July 22, 2015

Bixby got to cuddle me last night, and I almost slept. I woke up so many times, and at one point I considered packing up all my stuff up and hiking in the middle of the night. Not sure why that seemed like a good idea. But we made it through, and everything was brighter in the morning, and we set off for our hike nice and early. We were making decent time and there weren't many blazes but the intersections were well labeled and we were hop skip and jumping from landmark to landmark - but not too quickly, I made sure - and then we hit a completely unmarked intersection. "Okay, this is fine," I thought. "The book says a tenth of a mile after the creek turn right so this must be it." And we turned and went up and there was something that could have been a campsite if you squinted so I thought it was fine, if unblazed, but then the trail forked again when it shouldn't have, and neither side looked more like a trail than the other. So I thought maybe we weren't supposed to have turned. Bix and I went back to that first intersection and went straight, but after a swarm of stinging nettles it became pretty clear that this wasn't it either. So we went back to the other fork and checked down a couple of ways and then we went all the way back to the creek, where I left my pack and Bix's leash and we did another branch of the fork that was marked, oddly enough, with strips of blue tape. I let Bixby lead because dog's intuition and whatnot but no good because we just climbed this dumb field and I would have done Sound of Music if I hadn't been so grumpy. And then we headed back towards the Parkway, because what's the point. It was very disappointing. I didn't want to end the trail by not knowing where it was, but there you have it - can't hike a trail if you have no idea where it got to. I miraculously found service with my 3% battery and called Chris to see when he could pick me up, but today was the one day he really couldn't swing it, so he said he could come get me first thing tomorrow from whatever hotel I could get to.

Bixby and I cut through the woods to the parkway and I ate a PBJ and tried to think of the best way to get a ride. I'm still a ninny, so we walked three miles on the road to Devil's Courthouse. Bix HATED it. Loathed it. Laid down in the grass to pout about it. He refused to drink anything but parkway runoff and water directly off of my hands. That's when I started to feel better about quitting. There's a lot of road on the MST, 400+ miles, and Bix was the droopiest little flower about the three we covered in the mountains where it's cooler. We did get a ride from Betsy and George, thank goodness for dog lovers. And a hippie looking youth group from Florida gave me water and apples.

The Pisgah Inn, where I'd planned to stay, was all full, which was probably for the best as it is also not free. So I wen to the campground and took a shower (!!!) and threw all my stuff except my debit card, phone, and charger down and took Bixby to the store, where they had Wifi and outdoor outlets. I stayed at least two hours, texting and Facebooking and waiting for my phone to charge. I also registered for WWOOF USA, which I think is the best next step to take. I told Chris he could come get me Saturday, since that was easier for him, I could hold off until then, and I started feeling all mopey about being a quitter until I realized that a) I'd already walked nearly 100 miles, b) 10+ days is a perfectly reasonable time to try something out and realize you don't want to do it, and c) looking at the guide and trying to map out places to stay where there weren't campsites made me sick to my stomach. At the end of it I'll have hiked well over a hundred miles, which isn't 1150 but it seems respectable.

I bought some junk food for dinner, and then the cashier came out and gave me his leftover pizza Combos, which I ate gladly (who am I?). I met the guys nearest the camp where I'd chucked my stuff, and talked my head off at them, and they helped me set up my hammock. They're driving their motorcycles all around. Bix has been very good, talky but that's always, although he did do one angry bark at a man today, but I'm chalking that up to the man. I've got tonight and then tomorrow at another campground and then hotel and then home home home!