Day 22 – 5/13/16
Sulphur Springs Campground 407.1 to Messenger Flats Campground 430.6
Total miles: 23.5 less a couple miles for detour
4:30 am comes fast. 5 Star and I were the only people in the campground last night. No scream queens or tent check nozzles. Our goal was to get to the Mill Creek Fire Station early so we could rest, hydrate and pack out a lot of water since we would be dry camping.
I must have found an extra gear or my pop tarts were of extra high octane because I was flying this morning. The fire station was 12 miles away and I wanted to take a long break. The hike there was pretty easy. Gentle inclines and declines. Although most of it was through a burn area.
Around 3 miles in I came up a hill and see The Hobbit’s tent. Someone else is sitting outside their tent and I ask him if that is Justice in the tent. He gives me a strange look and then I hear a sleepy Hobbit answer me. The Hobbit had his rain fly off so I walked up and talked to him while he laid in his tent. He missed the turn off yesterday and thought we moved on to a different spot so he continued on. I told him our plans for the next 3 days but he is going to go a bit further than us today.
After talking to The Hobbit I took off at almost Mach 1. I came around a corner and saw civilization down the mountain so I checked my phone and saw I had a couple bars of 4G so I called my mom since she sent me a message on my Delorme sometime between when I turn bit off for the day and turn it on in the morning.
So my mother is a worry wort and if something seems off, like not updating the blog for 3 days, she will send me a question that only I would know the answer to. Today’s question was: what do you call a lady walking down the street banging pots together? The answer is riff raff. The story behind this is back when I was a little kid living in Florida, the parents and I were driving around this neighborhood, looking at houses I think, and my mom or dad said “riff raf.” I had never heard that word before and so I asked what riff raff was. Walking down the street was this lady banging pots together. My mom points to her and says “that is riff raff.”
Anyways, I talk to my mom as she drives in to work and I’m telling her what changes in my resupply I need and then cell service cuts out as I round the mountain.
It was only a few more miles so I kicked it into my new higher gear. They say after 3 weeks you become used to the trail life and if you’re relatively fit that’s about when you get your hiker legs. Yesterday was 3 weeks so maybe I got mine or I just mentally think I did and am pushing harder.
At 8:45 I reached the fire station. About 12 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Not bad. Next to the fire station was a outhouse, table, and a water spigot. There was a trail register on the table which I signed. “Dreaming of burgers.” I filled up a couple liters and then went over to the fire station to sit on their table under the porch. Shade and to get away from a group I don’t care for. A couple of them are always smoking and they only communicate by yelling. Quite annoying.
I sat on the porch with my shoes and socks off and eating some peanut butter based food. I wait about 15 minutes and see 5 Star show up. He gets some water and takes care of some business before coming down and join me. We sit on the porch for an hour before the Hobbit shows up. We talk about our plans for the rest of the day and the next few.
After a two hour break 5 Star and I get up to finish the last 10ish miles. It’s about 3 miles to where there is an alternate to avoid poodle dog brush. The section we are hiking today burned 7 years ago and that terrible plant has grown all over the trail. Supposedly they cleared it out but if the miles earlier in the day were any indication then it still is overgrown.
Of course there would be a 420 mile marker
The alternate is a out 7.5 miles on an old mountain road and meets back up with the trail at mile 430.7, right after the Messenger Flats campground.
The road walk was good for the first 4.5 miles. Nice and flat. No cars since it’s a closed road. Well except for the truck that almost ran us over. I just happened to look back and saw a truck 20 feet behind me as I’m walking in the middle of the road. I have no idea where they were going. Other than that it was safe and easy.
At mile 4.5 it started to climb, and climb, and climb some more. We were less than a mile from a junction we needed to take and I saw some shade. I walked over and took off my pack and ripped the tangled mess of headphones, sunglasses cord, and hat cord off. 5 Star and I sat there trying to cool down and dreaming about lemonade when the Hobbit rounded the corner. We talked for for a bit before he took off.
Begrudgingly, I get back up and make it to the top. We follow the road back down to a tee. The right is messenger flats in a mile and to the left there might be water in 0.7 miles. We go left since it’s right there. We follow the instructions down to this old dirt road when it’s completely blocked by fallen trees and bushes. We scrambled over the obstacles for about 100 yards until we see a building. In front of the door is a huge poodle dog bush. Behind it is a water tank. There was water leaking out the back door of the building but it was locked. Well crap. The Hobbit gets some from the water pooling in the back. 5 Star and I have almost 3 liters left so we decide not to get any. It should last us until we get to the ranger station in 7 miles tomorrow.
5 Star leaves first while The Hobbit and I put our packs back on. We start climbing out and just as we pass the obstacles I look up and see the road we were on. It’s not that steep so I go up the side. The Hobbit doesn’t see me do this. I figure I’ll meet him back at the tee intersection where I assume 5 Star already is. I get to the intersection and don’t see him. Crap, he probably waited and now they don’t see me. I drop my pack and walk back. I hear them calling for me and I yell loud. I see them way back towards the overgrown road. They walk back and say they almost activated the Hobbits Spot for search and rescue. Oops. I felt pretty bad for having them worry like that.
We walk back to the intersection and the Hobbit takes off. He is going the extra miles to the ranger station. Rumor has it that they sell sodas.
5 Star get to Messenger Flats and it definitely is not flat. It’s also extremely windy. We sit around for awhile before deciding to try and cowboy camp behind a table. I gather a bunch of wood and logs to stack around the table to block the wind. Seemed to work ok.
We sit at the table eating when an older man comes to sit and chat with us. Nice guy, Mountain Mike. He has been section hiking for years and is on his last section.
After he leaves we set up for bed. Still windy. I’m hoping I sleep ok.