After being up so late, I think I did pretty well getting out of camp by 6:50.
The trail started with a bit of flat road walk, then climbed onto a ridge and just kind of mindlessly went up and down along that as the sun came out and the day got hotter.
I stopped for my morning snack just before what would be the longest steep climb of the day. It was a nice little moment of relaxation in the shade on a day that would not have much of it.
The climb turned out to be no big deal. Over in no time. Then there was a few miles of that same sort of mindless up and down walking along the side of the ridge. The trail randomly went straight up the hill for no apparent reason sometimes, only to immediately start heading down. Somewhere on a short climb out of a mini ravine, I passed a small snake curled up by the trail. It didn’t react to me at all. Maybe it was napping. I took a picture and went on.
About 11am, I reached the north trailhead for the section. I turned off the trail down a dirt road headed for a well that was to be the first usable source of water in some twenty miles. I ran out of water as I approached it, turning off the road and setting out overland directly for it.
It being nearly noon, the only shade near the water tank was a tiny sliver cast by the tank itself. I squeezed myself into it up against the cool metal and made lunch while my water filtered.
To return to the trail after lunch, I followed a cow track headed toward the tree-lined ridge to the west, where I assumed the trail would be. But when I glanced at the GPS finally, it said I had just passed the trail. I looked back and saw a wooden post standing there. The trail had set out across the prairie itself, with no shade to be found. Just a sequence of posts to follow. And those soon stopped appearing as well. They seemed to say “just go straightish until you run into that fence over there, ” so I did.
The next few miles were a CDT classic by now: walk along that barbed wire fence in a straight line no matter what the terrain does. Boring for the most part, except for the occasional antelope or rabbit sighting.
And then I came upon the fawn. It just lay next to the fence all curled up and didn’t react to me at all. Until I squirted some water on its body. Then it squeaked, scrambled under the fence and went running off at a good clip to who knows where. Maybe to find its mom. Maybe a shadier spot to rest. Either way, I hope it learned to fear humans who come near for the day when they are shooting lead instead of water. (After all, a deer that just stands next to you and lets you shoot it isn’t a very fun deer hunt, is it?)
By 3pm, I reached the highway, and by 3:30 I had made a sign. But no one was biting. In fact, they were signaling “no” before they were even close enough to read the sign. On the bright side, the cloud cover had increased somewhat, so I was boiling under the sun only half the time.
Finally a lady pulled off the side road behind me and invited me to go with. Only an hour and a half wait this time. And who was my first human contact in a week? Her name was Mesonika. It’s Polish. But she was diehard rural conservative, riding with a pistol in her lap, proud that her town had held a parade in the middle of the pandemic against the governor’s orders, referring to masks as “face diapers,” and insinuating I’m a crazy idiot for getting vaccinated. I changed the subject as soon as possible. Turns out Pie Town is named that after someone who sold pies to the folks coming through on cattle drives and the like long ago.
Anyway, she dropped me at Toaster House, which is a hiker box the size of a building. Almost all the food inside is free for the taking. There are beds. But most importantly, there’s a shower, which I availed myself of post haste, scrubbing away a week of accumulated dust.
Hawkeye greeted me at the door. He was holed up with GI issues, possibly Guardia. He said Banshee and Moving Average were there as well. The latter walked up just as he said that, and after a brief chat, I ran off to take over the bathroom for a while.
I spent the rest of the evening chatting with the guys, then standing in the street to get enough cell service to get some posts uploaded and handle other future business, and then grazing my way through the vast variety of free food, including soda, frozen pizza, hot pocket, pickles, an assortment of tea, canned yams, and I even baked a late night potato. I slept upstairs in the penthouse with Banshee, leaving my pack out on the porch because why not.
Trail miles: 29 (12.7 by truck)