Top Ramen mixed with instant mashed potatoes for dinner, Lay’s potato chips for breakfast, enough miles to make stuff hurt and searching for a stealth camp for the first time since the PCT? I love, love, love this!
I had one night to pick something to do with on our time at home. I went through a short stretch of feeling sorry for myself this past month – I missed the PCT and desperately wished I could find some magical way I could jump in with some friends that were finishing up the last 60 miles we all missed last year due to snow and the government shutdown. I wanted to be in the woods. The mountains. The desert. I stopped really caring where. I just wanted my backpack on as I pushed some miles under my feet. I nearly cried a couple of times as I drove our truck past giant mountains and gorgeous new country (for me) in Arizona.
So when I got one night to do anything with… out came the backpack. On Friday I wasn’t very excited. At all. It was raining and it was freakin’ cold! But on Saturday morning, the sun came out and it turned out to be the PERFECT day for hiking. Perfect.
It’s officially pre-fall. The air was cool. Just cool. It didn’t have that “bite” that signifies late fall and that winter is on its way. Yet. And when I hiked into patches of sunshine glaring down between clumps of forest, it was downright hot. Except for that perfect cool breeze.
I head out to hike as far as my legs could carry me. I have to say I feel satisfied! I hiked between 17 and 18 miles on Saturday (in 7 hours) and 5 or 6 on Sunday. Full pack, too! I can still do it! I could’ve pushed a 20 if I had to. But I’m glad I was able to stop when I did. I was TIRED! It was good.
At about 6:30pm I came to an open patch of tall maples and oaks. I hiked in until I was out of view from the trail, found a flat spot and set up camp. After my Ramen/mashed tater dinner and some hot cocoa, I hung my food and prepared myself for bed.
Then I heard a snort and a crack off in the dark. I turned my headlamp towards the noise and there were four glowing eyeballs staring at me. One set was fixed still, the other bobbing up and down, inspecting me closely. Deer. For sure. I just held still and watched. They inched closer, and I let out a soft whistle. One of the deer stomped its feet, snorted and they both loped off a ways. I head to my tent door. Another crash in the brush and a snort to my side showed me they hadn’t gone far. I remember thinking, “would a deer maul me in the middle of the night?” After all, I was in the middle of the woods out of sight. If it was gonna’ happen…
So I spooked them again by talking to them. “Heeey deeeer! What’s goin’ on, deeeer?” They ran off, but once I was tucked into my sleeping bag, they were already back. I must have been in their favorite acorn-grazing spot. Sorry, deer! I fell asleep quick, despite all the noisy deer antics. I woke up two more times in the night (that I remember) from cracking twigs and snorts. “Sigh… just deer. Zzzzzzz.”
I woke up to raccoons at about 5 am. They were noisy, too! They were talking, squawking and chattering away, rustling in the leaves behind me. I recognized their crazy noises right away and fell back asleep for a couple of hours. When I finally got up it was quiet except for the soft rustling of leaves way up high above me. Ahhh. Stretch, yawn…
I was pretty sore as I hiked the last miles back to the car. I took it easy and enjoyed the green leaves, breeze and sunshine. Another great day. It made me kind of wish I had a few more.
On the way out I grabbed a burger at a small summer burger hut, then stopped at an ice cream shop for a cone. A great end to a great hike. Or wait… it’s not over yet!
I met Adam at a hotel, took a hot bath with a cold beer in hand, watched the Packers win, and now I’m going to sleep in a giant bed with fluffy pillows. Feels like a nearo. It could have been a PCT trip, who’d have known! Satisfaction.
The only bummer was that my bathwater didn’t turn grey. I wasn’t out long enough, I guess! Maybe next time!
Tonight I love foot massages. Because I’m totally going to sweet-talk Adam into giving me one!