Monday, September 2, 2019; day 44
I surfaced to consciousness with the lightening sky. So peaceful.
I turn to my side within my down cocoon and watch as the sun lifts and expands its radiant light.
I packed up quickly. I was still interested in visiting the Bonaparte Lake Resort, 15 miles away. I had read that they offer free showers to hikers.
I was glad I had stopped a bit short and slept within the woods. It coos my drive and motivation…unlike paved roads; like those I was about to hike along.
I began the descent towards Cougar Creek Road.
An owl soars within my line of path. Graceful in its heavy silence, it lands on a branch ahead.
I joined the road, and as expected, cut through private property.
I could see a group of people gathered in chairs around a fire. There were beautiful tapestries of cool colors and moonscapes.
One person who was seated, turned and looked my way.
“Hello” I say. “Sorry, I think the trail goes through here…”
“It does”, replied a woman standing beside the tapestries and make-shift kitchen.
The woman introduced herself as Lynn, and offered me a hot cup of coffee.
I never refuse a cup of coffee.
I removed my pack and sipped the hot beverage and chatted with Lynn and Jay and their loved ones. They had purchased the property a while back, and they were slowly moving in. I asked her how she felt about the trail running through their yard. She said that she did not mind the hikers, that it was the hunters that left trash.
I left the encounter smiling.
I continued along the roads.
The air is dry. Locusts cause crackling sounds in the brush. Sweat drips off my body. I dream of a shower.
I move along the pavement, a wavy being wading through heat induced delirium.
I turn on to Bunch Road, greeted by cattle and blinding white gravel.
I close my eyes and lilt as I walk.
Eventually I joined a forest service road. The road was slightly overgrown, which made for a pleasantly cushy, shaded hike.
I soon hit the asphalt of Bonaparte Lake Road and headed to the resort.
I bought a 35 cent bar of soap, and was told where I could find the shower.
A very social guest of the resort spotted my pack and told me that there was someone travelling by bike out on the patio. “Why don’t you go say “hi”, she encouraged.
I instantly knew it was the bike-packer I had seen earlier.
I went to the patio and introduced myself to Asa.
We chatted for a long while around a table on the deck of the restaurant, then we returned to his camp site and chatted some more. We spoke of our journeys (he had started in DC and was also travelling to the coast), and how one seems to enter the travelling community when they pursue these adventures more than once.
We relayed fresh stories of adventure as I let my external battery pack charge in the nearby public restroom.
We spoke of the mantras we repeat to ourselves, and how the locals have been friendlier to him since he started wearing a camo hat.
Asa paused in conversation and looked to the surface of the picnic bench where we sat. “We have certainly covered this table, haven’t we!?” We both looked at the bottles and plastic baggies and maps and sleeping pads that sat in disheveled display. We both began laughing hysterically. My eyes began to water and my belly ached. It was the hardest I had laughed in some time.
I decided to accept his offer to stay at his site. I star-camped, gazing at the night sky and listening to the beautifully haunting call of loons on the lake.
It was the first night I had spent on trail in the intentional company of another.