Wednesday morning I made coffee then left the church. We had a long walk that day. Got rained on early on, but only for about thirty minutes. Crossed Hayes Creek, it was knee deep. On the other side the plant life was very over grown. I think I brushed up against some stinging nettles or something because I got a painful tingling sensation on my shin. It only lasted for ten minutes but it was intense.
Around 6:00pm I found a primitive campsite in the woods and was gonna make camp. I figured I still had two and a half hours of daylight left and decided I would push on for a campground instead. When I finally emerged from the forest later in the evening, the sun was setting. I couldn't find the Horse Camp listed in my guidebook. I stood on the side of the road looking at the map on my phone for a place to camp when a car pulled along side of me. The man pointed me in the direction of the trail. I told him I was looking for a place to camp for the evening. I told him about my walk as well. He told me of a camp a quarter mile off the trail. He said to go there and tell them Mike Scott sent me and would pay my camping fee. I thanked him and headed towards the campground.
I found a spot and set up. Took a shower to wash the mud off of myself. Made dinner and then crashed.
Thursday morning I woke up and went to the camp office. I was charging my phone and updating my blog. The owner came down and we chatted for awhile. I was telling his wife how low I was on food and needed to make it to Goreville the next day or go without. Fortunately they raise chickens and I was able to purchase a dozen eggs from them. She hard boiled them for me and included a candy bar, two bananas and some pita chips for only $2.00.
I got a late start and got turned around on the trail. I ended up trail blazing through the forest to make up for lost time. Frustrating. I made it to Max Creek, it's a beautiful little creek and has some bizarre geological activity called the Max Creek Vortex. You can only see it at night though. I emerged from the forest for a bit of road walking. I passed Taylor Church and went in for a brief break. Unfortunately, they didn't have any cookies. They had soda though and I always appreciate a little extra sugar in these veins.
I went back through the forest for awhile. Passed over the dam of Dutchman's Lake. I then walked through a serene pine forest. Probably a planned forest as all the trees were in rows. Either way it was silent but for a few birds and the soft rustle of needles beneath my feet. I then came out of the forest, passed a few farms and was three miles from Fern Clyffe SP where I planned to camp.
I walked by a home and the homeowners were outside grilling and called out to me asking if I needed any water. I said yes and we began chatting about my walk. They asked if I needed any dog food. I was completely out and was going to feed Brown dog biscuits for dinner. They gave me a gallon zip lock full! As we chatted more rain clouds began rolling through. They offered me a ride the last three miles and I took it. As he let me out at the campground the rain came. Not too heavy through.
The park is just outside of Goreville. Good thing because I made my last dinner that night and would need to resupply in the morning.
Friday morning I met some thru hikers. They were just walking the 160 miles of the River to River trail. They're training for an eventual Appalachian Trail hike. Since they were headed east and I west, we exchanged insight on the trail ahead. I took a shorter trail into town saving myself five miles. I bought three days worth of supplies and new socks.
We headed out of town and made it to the Goreville Waterfall. It's not where I had intended on camping but it was a beautiful place and Brown was tired. So we ended up calling it a half day here. The waterfall and lagoon below looked like an excellent swimming opportunity. As I began to walk out into the water I noticed a snake swimming towards me. That changed my mind about the swim real quick. It may have been a young water moccasin or a non venomous water snake. I wasn't taking chances. Instead I sat on some rocks and read and enjoyed the sound of water crashing off the rocks into the lagoon below.
After a while I set up the tent and made dinner. Then went to bed.
Saturday morning I woke up and was headed to Giant City SP. I passed a Presbyterian Church and went inside. I had some chips, nuts and soda while my phone charged. I began to feel as though I was looting churches on my walk. Hopefully Jesus is a forgiving man.
The trail is beginning to dry up, not completely but far better than it has been. I passed through Panthers Den Wilderness area. A nice area with awesome rock formations. I went through Crab Orchard wilderness and then the trail exits onto road. Across the road are signs to continue the trail on an old forest road. However, my guidebook said to make a right and the trail will continue on the left in half a mile. I decided to stick with the guidebook. There was no trail in a half mile and I had to back track on a busy road with no shoulder.
I continued across the road and navigated through an unmarked trail. After a mile or two the trail markers appeared and I felt a little better. However, when I emerged from the forest I must have made a wrong turn because I should have had a two mile road walk to the campground. Instead after I had walked two miles I ended up on a farm road. Seven miles from the campground, at sunset. Grin and bear it, with no other choice I press on.
A mile up the road I found a church. It was locked so I made camp out front. The sun had gone down and I made dinner and turned in early. Church would begin at 9:30 and I intended to be gone.
Sunday morning I continued my walk to Giant City SP. I walked past a vineyard a dozen apple orchards and even a mango orchard (grove?)! Sadly only baby fruit on the branches. I finally made it to the lodge and walked by some cabins. I found the swimming pool. I tied Brown up outside and went for a dip. It felt so good. The day was hot and the pool the perfect temperature. I went back to the bench I tied Brown to and sat there awhile reading.
