Day 47: Just Another Day in Paradise
Don’t Overlook the Obvious
Every once in a while, it hits me like a thunderbolt. Somebody made a path that goes all the way from Georgia to Maine. Through the woods in the middle of nowhere. Through towns and cities. Over and along rivers. Over mountains. Mostly over mountains. And people come out and volunteer to build it, repair it, and improve it. And anyone can just go out and walk it anytime they feel like it. It’s truly amazing.
Notwithstanding all that, today’s walk was nothing special. There were no big climbs, no spectacular ridge walks with forever views, no awesome rivers, no wildlife, no trail magic, no reunions with friends, no new friends, and no cultural sites.
It was just another day in the woods. Which is way better than a day in the office. Say what you will about the long, green tunnel, but it sure beats working.
I had the trail to myself most of the day, although I passed Colin Farrell (not his real name, but he looks like him) and his dog Wade Wilson (his real name and he doesn’t), who I’d met at Superman’s trail magic a few days back. Colin Farrell is a professional thru-hiker. Not in the paid sense, but in the full-time sense.
So, I don’t think he appreciated getting passed on the climb out of Bland. But he was carrying a full pack and wrangling a dog, and I’m just a slack-packer. A white-haired, elderly, slack-packer. Then again, I’ve got long legs and a nasty competitive streak. I knew he’d reel me in eventually, but it was fun to hold him off for a few hours, like those unknown Tour de France riders who make a hopeless, too-early break against the seasoned pros.
I heard him behind me a couple of times, but he never closed until I stopped to make a little video at the 600-mile mark. He and Wade zoomed past, and I think I saw a little respect in his eyes when he said we’d probably leapfrog the rest of the day. We didn’t. He was gone and I’d already burned my extra fuel.
And that was about it for the day’s fun. Except for that 600-mile mark. I love clicking off the mileage milestones, though 600 doesn’t have the panache of 500. And I’ve got something special planned for 700.
Why Walk When You Can Swim?
My day ended at Kimberling Creek, crossing the historical suspension foot bridge. Gus wasn’t too sure about the bouncy, swinging bridge when he showed up to pick me up. He preferred to swim the somewhat smelly river and then roll in the riverbank mud. The latter earned him a toss back in the river for rinse before toweling him off and locking him in the rental car.
- Start: Kimberling Road (Mile 592.6)
- End: Kimberling Creek (Mile 610.2)
- Weather: Partly sunny, chilly, breezy
- Earworm: My son made me a worm-killing soundtrack. Sweet tunes.
- Meditation: Mt. 5:19
- Plant of the Day: Big ol’ orange wrinkly Chicken of the Woods
- Best Thing: Suspension bridge over Kimberling Creek
- Worst Thing: Road closure & 2-hour detour (after hiking)
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