April 23, 2018
Destination: Fullhardt Knob Shelter Today's Miles: 11.20
Start Location: Stealth Campsite at Mile 723 Trip Miles: 734.20
I woke up to my alarm. I had set it because I had a goal - making breakfast in Daleville!
I had 6.2 miles to hike to get there. I wanted time to eat, relax, resupply, and eat again (lunch) before hiking out of town. I organized myself pretty well last night to get out of camp reasonably quickly. I wasn’t having coffee or eating breakfast, so I packed all my stuff up, threw on my shorts and t shirt, and got to hiking.
I love when I get going earlier in the morning. There is something special about watching and hearing the forest wake up. The way the light looks, the smell of the dew as the sun hits it, the sounds of the birds as they begin their morning calls - all of these things come together in a kind of magical symphony of sights, smells and sounds. I thought the hiking into Daleville would be pretty easy, but there were actually a handful of quite technical sections - boulders to climb over on the ridge lines, etc. I saw a guy meditating on a rock, or at least looking out over the beautiful view. I quietly hiked by. About 10 minutes later I heard something behind me and turned around. It was said guy, trail running in minimalist shoes that really might as well have been his bare feet. I watched him run past and quickly scramble up a steep boulder climb that was on front of me, then dash over the top of the ridge like a gazelle. I got to it and clawed my way up carefully with my trekking poles, slipping and stabbing desperately at the earth for some kind of friction. I made it up though with my own special “style.” As I got to the easier terrain I ran into a thru hiker who said his name was Zia Fox. He hiked behind me and talked on the way to the road crossing for Daleville. I pulled over to use the bathroom and let him go by. I needed some coffee before I could handle more chatting! I had skipped it this morning specifically because I knew there was a coffee place that served breakfast food in Daleville. I was very excited about this!
When I got to the road, I hung a left and walked towards everything I needed. The Kroger, coffee/breakfast place, outfitter, and three little pigs BBQ were all in the same shopping plaza, so it was incredibly convenient and easy. The walk was very short - maybe a quarter mile. I beelined for the breakfast place, and while I was looking over the menu, Tennessee walked in. I didn’t recognize him at first because he had shaved and didn’t have his orange Tennessee jacket on. He got a cup of coffee and I got coffee, French toast and scrambled eggs and a danish. We caught up on trail updates and whatnot - it was fun! I then went for a second meal and got an omelet with toast. Delicious! Before I left I took my Swiss Army knife to the bathroom with me and executed Operation Trim the Nose Hairs. Nothing like being a dirty hiker when you’re 40....
Tennessee went over to the outfitter while I finished my coffee, and I stopped in there briefly to purchase a fuel canister before going to Kroger to resupply. I actually did pretty well sticking to my shopping list. I also got a new toothbrush and some more toothpaste. My old toothbrush had definitely seen better days. For one of my meals I bought the ingredients to make a “ramen bomb.” I heard other hikers talking about these. Ramen bombs are when you make ramen noodles with a little extra water, and then drop a starch in it like instant mashed potatoes. I plan to do it with some Idahoan mashed potatoes. It sounds amazing, so I’m pretty excited about eating it! I got enough food (I’m sure too much, but I like my snacks and “extras!”) for 4-5 days. I should be at the road crossing to get to Glasgow in 4 days, and that is where I will resupply next. Glasgow is roughly 5 miles off the trail, but the town actually has a free, town-provided shelter in the center of town with hot showers, a privy, and a tenting pavilion. It’s sounds both cool and smart (great way to keep hiker business coming into town). After I purchased my food, I sat down outside Kroger and broke everything down, threw out boxes, and organized my food by days like I always do. I drank a smoothie while I did that - it’s kind of a resupply tradition of mine. In Kroger I had seen Apollo and Skutch. They had said the BBQ joint was good, and it was time for me to head that way.
When I got to three little pigs I saw Wandering Dad and Bama Dog and WD waived me over. Earlier I had exchanged texts with him and told him that, while I appreciated his offer, I wanted to hike out of town before the nasty rain, and so I would skip the shower. I’m pretty gross right now though. My t shirt looks like it has been tie dyed but it’s just salt stains from my sweat. Bama Dog left but WD had just ordered. I ordered a BBQ sandwich with vinegar-based sauce and Cajun chips. It was delicious! Three Little Pigs gives free banana pudding to hikers, so I ate that too. I took a picture of it because it was pretty decorative for banana pudding. It was divine and I ate it in about 30,seconds! The restaurant was super hiker friendly and even helped me fill up my water bottles. Over lunch WD told me that Captain Krispy was off the trail though. I knew he had gone back home to rest for a few days because his leg had really been bothering him. Apparently he went to the doctor only to find out he had stress fractured his femur!! No wonder it hurt so bad!! I was in shock at this news, and also kind of devastated for Captain. My hope is that he will be able to heal up and finish his hike before his school term starts, but I’m sure he has to play it by ear right now. Captain Krispy (or Momma Krispy), if you’re out there and see this, I’m so sorry that happened and I really hope you are able to come back from it! We all miss you on the trail and will send positive vibes your way - do let us know how you’re healing up! Also, as an aside, I got those mint chocolate chip builders bars you were really into. You were right - they are awesome!
Krispy’s injury shook me up, not just because I felt bad for him and want him to get well and be able to complete his hike, but also because it highlighted how quickly serious injuries can develop out here. I’ve heard of people getting off the trail for nasty infections, broken bones, and other reasons. To hear if this happening to someone much younger than me makes me feel a little like a ticking time bomb. I made a mental note to try to be extra careful not to push myself too hard. We finished up lunch and I went back over to the coffee house to grab one more cup of joe and charge my power bank a little more. Then it was time to head out!
My goal was simply to hike to the first shelter out of town and hopefully get there before the rain kicked in. I passed Bama Dog and two young hikers named Tarzan and Happy Feet. The rain, of course, did kick in, but it did not rain heavily enough for long enough at any point to make me stop and put on rain gear. I showed up at the shelter damp, but not soaking wet. Tennessee and Zia Fox were there, as well as Wallace! I didn’t think I would catch up to Wallace, so it was a surprise to see him there. We talked a bit and then I worked on journaling before bed.
I was so grateful that the rain largely held off until I was close to the shelter, and grateful for the convenience and good food in Daleville. It was good to see old trail friends again. It’s funny how the passage of time is so different out here! As we lay in our sleeping bags the wind and rain picked up. Tomorrow is supposed to be a wet one....