So much has happened this week.  I’ll start pretty much where we left off.  The morning after the 4th of July activities we headed out of town.  It was super easy terrain and we were averaging about four miles per hour, so the whole crew decided to go into the next town with me to pick up a package and get a hot lunch at the diner.  We didn’t want to have to carry our packs with us all the way into town, so I suggested hiding them in the woods by the road.  Dexter and I hid ours in one spot while Lost Boy and Chance hid theirs in another.  I’m sure you can guess where this is going!

When we finished lunch and got back to the trail a couple hours later, Lost Boy and Chance discovered that their packs were missing.  In an instant our day turned to panic.  Everything we own is in those packs.  The boys ran off in different directions to see if they could catch the thieves.  Along the way, Chance found an empty beer bottle that he was certain came from his pack.  They had purchased beer for the 4th and packed out a few to enjoy at camp that night.  Soon after that, they found an older couple outside their home who said some of the boys from the nearby trailer park are known for stealing from neighbors.  Meanwhile, the cops arrived and were getting descriptions of the packs and their contents when our friend Regular Goat walked by.  Dexter and I ran up to ask if he had seen anything, when he pulled out his phone to show us a picture of the two packs he saw on the side of the trail.  He had taken the picture because he said the packs were completely ransacked and it looked like hikers had been murdered.  He wanted the picture as evidence!!!

After retrieving the backpacks, Regular Goat said the boys and the cops searched through their belongings to discover that absolutely nothing was missing, except one beer and a $20 dulcimer (a small guitar) from Chance’s bag.  We were ecstatic.  Maybe the kids stealing them got scared and dropped them, or maybe they had a change of heart.  I like to think it’s the later.  We hiked a few more miles to the net rest stop where we saw our friend D.No sitting at a bench playing the dulcimer.  Turns out Chance had absentmindedly put it down near a tree earlier in the day and forgot to pick it back up.  Those kids caused a whole lot of scare for one beer!  To make the day even better, there was a ridgerunner who was passing out free beers.  It turned out to be a pretty good day.

Now flash forward a little.  We’ve been pushing pretty big days recently, so that we could make it to New Jersey for my birthday on the 16th.  We have done several 20’s in a row and on this day, we wanted to push 24 miles into town.  This is all fine and dandy until the trail decided to try to kill us.  We were making extremely good time and were only a few miles out of town, when it started to downpour.  Within ten minutes, the rain was so thick that we couldn’t see a person 20 feet in front of us.  Ten minutes after that, the trail had turned into a quick flowing river and thunder and lightning was all around us.  We finally got within maybe a half mile to town when suddenly the trail plummets straight down the mountain.  This was the steepest decline I had ever seen.  For the next half mile, we carefully took each step onto slippery rocks, in a flood, at what felt like a 90º angle.  Jesus must have been watching over us, because somehow none of us died.  I have never felt so happy to reach the bottom of a mountain.

After getting dried off and settled into camp, we headed down to the small town bar down the street.  Now this place was interesting.  They had beer on tap for $1.25, five and six year old children running around, and a bartender who was eight months pregnant and smoking.  We hung out for a little while, then the bartender showed us a video of a tornado that was over the mountain at the same time we were coming down.  Jesus was really watching over us that day!  Life is never boring out here on the trail.  Until next time.  Four days until my birthday!



I am dedicating this hike to the orphaned children at Heart For Africa in Swaziland. For more information, I hope you visit my fundraising page at gofundme.com/st984k

To read more: Janinemaxwell.blogspot.com


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