River to River Trail – Day 23

High Knob Campground to wilderness before E-town
9.71 + miles

I slept well and was grateful for the rest.  Our devices were all fully charged as well, and that was a real boon.  We made our oatmeal and coffee and reflected on the time ahead of us.  One more night in the woods and two days of hiking left.  It was surreal to think we were so close to being done.

We worked our way over to the camp office, where all the men in the neighborhood came to drink JoJo’s free coffee and talk about the events of the time.  They are also  a bunch of practical jokers, and pulled a fast one on JoJo’s husband who was away in Michigan.  We joined in the conversations when we could, and as always when the talk of our trip came up, people asked about snakes.  We showed our photos and they told us we’d seen a chicken snake and a common grass snake.

I snuggled on the dogs some more and then we said our goodbyes.  JoJo have us warm hugs and blessings and we walked up the hill to high knob.  It’s a half mile straight up, but we were heartened by the knowledge that after that climb, everything else would trend downhill. It was also a perfect day.  The rain the day before made the temps bearable, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It made me extra glad we’d stayed instead of driving on in the rain.

We enjoyed the view up at high knob, ate our second breakfast and Arbor was able to catch enough signal to Instagram and text the kids.  I think my life proof case blocks my reception enough when the signal is weak, and I’m just out of luck. It just means I get to conserve my battery life more anyway.

Most of the rest of the day was following old forest service roads through some of her ugliest parts of the trail yet.  JoJo talked about the 18 mile climb demoralizing folks, but I now think it’s combined with the uninspiring landscape as well.  If you don’t know that hints will get vastly better, it’s hard to imagine the trail is worth it.

*not* a creek crossing – this is the trail

this is a dryish creek crossing

We had a long day before us since we stopped short of our goal the might before.  It ended up being rather grueling with lots of tall weeds and bush whacking, plus the trail was terribly muddy from the storm, so we didn’t escape with dry feet.  We had four major creek crossings and several smaller ones as well.  We managed to keep our shoes on for all but the last, but didn’t always keep our feet dry in spite of trying.  

The last creek crossing was .87 miles before the campsite notes in the Voigt’s book, so we needed to load up on water there for the night and the following day.  I was rather worn out by then, and made my displeasure known.  This had the I intended effect of causing Arbor to worry about me and trying to hurry things along.  We filtered and packed up, and in his haste, he left the filter hanging on the tree, but put the full bladders in his pack.

We hiked on to the campsite, and it was just a large gravel circle without even any trees just along its border.  While it could do for a tent camper (though you’d need an air mattress I’d imagine), it wouldn’t work for us.  We pushed on and it was after that that Arbor realized we’d left the filter.  I turned to head back, but Arbor said he was going to leave his pack where we stood and go back to collect it.  I don’t like leaving packs unattended, so would need to stay with them.  He said we could find a better spot for me to wait, and that’s when we saw the hill with some leaf litter and decided that’s where we’d camp.  

We found trees and he left with his walking pole and a bottle of water and I set up my hammock and pulled my chair onto the path to write this post and wait for him to return.  I’m a natural worrier, so I’m doing my best to believe that it’s just a slog there and back, and nothing more.

At 7:15 I started to panic a little, and I walked up the path a ways and shouted his name three times as loud as I could, but heard no reply.  I didn’t want to leave everything behind, yet I had the worst scenarios running through my head.  I retreated to my hammock, because that’s the safest place I know, and I needed to get a grip of my wild imaginings.  I told myself that at 8:00 I would hit the trail with a headlamp and my emergency whistle.  

I was counting down the minutes when Arbor called out that he could see our area and I hollered back that I was so glad he wasn’t dead!  He got back to camp at 7:50.  He put up his hammock, forgoing his tarp and I made dinner.  We ate just as the sun was slipping under the horizon and then headed to bed to sleep our last night on the trail.


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