Fern Clyffe Campground to just before Dutchman Lake
It really only sprinkled once more that evening and remained dry for the rest of the night. Finally our tarps were dry as well as our shoes! Such small things become giants when your day consists of walking and sleeping. We didn’t rush to leave and had the luxury of pit toilets and pump water that really reduced our morning chores.
We packed up and saw the rangers driving up the lane, so we walked out to pay him our $8 fee. He was working with Jeff, so that gave us a chance to reconnect with both he and Renita once more. They checked out our gear with piqued curiosity, we answered more trail questions and we talked about kids and parenting again. It was a lovely way to leave Fern Clyffe.
When we first entered the campground, it was through a then empty site. We had to tramp back in, but it was occupied and we made our apologies as we approached. I’m so glad we did, because it turned out to be another hiker, Nick, and his wonderful dog who are hiking the American Discovery Trail. The ADT travels the entire US from coast to coast. And follows the River to River Trail for a good stretch. He left in early march and hikes an impressive 15 – 20 miles a day. He says he will need to stop in Denver because he’s heard that you cannot pass the Rockies past July. He will look for seasonal work and the. Hike on once the trail open up again. This is his first backpacking experience, which is an unusual choice for an inaugural trip. I asked him why this trail, and he said he was looking to move across country anyway and thought this would be more fun.
We heartily agreed and pushed on for our own adventures. There was maybe a mile or so of forest left before we were back to road walking. In spite of the increased pain involved in road walking, it is a lot faster and now that it’s sunny, we’re getting full use of the Goal Zero solar panel to charge our phones and backup batteries.
We traveled maybe a mile of back road before coming to highway 37. This is a fast moving road with many large trucks and an unfriendly shoulder. I was nervous and trying to be extra cautious as we walked. (And always facing oncoming traffic so that both parties have the chance to see and react appropriately in a timely manner). About halfway down our stretch, my right ankle rolled out from under me and I pitched forward. I fell to my knees hard, the. My hands and with the weight and momentum of my pack – it smacked my forehead into the pavement and I heard it clunk. I quickly grabbed my poles and water bottle that had skittered into the road and sat down in the shoulder and shouted for Arbor.
He came over, initially concerned that I had hurt my ankle, but then I cried and told him what happened. He looked concerned and said, “Oh Tau” in a worried and sympathetic voice. He pulled my buff over my wound and I asked him to help me up so we could get off the highway.
We marched forward the rest of the way and turned onto a back road and looked for the next shaded and non poison ivy covered spot. There we dressed the wound and I took some pain meds. I was already feeling better and was marveling at my own ability to keep pressing onward. I guess I didn’t know I had it in me.
We still had several miles ahead of us and we walked on and on. I don’t know if it was from the fall, but I had a twinge in my back for the rest of the day, that really made everything harder. My head was fine, but my back kept pulling my attention and tested my endurance.
Finally we made it back to the woods and found ourselves in a lovely pine forest. It smells so amazing and we joked about being in the source material for a Pine-sol commercial. It would be lovely to hang our hammocks there, but there are just too many dead branches overhead and I just cannot feel entirely safe. Fortunately, just after the pines was the perfect grove of trees wight the leaf litter that keeps the ivy away.
We setup and it was only 3:00! Even better, we had a cell signal so we whiled the extra hours on social media and loved the small chance to plug back into the world.
Since the highlight of my day was an injury, let me segue into the condition of my feet! I currently have 4 blisters that have been with me since nearly the beginning. All of the time I’ve read hiking blogs and seen the photos and heard the stories, I worried that blister pain would make a trip like this an impossibility. Funnily enough, I know the blisters are there and occasionally thriving the day they will flare up just to remind me they exist – but really they don’t bother me at all. Who knew?!
I have also developed an odd condition that some hiker forums call a Christmas Toe. My big toes have gone numb and are staying that way. The saying goes, “Hike in the summer, feel your toes again at Christmas!” At first it was a disturbing non feeling, but im used to it now and don’t notice at all.
My shoes have been great and I’m sure they are part of the equation in my blister indifference. Unfortunately, they are already developing holes. Nick showed us his beat up shoes earlier and told us he was getting replacements in Makanda. His largest holes were in the same spot mine are developing. He really believes that it’s the crazy uneven surfaces of the horse trails that are doing a number in our shoes at that point.
That’s all for today and our trails and tribulations. I’ve eaten an excellent dinner of pumpkin soup and I going to read more Watership Down before going to bed early and starting all over again tomorrow.