Later that evening I returned to the lodge for dinner. Since it was fathers day, it was pretty crowded. Instead of waiting for a table, I sat at the lonely bar. The only thing they were serving that night was: "all you can eat chicken dinner". Basically mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, dumplings, biscuits and fried chicken (breast, thigh, wing, drumstick). I had two helpings of chicken and felt really full. You could have rolled me out of there. I watched part of the Heat/Spurs game but gave up hope after the first half. Then I turned in for the night. So full I passed right out.
The Lodge, cabins and trail were built by the CCC. Many of the lodges in the state/national parks I've been to were. It would be pretty cool to have a similar program today. I think it would be fun, I'd sign up to build cabins and trails throughout the beautiful parks in our country.
Monday morning I packed up and headed out. Only a few miles to Makanda, where I needed to pick up my resupply package. Found a church on the way and cooled off inside. The days are getting much warmer as summer is approaching. The post office window doesn't open until 1:45 so we sat around for a bit. I then went down the hill into town, a small village. An ice cream shop and an art welders gallery where there's occasionally live music. Not much else here. I crossed the rail road and a bridge while a dog followed us across to the post office.
I got my resupply boxes but my shoes had not yet arrived. I'd have to wait one more day in this town. As I began to walk back over the bridge a train was coming so I stopped at a picnic pavilion by the river. The dog that was following us did not stop. He approached the tracks even though the train was passing through. I assumed he would stop and wait. However, she looked as though she was looking for a way between the cars to get to the other side. I screamed NO! Come here! It was no use. Something jutting out from the side of one of the cars smacked her across her head. When she went down, I thought for sure she was dead. I ran over but had to wait for the train to pass before I could get close enough. She was still breathing, her body stiff and damp. She was in shock. I began rubbing her ears and a few moments later the stiffness of her body eased. The side of her face was bloody. Some people came over by then and brought over a folding table as a makeshift stretcher. They carried her over to the shops into the shade where she appeared to then grasp the situation and pain she was in. It looked like her tooth went through her lip. It kept getting caught in the hole it made and she would paw at it fiercely. They all seemed to know the dog but it's owner was off at work somewhere. They decided to bring her to the vet. I imagine she cracked her jaw.
A terrible thing to witness. It sends shivers through your bones when you see an animal in pain. After they loaded the dog into the car, I headed back up the hill to the church. I sorted out my supplies and decided I would check back tomorrow on the dogs condition.
My brother was driving from Wisconsin down to Missouri and would be only forty miles from where I was. We haven't seen each other in four years, so he decided to make a side trip to come see me. It was nice to see my brother and niece. They ended up staying the night with me in the church.
Tuesday morning we woke up, had some coffee and said goodbye. I had to wait around town for a bit because the post office window doesn't open until 1:45. I was expecting my new shoes. I trekked down there around 2:00. I inquired about my package. They denied it and wouldn't hold it for me because it was sent by FedEx not USPS. This was so aggravating because my shoes are falling apart. They hurt my feet and knees. They're ripped open on top. I needed those shoes. I couldn't wait around though.
The hikers I met in Fern Clyffe SP told me the trail out of Makanda hadn't been maintained and was tough. I checked it out, it was pretty bad, so I mapped out a road walk to Alto Pass. Passed by a lot of orchards. As well as small migrant worker apartments. I didn't think about it, but I guess it makes sense with all the orchards. I stopped in a church for some juice and cookies. Then continued. The day was hot, around 91 degrees.
We eventually made our way into Alto Pass. A beautiful overlook greets you as you make your way into town. I was looking for water when I ran into Don, the former mayor. He pointed out a good camping spot along the trail. We talked about my walk and it was dark when I began setting up my tent.
When Brown climbed in, he was licking his paws incessantly. I searched to see if there was anything in between his toes or if his pads were bloody but saw nothing. He was reluctant to put pressure on it as well. Hopefully it'll be OK in the morning.
Wednesday morning it was not better. He held it up and would not put pressure on it at all. I packed up and went to the pavilion in the park in the center of town. The man I met the night before was walking by and came over to say hello. When he saw Brown's condition he said he would get his neighbor. She is an anatomy professor and runs a pet rescue.
Unfortunately she was at work but her husband came down to check on us. He called his wife and she knows all the vets in the area and was able to get us an appointment later in the day. Went to the vet and found that he had sprained his middle digit at the knuckle. The vet was awesome and paid for half the bill. Gave Brown some steroids and antibiotics. We also got some tick medicine while there. When we got back from the vet the couple opened their home to me. We had chicken soup for dinner/soul. Afterwards we went out on the porch. Their friend came over and I got a private bluegrass performance! They're incredibly talented musicians. It was nice after a stressful day to relax and listen to music while winding down. After a night of listening to them play, I retired to the futon with Brown. Hoping for a speedy recovery.
Anyway, thank you readers. Thank you to those who have provided help and encouragement, conversation and support this week.