High Point Shelter [mile 1870.6; SOBO 852.2]
So last night I got thirsty. It was the middle of the night. I unzipped and reached outside the tent for one of my water bottles without putting on my glasses—which is a hassle, what with the finding the bag, opening the bag blind, fishing for the glasses case, pushing them on under the headbands and hats and headlamp, etc. I happened to reach for the bottle that had had an inch of Gatorade in it when I filled it.
I brought it into the tent and put it down and zipped the tent and went for a drink and saw something moving: an ant on the floor of the tent. Then another ant. Then another ant. I went through the rigamarole of getting the glasses and realized, finally, that the Gatorade bottle must have been covered with ants. Which were now crawling all over the inside of my tent.
They were everywhere! I put the bottle outside then spent a quarter hour in an ant frenzy, finding them and tossing them out of the tent.
I hate ants. Once I woke up in a bed full of ants. Twice I’ve walked into my kitchen to find the place covered with a million ants like an army invasion. A wisewoman once told me that ants mean patience; if you have an encounter with them, the universe is teling you to be more patient. I don’t know. I think sometimes the universe is telling you to shovel ants out the tent door.
When I woke up in the frigid air this morning, I found a couple of frozen bodies, but that was it. I packed up as fast as I could manage, given that every fiber of my being wanted to stay under the covers forever.
It was a cold, gray morning, but dawn filled the sky with muted pink and pale blue. I reached a wildlife preserve (which always seems to mean ‘birds,’ more or less) and watched the day melt the frost off the cattails and tangled swamp grass. The vast pool to the left was filled eith honking geese. I wondered why they all honk at once; seems like a one-on-one system would work better.
After that came a long roadwalk, then the decision: skip Unionville, or walk the 7/10 mile for breakfast. My food was still a little short and I’d made great progress early, so I decided to sprint in.
Good decision! I had a breakfast sandwich and coffee, then made it back to the trail with enough time that come noon, I was slipping down the driveway to the top-secret shelter that everybody knows about.
The ‘shelter’ is actually a tiny cabin owned by a hiker and trail angel named Jim. The property has a well, a privy, and a shower… not to mention electricity, which is why I have enough juice to upload some entries at the moment. And donkeys! Two actual donkeys!
Horselike objects scare the crap out of me, but Jim took me back and introduced me to the donkeys. They’re two brothers. One’s named Republican, and the other’s Democrat. I have no idea how Jim tells them apart. Cute! I even petted one… right up to the point where Jim said “He might test you by taking a little nip at you. It won’t hurt.” Shades of trail dogs! No; these guys had bigger teeth.
Anyway, thank you, Jim, for being so generous with your space!
After that, the weather took a downturn. The temperature dropped steadily and the sky turned severe. By the time I got the tent pitched, it was spitting icy rain.
And here I am! Winter is back. And so is nighttime.
In 45 miles, I’ll be crossing into Pennsylvania. Trail willing.