The first thing I said this morning was “bugger”. I said that a few times followed by “I’m late”. It was still dark but I now only had 12 hours to do 24 miles to reach the post office and my memory cards. As it happens the trail was pretty easy and I was cheered by the great view of Castle Crags (or as I prefer to misunderstand: Craig’s Castle).
There was a considerable climb but tackling it early and in the shade helped a lot. I would have flown up it if I knew what was waiting for me in Castella. Just before the road I found LumberJack’s bag of plums. They were all fresh and I took as many as I could. With a pocketful of fruit I started the walk to ‘town’. As soon as the plums were gone I started finding blackberries and had a hand full of them when I got a lift from a nice girl who works at the park so by 2pm I was unwrapping the two mystery packages. From Ireland I got a Baileys truffle bar and a card which I’ll read at the top of tomorrow’s ascent (Tuesday was 1,000ft, Wednesday was 2,000ft, tomorrow is 4,000ft. I don’t like the way this is heading).
In the other packet was a memory card that almost brought me to tears right there at the post office. Videos from a night at my old flat with my friends, from my family and even the guys (and gals) from work. I was grinning the whole way through and especially when they were going to drive to the local chinese take-away. “I hate walking” said Sam “let’s take five cars!”, Shardonnay with her “mmmm, food we didn’t have to carry” and Tony with his “oohhh, I’ve been on my feet all day”. Yeah whatever dude!
After a few really tough days it was exactly what I needed. Thank you so much to everyone involved. I’ll be keeping that card with me the rest of the way. Even if I have to use it to take photos I won’t be erasing the videos. I miss everyone back there so much, I miss everything. Yes even work. I’ll miss the trail when I’m done too but for a while this afternoon I was wishing I had just 200 miles to go and not 1200. Still, there are many high times ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing BlueSky and Vortex in a few days. Having someone to hike with is nice and since Lucky Joe just took a few more days off to visit his woman it’ll be a while before I see him again.
Panther, Bear Bait and the other Billy Goat were at the Castella gas-station/minimart too. We swapped spare food, ate a lot of ice cream and generally hung out. It took me until almost sunset to return to the trail (because I stopped to pick more blackberries). As I neared one of the very few houses on this road a lady and her little daughter were watching me,
“Are you going back to the trail?”
“Yes I am. 1500 miles now”
“1500, it’s worth it for these berries”
– she translates into American for her daughter –
“Well done, where ya from?”
“Good luck, good bye”
I waved and carried on down the road. It was like having my own little cheer squad 🙂
Then I found myself the victim of a Simon-Says game that I didn’t know I was in. Try this:
“You enter by a locked gate, and immediately turn left (south) on an old road. North, it goes 80 yards to refreshing Root Creek. You follow this narrowing road, hiking under pleasant shade of…”
I kept walking south, then a bit west, re-reading this trying to figure out if I’d missed a turning. I’d seen no creek and though the definition of a road has always been sketchy this was just a good flat path. I finally worked out that the road goes north, the trail does not. A subtle distinction but once I’d spotted it I walked on, found the next trail junction and set up camp to watch, and rewatch, those awesome little clips. I really feel like I can’t thank you enough. I’ll be back home in early October but until then I’m glad to have you all in my bag too.
p.s. Fresh fruit is the business. That and Baileys chocolate.
p.p.s. In all the excitement in town I forgot to edit yesterday’s entry to include how I set up the inflatable pink flamingo tent stake to cheer me up after that exhausting day. It’s just the most useless gear ever and putting it up made me smile.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Old Station to Castle Crags