Day 74 -Modus Operandi

It was another early morning as the workers at Stanimal’s 2 started turning beds over around 7:00 a.m. I was the last person asleep in bed when they barged into the room. Two nights in a row of less than six hours of sleep has made me cranky. That would be a theme for the day.

The morning started off with leftovers from Cook Out. The leftovers were a cold double cheeseburger, and a peanut butter and banana shake (breakfast of champions).

We hung around the hostel until we could get a ride into town at 10:00. The first stop was the outdoor store.

I needed a new sleeping pad to replace mine that had a leak. I ended up going with an ultralight Sea to Summit sleeping pad. I’m happy with the warranty policy their company has, as they replaced my pillow one week prior to leaving for the trail. Next was the post office to mail home my old sleeping pad. Last was a gas station to grab some food before setting back out on the trail (I wanted fast food, but our driver refused and insisted on the gas station). If I’m being honest the options were decent there.

Hiking got started before 12:00, surprisingly, despite all the errands that morning. We found “Bread and Butter” in the parking lot. He had a bunch of leftover stickers they had ordered and was giving them out to anyone who wanted some. Rabbit and I decorated our walking sticks with our newfound stickers.

I started the day listening to music. I was feeling upbeat and the music put me in a zone. We stopped for a lunch break after eight miles. I was feeling better about the amount of food I had been consuming today. For lunch, I packed out a chicken burger from the gas station and added butter for a few extra calories. I also showed “Bread and Butter” pictures of my golden retriever named “Butters.”

There was no water or listed tent sites for the next 13 miles after lunch. The plan was to make it to Blackrock Hut. Along the way, I took a wrong turn down a side trail after crossing a street. I continued down the side trail for one mile before I noticed. I had to backtrack one mile up to the road and figure out where I’d gone wrong (cursing myself the whole way). Silly mistakes like this seem to be my modus operandi.

Modus operandi is Latin for “matter or method of working” (or working incorrectly in my case). A modus operandi (or MO) is a recognizable pattern or certain way of doing something. For me it has significance with making mistakes. In school, athletics, work performance I seem to have a similar pattern. I’ll come out of the gate with strong performances. But at some point in the middle, I will falter. I will get a bad grade or make a mistake that will put my performance review in jeopardy. In most cases, I rise to the challenge, and the end result ends up being a positive one.

I tried not to make that side trail mistake into a bigger one. When I got back on the right trail, it was a little before 7:00 p.m. I was still over six miles from the shelter. After hiking a few more hours, I sat down to mull over my options while I snacked.

I could hike on and attempt to make it to the shelter, or I could try and find a stealth tent site before that. Sleep was needed and I would not get into the shelter before 11:00. The longer I hike the darker it will get and stealth sites are hard to see in the dark. I decided to hike on and try and find a sufficient stealth site.

I ended up hiking about three more miles. The music of “The Starting Line” was playing out loud on my phone as I walked, serenading both my nerves and any potential bears in the area. I found a parking lot near the Rip Rap trail head. I dropped my gear and set up my tent in the parking lot grass adjacent to the trail entrance.

I’m went to sleep under the moon on a windy night. Tomorrow we will be hosted by a random stranger. (Albeit one of the nicest strangers I don’t yet know.) Confused?

If so, stay tuned and stow away in my pack for day 75 on the Appalachian Trail.

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