Day 88. Just after I posted last night’s blog, it started. To describe the 50 person bonfire party accurately, let me borrow a scene from The Lord of the Rings:
The ground shakes. Drums, drums in the deep. We cannot get out. They are coming.
It was like a scene out of a movie. A parade of adults marched down the road, led by drums, guitars, and fiery torches. When they arrived at the sports field, a 20 foot bonfire was lit to the sounds of cheering, chanting, and song. I don’t think it was a religious party, per se, but the Spanish-speaking group had a song-session of loud religious-toned songs until just before midnight. Maybe a movie is the wrong reference, it was more like an end-of-year celebration at summer camp. Instruments, songs, games, laughter, reverberating loudness through the night … you get the idea. I was very tempted to sneak up for a candid video, but didn’t want to be rude. So instead I recorded a song from the darkness of my hammock and laughed to myself. You can
see hear it below.
I did a good job of ignoring them with earplugs, but Happy was not so successful. When we recapped in the morning, I learned he was up through it all, and long after, so he did not have the best night’s sleep. He actually ended up moving under the pavilion shortly after they left, so he could at least avoid an early morning wake up call from the rain. It did not help though, as raccoons and early rising hikers terrorized him loudly in the morning. Even still, he rested as much as he could and awoke ready to take on the day. Albeit, an agreed upon slightly shorter one than I originally planned.
We hiked about 6 miles, at the same 1 mph speed as yesterday. The terrain was much kinder today, but after the torment of yesterday (and night), we both agreed to play it safe. I helped by taking the tent for him, though truthfully it was more to appease my concerns than his. There were a few tough rock boulder sections Happy was introduced to today, but they were more or less manageable. We were also spared the bad rain day the weather predicted. In reality, it barely sprinkled at all, and only for an hour or two. We didn’t even need raincoats, which was a pleasant surprise!
All told, I’m very impressed that a 71 year old man can carry 40 pounds on his back and traverse this trail so smoothly and with such a positive attitude, but that’s my dad for you. Ever young at heart and ready for adventure.
That’s not to say he liked the AT today. Oh no, far from it. The feeling after hiking 6 miles was that he’s very glad to be done, and that he can’t quite figure out how I’m able to make it look so easy. “Three months of practice”, I said with a smile.
We ended the day around 3pm at a small stealth campsite on the far bank of a stream. It is not an official site, but is a nice small clearing for tents with a fire pit. We set up camp, cooked dinner, and lit the campfire I wanted yesterday. It was a nice change to have the wilderness to ourselves tonight. We relaxed peacefully by the embers and discussed plans for tomorrow before calling it an early night. Happy was asleep by 6pm, I stayed up a bit longer to enjoy the fire in the chilly night air.
Although I would prefer longer hiking days to put more miles behind us, I’m very much enjoying the comfortable pace that Happy is setting for us. We may do a similar short day tomorrow, then hopefully his body and lungs will have acclimated better for some 8-10 mile stretches. No pressure or rush though, we’ll take it one day at a time.
Oh, I also finished last week’s video and don’t want to delay publishing it further, so check it out below!
Hello Neimans (Sharkbait and Happy)
- Start Mile: 1411.3
- Start Time: 09:00
- End Mile: 1417.5
- End Time: 15:15
- Miles Hiked: 6.2
- Miles to Go: 773.4
- Lodging: Stealth Campsite