Disclaimer: What you’re about to read is not good for those who are easily made nauseous.
I woke up the next morning and I knew it was my time to “crap in the woods.” Whenever you’re hiking, you must know that day will come. Luckily, there is an outhouse at Iron Mountain shelter. Even luckier, someone had come up the previous week and installed a toilet seat on it and left some toilet paper. So I crawled out of my sack to go do some business. When I had finished, I realized I had blood in my urine. I have never had this before so I was freaking out.
I texted my friend Chris who is a doctor hoping he would get my text before we were ready to shove off. I walked back to the shelter where Mark was already looking around to build a fire. I told him what had happened and we both stood there unsure of what we should do. At the Iron Mountain shelter is also a fire tower with an access road. We could call someone to come get me but not sure if they’d be able to use the access road or not.
Finally, Chris came through and said not to be worried and gave me some tips. He stated I was probably dehydrated. Keep water in me and I could finish my hike. If the symptoms kept up after I got back, then I could go see a doctor. I texted Carrie although I didn’t want to. I didn’t want her freaking out and she said practically the same thing Chris did. Then she told, “You can do it. Press on!” Let me tel you if the day before I spent the day thinking about my new book idea then this day all I could think about was my wife’s encouragement.
Since the guys wanted to get out quick, I made the Ramen Noodles and heated up some beef jerky on the fire and mixed the two. Now that was some good eating. I spent a few minutes applying mole skin to my feet, packed my pack and we were on the way out. It was eleven miles to the Southern Welcome trailhead and we needed to make it there by 3:00 pm. We left about 9:15 am.
We began hiking and as any other day is was pretty much eventless. We did take a few breaks throughout the day. One of them I had stopped to take a breather and Mark had mentioned that there would be no water sources the rest of the way but there was a spring just up ahead. I was the only one that needed water so I asked them to let me fill up there since I needed to stay hydrated the rest of the day. The spring was beautiful and secluded and I could have camped there for a few days.
When we broke for lunch, we had made it to some pines and we all sat down on a fallen tree. I was the only one to rest my feet and take my shoes off. Josh pushed us a little so we only took fifteen minutes for lunch. I ate some more jerky and Mark gave me a whole can of Pringles that I devoured as well. I put my shoes back on and we were off again. Long miles make for a long day. Although our breaks were cut short we did walk a little slower than we did the day before. That made the hiking a little more bearable on my feet.
Sometime along the trail, Dalton and Josh were ahead of Mark and I some ways. When we had caught up with them they were sitting under a shade tree. Dalton was having a nose bleed. He said they were normal when Spring time begins. So we waited till it was cleared up to go further. It would seem our last day would be a bloody one. Definitely one for the memory.
When we made it to the green sign (those green signs always made for morale boosters) that said South Welcome Center two miles, the relief could be heard loudly. We decided that we had an hour to an hour and a half to walk two miles so we walked very slowly and took our time soaking in what was left of our thirty mile hike. Upon one ridge, I just stopped and looked out as far as I could see and thanked God for such an amazing time. In less than an hour, I would be in a car riding back to my truck. It would take twenty minutes to get what took us three days to walk from. I wanted to soak it all in these last two miles and that I did.
The first glimpse of the Trace you can see through the trees brought excitement. We were mere minutes from the end. We started to see the cars going by since the trail walked parallel with the Trace. Mark’s wife came into view and I was pulling up the rear. I saw her jump out of the SUV with a camera and she began taking pictures as we emerged from the woods. We all celebrated when we walked into the clearing and we all walked over to the South Welcome sign and had our picture taken.
What a day. What a trip. I woke that morning not sure if I needed to call in emergency aid and I got to finish my hike. It was glorious. It was bitter/sweet. I didn’t want it to end but I needed to rest and rest my feet. When I made it back to my truck, I sat down behind the wheel. I was now sitting where just three days earlier, I was getting out of my truck and embarking on a three day journey, one I would never forget. I put the key in the ignition, turned the truck on, backed out of Jenny Ridge picnic area, plugged in my iPod and allowed Hall and Oates take me back home just as they had brought me. It was a fitting end to an amazing trip.
- Hiking Dunbar Cave Recovery Trail (picturesoflillies.wordpress.com)