Day 36: In which a good decision to avoid camping on top of a fire tower is made

Miles Hiked: 11
Miles Left: 1900.4
Ending Location: Spring Mountain Shelter

Did I mention I really liked Hot Springs? Hanging out with Chuck Norris in the morning he instructed us to fist bump instead of shaking hands. The stated reason was to prevent the spread of diseases, but really Chuck Norris doesn’t shake hands, he punches you and you feel thankful for it! #ChuckNorrisJokes #AtLeastItWasntARoundhouseKick.

After checking out of the hostel we headed over to the hiker ministry that was offering free food and coffee to through hikers. It was a very nice place. No religious views were offered, they provided IPads for people to browse the web, (less computer virus worries that way), the coffee was excellent, and they had the best chocolate banana muffins I’ve ever had in my life. They were also doing a neat thing where you wrote your trail name on a white board and had your picture taken next to it. They then had a TV that was cycling through all the pictures taken so far this year. I’ve really been blown away by how helpful and nice everyone has been here.

Walking over to the outfitters I did something I should have done two years ago, had my pack professionally fitted. It’s now ridding a lot higher on me and my center of balance is all thrown off but hopefully that will help with my leg issue. I know you should always be suspect of internet based self diagnoses, “Oh looks like I have Ukrainian Lung Parasites!”, but from researching my leg pains it looks like my issue was caused by a pinched nerve due to how tight my hip belt was. The outfitter said my pack was way too low which meant it wasn’t resting properly on my hips which is why I had to cinch it up so tight. The moral of the story being you really should have an expert help you with things like that!

Unfortunately when Owl went to the Post Office to mail things back home they were closed for lunch so we took that opportunity/excuse to grab some lunch ourselves. The end result being we didn’t get on the trail till around 2:00 in the afternoon. This provided a conundrum as the next shelter was eleven miles away. Luckily we made great time, (yay hiker legs). Near the end if the day we ran across a covered fire tower that three other hikers were camping at to see the sunset and sunrise. They tried to convince us to stay but it seemed like a really bad idea so Owl and I donned our headlamps and continued on the final two miles to the shelter. Since it was full when we got there we both camped out for the first time in almost two weeks and had a marvelous night’s sleep as the weather was absolutely perfect.

I knew we made a good choice not staying at the fire tower, but I didn’t realize how good a choice it was until those three hikers came straggling into camp the next morning. I had been expecting it to be windy and cold. I hadn’t expected they would have a run in with the locals who decided to camp below them. Their evening started out good with the locals offering them alcohol but then one of the locals got so drunk that he fell into the fire and had to go to the hospital. The weird part was he came back around 2am , bandaged up, still drunk and now high and manic on pain medication. He then ran around camp for the next three hours swearing and cutting up firewood with an axe. Everyone tried to pretend to be sleeping because they didn’t want to draw his attention but they spent the rest if the night listening to the whack of an axe followed by profuse cursing as the guy had second degree burns all over his hands. When he finally passed out around 5:30 everyone gathered up their stuff and snuck out of there. The moral of this story being don’t camp near any roads. Too many weird things happen there.

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Not an AT&T tower… I should have switched to Verizon before this hike20140326-103922.jpg

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