Thru hikers get more than they bargained for
Pinhoti Trail Day 17 & 18
Miles Hiked: 27 miles
Day 17: zero day in Cave Springs
This morning I slept in a bit which felt amazing. I was excited to get donuts from a local place in town but sadly it was closed. The owner had a doctor’s appointment. You gotta love small towns.
I wound up heading to the grocery store for breakfast ingredients instead. Homemade breakfast sounded great. I made a bagel with cream cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, and egg. After I ate I did some planning with everyone for the next stretch of trail. We’ve done a good job so far avoiding rain if possible, so we’re gonna continue to try when we can. One great thing about the Pinhoti trail has been that you’re never more than a day or so away from a road to town. So if there is a day of rain in the forecast you can attempt to weasel around it.
The rest of the day all of us hung out. I journaled a bit and everyone sat out on the porch of the Hearn Inn. While we were all out on the porch another hiker Nails arrived. It was so nice to see him again. He had stayed behind to hike with a friend for a couple days.
Later on some of us got lunch together at the only place in town that was open on Fridays. Then I hit the grocery store to resupply. And we wound up back at the same place again for dinner. It was a great lazy day and I was pleasantly surprised that my body felt amazing. I can feel my trail legs starting to come in and I love it.
Day 18: 27 miles
This morning we all got up fairly early and got our things together. The nice lady Callie who runs the Hearn Inn offered to slack pack us today (hiking without carrying all of your gear). The entire “trail” for the day was road walking, so taking some weight off would allow us to do bigger miles without hurting ourselves.
We all agreed on our goal for the day to be 24 miles. So Callie drove us to a trailhead 24 miles out so that we could begin walking south from there. The trail literally goes right to the inn so it worked perfectly.
We got dropped off and began to walk and everyone was really happy to be slack packing. But about a mile or so in Nails caught up to me and asked if I’d gotten the message from Mule and 5 Pounds, which I hadn’t. Apparently we didn’t get dropped off 24 miles out… we accidentally got dropped off 32 miles out. Woopsies
We really had no choice besides to keep walking. Maybe we could push 32 miles. or more likely we’d go as far as we could and then get a ride back to the inn. Thankfully the trail was all road walk mostly anyway, so you could really get picked up anywhere.
That definitely changed the tone of the day but it worked out ok. I still took breaks periodically to stretch. I wound up catching up to Nails about 8 miles in and we walked together for most of the rest of the day. Mule and 5 Pounds were able to cut off a handful of miles by following along a different road which was a solid plan. But Nails and I decided to just push through and follow the regular route.
15 miles in the trail passed a deli and we stopped in for a lunch. Another hiker Jinx decided not to slack pack and just hiked North instead. But at the deli we actually all caught up to each other and took a break together. I also ran into a hiker Yard Sale by the deli he was attempting the Pinhoti trail FKT (fastest known time). And he also hiked the PCT in 2022 which I did as well. We talked briefly and then I headed into the deli for lunch with the guys.
After we ate inside we hung out in the grass in front of the deli/gas station. And while the 3 of us sat there in the grass a man slowly drove by us in his car. He rolled his window down and yelled at us “WELLFARE! WELLFARE!” Before driving away. I guess he must have thought we were homeless people hanging out? He’s not entirely wrong I suppose. But it was funny to get that kind of a reaction from a stranger. That’s a first for me as a thru hiker. We all had a nice long laugh about it and joked about it for the rest of the day.
After that there was 12 more miles of road walking for the day. Most of it was on the shoulder of a 60MPH highway. That was not ideal. But we made the most of it. Nails and I even took a break right on the side of the highway like total lunatics.
Along our road walk we passed the 200 mile marker on trail! There wasn’t a marker though, so we made one ourselves out of road side trash. What else?
By 6:30pm we had gone 27 miles and two hikers actually came to pick us up. We could have done those last 5 miles but it would have been miserable.
Back at the inn I showered and changed and then we went to get food for dinner. Everyone hung out and it was a great night.
My body felt good but I was exhausted.
Luckily we are now ahead on mileage so tomorrow we can sleep in and do an easy mile day.
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