sound of angel snoring like a cartoon character. He was 3 feet away on the windowsill cushion (his choice over the floor). He stopped a few minutes after I woke up, and, as if we wee in a sitcom, halfway started up the instant angel stopped. I managed to fall back asleep until about 645 when jimmy opened the curtains, flooding the room (and my eyeballs) with sunshine. 
We went down to the lobby for breakfast. I decided to bring my own food down in an attempt to lighten my pack any way I can. Scored another banana, which I will pack of for tomorrow’s breakfast (thus negating the weight I ate, but it’s worth it). Halfway and I were walking around like zombies. He looked as tired as I felt. We all went back up to the room and set about fussing with our gear, packing, and preparing our feet. I have a prescribed set of spots that I tape to prevent hot spots that lead to blisters. Knock on wood, it’s working really well so far. I finished getting ready early and decided to ice my ankle and my feet. I tweaked a muscle in the outside of my ankle yesterday and it felt really stiff this morning. My feet were also kind of puffy, so I took advantage of access to the ice machine. 

Around 9, a trail angel named Ryan (I think?) picked us up in the parking lot. We were on strict orders to leave by 9 because he had to get to church by 930 and he had to go pick up someone to give them a ride to church. Ryan is probably in his late 70s and he shuttles people all over the county. He told us he takes a woman to work because her car got totaled and she can’t buy a new one yet. 

We got dropped off at the main intersection in Port Clinton where we ran into a couple that chrissy met during the flip flop festival. Tall, German Adonis looking folk who were incredibly sweet and likely hike 5 times faster than me. We were talking to them when an older gentleman named Don drove up with Ryan, who we stayed at the hostel with (forgive me for all the names and people, but this is what the forever rotating cast of characters is like). Don proceeded to jump out of his car and offer us a range of advice and food. He even offered us fresh scallions. At one point, he pulled out a bag of scallions, pulled one out, bit off the end and spit it out and then ate the scallion raw to show us how great they were. He wanted us all to take one to jumpstart our hike. I had to draw the line at that, but I did take a weird tuna packet even though my pack is unreasonably heavy today because it’s hard to say no to Don. I have a sneaking suspicion he’s gay and I wish zach had been around to confer gaydars. I wondered what it would be like to be a gay man in that community. There was something about the way he looked at me and held eye contact that fueled my theory, but I’ll never know. 

After much talking, don finally let us go, and we set off in a large group. I really should have put my pack down while don held his food extravaganza because by the time we started walking, I had been standing with it on for about 40 minutes. 

We had beautiful weather today. After the first little hill, I shed my rain jacket and by 11am I was down to short sleeves. There was leg burning climb out of port clinton.

Followed by a nice walk along the ridge. Only a few boulder hopping sections today, but a couple of long gradual descents that made for tired quads. The woods were filled with older trees and there were pockets of bird song and the occasional stream crossing. I saw a total of 13 lady slippers today. Wonder what is about Pennsylvania that they love so much. 

I stopped for lunch by Furnace Creek around 1245. it seemed to be a popular intersection with a lot of day hikers passing through. At first I was confused by the volume of people, but then I remembered it’s Sunday and mothers day to boot. Don’s Gifted tuna packet made for a strange wrap. I definitely won’t be buying the Santa Fe sauce version of that ever. Blech. There was a nice flat stretch after the creek that eventually transitioned into a loooong but gradual climb up to pulpit rock (header pic for today). Angel and jimmy were there when I arrived and were still buzzing about the two giant rat snakes they had seen in a nearby tree. 

Jimmy moved on and I sat with angel and ate a snack until it started to drizzle. As I was moving my pack, the wind picked up and we got a 45 second hail storm. So confusing. And thankfully over as quickly as it started, but it cooled me off enough that I had to keep walking. The trip from there to the pinnacle was surprisingly flat, but there were a few menacing boulder sections. 

Here’s the view from the pinnacle. The ridge on the left part of the frame is the mountain range for the northbound trail. 

I found jimmy sunning himself on a rock like a snake. He seemed half asleep when I dropped my pack next to him and pulled out yet another snack. It was about 430 and we still had over 5 miles to our destinations so I didn’t stick around long. The trail leading north from the pinnacle was a soggy mess for about 2 miles. Then it switched to a peaceful fire road or hunting road since we were on state game lands. Jimmy and chrissy passed me and I didn’t even try to keep up. We got rained on for about 15 minutes. I was tired and didn’t bother pulling out my raincoat. I was also not excited about getting to camp so late in the evening. But there was a striking view through the trees of the valley and the closest mountain and cascading streams to pull me back into the present. 

Around mile 14, my left shin started to tell me about all the ways I hadn’t paid enough attention to it today. I stopped and stretched and proceeded at a slower pace, telling myself that it didn’t matter how long it took me to get to camp. It never flared up to the point of stabbing, but I can tell I’ve over done it a bit. 

I hit the road for eckville shelter around 7 and walked along the shoulder to the house. The bunk room was full, so I tented across the street with Jimmy, angel, halfway, and the sleek athletic couple i met in port clinton. They brought us trail magic! I couldn’t resist the orange treat. 

The caretaker, who has a reputation for being cantankerous, was none too happy about their trail magic (the prospect of extra trash). I can’t blame him for being cranky because I can only imagine the shenanigans he has to put with when the northbound bubble hits this neck of the woods. I spoke to him briefly when I got water at the side of the house and he seemed friendly enough if you kept it short. Works for me. 

I forced myself to set up my tent and put my bed together before losing steam. I didn’t eat dinner until about 830, which is way too late. At that point, i honestly don’t care about food, but I know it’s important, so I ate anyway. Then everyone peeled off to their tents. Now I’m sitting at the side of the caretakers house, charging my phone in the dark while I write this. The wind is picking up and the temperature is dropping, so I should retire to the warmth of my sleeping bag. 
Mile 1217.6 to mile 1232.6 (15)

Total miles: 229.4 
Creature feature: saw another garter snake and a ring neck snake, which was a wee little guy who slithered about so quickly. Not much else besides a zillion birds chattering in the woods and buzzards at the lookouts. 

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