At first my mind and body body felt stiff and tired from all of the emotion this summer. As we settled into camp the first night, the routine became familiar and safe. The fire crackled in the corner and the sound of the creek rushed through the background as I sat at the picnic table next to Paradise Garden Lean-to.
My two hiking companions, Pusher and Clean Sweep headed off to hang our bear bag and as I relaxed alone, I found my thoughts not drifting to my past losses but to the future.
I headed over to tend the fire when the first of three, ridiculously bad luck moments came upon our trip (each day brought one). As I leaned on the edge of the three foot high fire pit, a rock the size of a large frying pan rolled off onto my foot. Miraculously, through the combination of extra firewood partially covering my foot and my heavy duty boat Crocs (not lightweight, by any means), my foot escaped with no damage.
Though a little shaken, I told the story to the guys and we had a good laugh. I slept soundly and found that my foot was still in perfect condition upon waking.
We hiked 11 miles on day two and camped near another large stream, this one guided by shale ledges for a quarter mile and over a waterfall. The hike started out with a cool breeze, but soon became a grinding road walk through 100 degree temps. After frying on the road, we forced ourselves up a long series of ascending switchbacks. It was the hottest time of the day. We kept swearing at the trail and the humidity forced us to stop often to catch our breath and quench our thirst.
After we reached the top of the ridge we made better time. Despite athletic tape and fresh socks, my feet blistered in the heat. We hit our psychological wall, soaking with sweat and wanting to quit. Pushing was difficult through more long ascents and descents. But we were rewarded in the end as we sat on our butts in the cool mountain stream drinking plastic cups of scotch.
Unfortunately, the day was not quite done with me yet. Our second bad luck moment came as I set up my Tarptent for the night. Important trail etiquette…friends don’t let friends pitch their tent in poop! And mine didn’t!! Even though there were few good tent sites on the slope next to the shelter, Pusher gave me his spot and moved into the shelter when I found the offending brown blob outside my door.
Day three was the most difficult and it brought us our third, and most life threatening, bad luck moment. After hiking 10 miles through the heat, Pusher became overcome with heat exhaustion. Due to a side effect of his medication, he was not able to process the life-sustaining water that he had been consuming all day. Thank goodness for the local volunteer fire department and their ATVs for taking my friend off the trail to safety. He is now safe and hydrated at home but the ending of the Onondaga Trail will just have to wait for a much cooler day.
Sit by our camp fire…http://youtu.be/wQQKbxddeoY