Friday, March 16, 2007

My Trail Angel Duty is Done

In a nutshell I had a great time and learned some cool stuff. We left early Thursday morning and met again at the same place. No hesitations or delays this time and the drive was very pretty! Fog was heavy in some areas and most of the way we encountered it to varying degrees. There was also standing water in fields and such and I knew it was going to be a wet hike for Thomas. Little did I know at the time how wet...which I only found out about today. More about that later...

We dropped off Thomas's car at the first trail head...the one he'd hike many miles back to. We then drove to a couple of different locations to stash some water and unknown to Thomas at the time, some trail notes I left for him. Nothing special...just a couple of little notes he'd find when he retrieved his cached water. He reported today that he found one of them(a riddle) but not the other, which was simply a note of encouragement that he was almost done. That one must have been lost in the leaf litter as he was pulling the water out of the pile it was hidden in.

He didn't even know the note he did find was from me. He thought someone was messing with his head because the night before he heard poacher's guns and their vehicle driving back and forth in the night not too far from his camp. In hindsight I should have signed my name on the note. It didn't occur to me that he might not know I was the one who planted it there.

After arriving at the last trail head which would be Thomas's starting point for his trip, it really hit home that the trip was going to happen. He was going to be putting in some serious mileage and I was starting to feel a little anxious for him wondering what he would be encountering "out there" because I was still concerned about the terrain conditions. He said we would walk along the trail for a couple of miles and see how it was looking. I was happy to walk a little way into the forest with him actually. I was dying to go on this trip with him in the first place, but couldn't pull it off this time around.

The instant I started walking into the woods I was immediately swept into the moment and felt a rush of emotion over come me, including that peaceful sensation that takes hold once I'm out in nature away from it all. In all honesty, I got sad as can be. I would have to tell Thomas goodbye and drive back to Austin alone, when I wanted nothing more than to accompany him on the adventure.

We walked in silence for a while before coming to a T in the trail. I wanted to keep going, but I knew the further I went in, the longer it would take me to get back to my car and the longer it would delay me getting back home and relieving Caitlin of her babysitting duties. It was hard to stop there but that is where my walk ended and Thomas's big adventure began. The trails seemed to be in great condition from what we could tell and I hugged my capable friend goodbye, told him to be careful, and that was that.

The drive back to Austin was without incident and I got home around 6pm. Being a trail angel was a good experience for me and I learned more about the mysterious LST. It was fun supporting Thomas and helping out however small my role was. He did all the real work, all I did was give him a ride.

Now about that phone call. Thomas called me today around 1pm and said he had completed his trip ALREADY! I was pretty amazed because I wasn't expecting to hear from him until either Saturday or Sunday night at the very latest. That means he powered out well over 15 miles of hiking the first day and 11 miles the next. Not only did he accomplish the distance quickly, but he had to cover it in the swamp like conditions I feared he would encounter. What a bad ass!

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