May 21, 1998

5/21/89 Gravel Springs Hut

20.2 miles (930.5 total)

Woke up late this morning with overcast skies and little sprinkles. Took our first break at a "day" shelter with a pair of photogenic mice. One ran here and there while his buddy just checked us out. He let us get within inches to take his picture.

This little guy was fearless

Moondaddie is not a happy camper because his feet aren’t doing so well. He’s usually the last to arrive and I guess the pain makes him very surly. During the hike down, we met several groups of day hikers. I think this is going to be a trend for the summer.

Stopped for lunch at the Panorama Restaurant. Almost, I said, almost ordered the calzone - glad I didn’t . A very sad looking meal - I miss my Minsky’s (in Kansas City). By time we were done eating, the sun was back out - guess we’re going to be hot all summer.

The longer the day went, the worse my feet felt. Three 20’s in a row is not a great idea. At one point, I found Veto soaking her feet in a stream, trying to get some pain relief. Arrived at the wayside just minutes before they closed. I couldn’t believe they didn’t have pints of vanilla ice cream and the soft serve cone machine had been turned off. So I bought 4, count them, 4 ice cream sandwiches. I told Piper that I’d love to buy beer for the guys but didn’t relish the idea of carrying it 6 miles up and over Hogback Mountain. So he offered to carry it if I bought it. And after a quick bathroom break, it was back to the trail.

Another problem with the heat is the sweat causes severe chafing down your crotch. About a mile from the wayside, the pain was getting worse with every step. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I stopped, got out my knife and cut the mesh liner out of my shorts, without even taking them off. Within a mile I could really tell the difference.

It had been a long day and the sun was rapidly going down. I was a little worried about hiking at night, so I pushed pretty hard. Up on the mountain, the wind was extremely strong even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Something that’s becoming a trend as we go north is the peaks are covered with antennas and radio towers. Even though the feet hurt going up, its worse coming down. I just wanted to get to the shelter. About a mile from the side trail, I heard a crashing sound to my right and saw a black furry rump scurry back into the woods - my first bear.

Finally got to the shelter about 8pm only to find it full of a bunch of older guys out for the week. Piper and I pitched tents so the guys with tarps could squeeze into the shelter. Veto, Piper and I cooked dinner and waited for the rest of the guys to show up. As bad as my feet were, I knew Moondaddie’s must be killing him. As it got dark, I hoped they’d stopped and set up tarps on the trail. We each had a beer and we’d leave the others for the guys the next day.

About 10pm, I hear Ghandi’s voice. Sure enough, the three were making their way, slowly down the trail, flashlights bobbing. They’d cooked dinner near the wayside while they had access to water and it was still light out. Then they just took their time night hiking. Just glad it wasn’t me.