Mile Marker 854.2
It rained overnight, but my tent was dry in the morning. Boy was I ever glad. I knew I had a long hike in front of me. I didn’t know how long it would take me. Even though I might know what the elevation changes will be, I never know what the terrain will be. If there are boulders to scramble or rocks that slow me down, it will take me longer to hike the miles. I didn’t want to get into camp and have to dry a wet tent before setting it up for the night.
I met a section Hiker named What’s The Rush…again…one of those gentle reminders that slap me in the face. We talked for a while, and I found out from him that the group of teenagers I had seen the night before were actually part of a larger group. The other half started at the opposite end and were hiking toward one another. What’s The Rush had stayed at a shelter with them the night before. I was intrigued that they were from Dallas, Texas.
Later, I saw the group coming toward me. I told them I was also from Texas. It was a school, and the teacher was telling me that many of the students had never seen anything like this and she wanted them to experience it. It reminded me a lot of Bud, because he would often mention that same thing as he planned his spring Orchestra trips…always thinking of the students and what is best for them…not what would be easiest for him. The group looked like they were having a good time. There was trail guide at the end of the line with a rainbow of colors in his beard. He wanted my buff because he thought it would match his beard. My hair is way too crazy out here not to wear my buff!
At one point, I was zipping my hipbelt pocket and the zipper pull came off in my hand. I called Bud, and he took care of things for me. He is the most awesome husband and support person. He is an important part of my team. I could not do this hike without his support. ULA is sending me a new hipbelt, free of charge. Awesome company, awesome backpack. Love everything about my pack.
It would be 22 miles to the next shelter, so I opted to stay at a stealth site;however, there were comments in the Guthook app that some hikers had stayed here and had seen a mama bear and two cubs come right into their camp. That was about 5 days previous. That would be 18.2 miles for the Day and my feet were hurting. I decided to stop there.
I was on alert when I got there. I had passed someone who told me they had seen a rattlesnake on the trail. (This has become increasingly common.) As I was setting up my tent, I heard a rustling in the bushes. I was expecting it to be a bear, but when I looked up, it was a Doe and two wobbly, spotted fawns. She was not the least bit afraid of me, but the fawns hid behind the bushes and then dashed across the clearing. I tried to get a pic of them. They were so cute!
I ate quickly and got into my tent. I was awakened at 3:00 a.m. by a noise. I listened intently. I could hear claws on the bark of the tree, and the sound of my food bag cord being pinged. I was sure it was a bear. It was out there for a long time. I debated whether I should try to scare it off and save my food. I would be going to town the next day, so I wouldn’t starve if if the bear got my bag. Since I was alone, I opted to lay there like a slug to not attract attention to myself. As I lay there, I heard the bear grunt, and slowly trudge off, twigs crunching underneath his heavy feet.
I began to plan what I would need to buy to replace my food bag. At that point, I didn’t know if I still had a food bag or not. I was thinking that maybe he carried the bag off somewhere to munch on the contents, and I listened to see if I could hear anything off in the distance. Eventually, I was convinced that the bear was truly gone.
When it was barely light outside, I peeked out of my tent and saw that my blue food bag was still hanging on the cord from the tree limb, and intact! Thank you, Jesus! I neglected to mention that I had also done some heavy praying as I lay there like a slug!
I dressed early, and decided not to eat breakfast there in case the bear came back. I’m not afraid of the black bears in this region. I just feel like I have more of an upper hand in the daylight. I had everything packed up and started to hike in the twilight.
I came to a view with a flat rock to sit on. I made my coffee and oatmeal and enjoyed watching the sun climb higher in the sky. I was grateful to be going into town, and it was an easy hike in.