Lone Star Hiking Trail 2015

Solo Thru Hike of the Lone Star Hiking Trail – 12/28/2014 – 1/2/2015 (Entry #5)

Journal Entry #5: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 (New Years Eve!!!)

Hike Plan #4: – Four Notch Primitive Camp to Primitive Campsite #2- 17.81 miles

Weather: Overcast again…sporadic drizzle with heavier downpours; 39 degrees

Weeks of being slightly anxious about this day is done. Remember, I breathe a sigh of relief when I am in the woods not around a ton of people. Out of the 17.3 miles today hiked, almost 7 miles of it was road walking! This is 2.5 hours on roads plus I was in camp by 3pm which is a record for me so my speed is increasing and my trail legs are kicking in nicely…The first 9 miles I completed in just under 3 hours and that is with my pack, so I was pretty happy about that as lingering the roads is not something I like to do. No pain today! Just strength and speed…my thighs are tight and leaning out and my legs remember what to do without me thinking about it…walk, step, jump…whatever the terrain under my boots require, they do now without me having to have a split second thought as to what my next step should be….that is a great place to finally get to when long distance hiking. That feeling is what backpacking is all about, where your body begins to become one with its environment…almost feeling it independently to move effortlessly without thinking about it. Awesome!!! It took 5 days on the AT for me to reach this point so almost the same amount of time….hard to explain but it is almost like my movements and reaction time become in sync with the ebb and flow of the terrain beneath my feet. Harmony!

When TX150 became visible from the trail, I headed left to Evergreen Baptist Church, the awesome church that offers up their hose for water resupply according to my guide book. Funny thing…followed the hose I had seen a few days back along to where the spigot came out of the building and guess what? No water! Great! Now what? I didn’t do a water cache because I knew I could get it here. So I walked around the church and finally found a spigot in the back and the precious nectar I needed came flowing out. Guess they didn’t specify which spigot had the water. Haha! At this point in the hike I had almost 3 miles of the 7 miles of road walk ahead of me along the busy CR945. It was rough..there was no shoulder to walk on, cars flew towards me barely moving over…so much unlike when I did my section hike on the AT as people were so used to hikers, that they naturally moved over, slowed down, stopped and offered me rides, food, whatever i needed, etc. as they approached me. Thankfully I did only have one guy in a truck stop and ask if I wanted a ride as he said it looked like I was carrying a heavy load. Ha! I sweetly said no thank you as my stop was just ahead but that i appreciated it. He asked if I was sure, and I said yes and he took off shaking his head. 

As I passed 2 cemeteries along that road walk and with my trail name being Owl (Given to me by my oldest son Joshua many years ago for his favorite Greek goddess Athena, Goddess of wisdom and military war), I thought it was kinda funny that the first headstone in view, the family name is Hoot! Plus every night an owl has made its presence known before sleep came to me in the woods. I love that and believe that hearing them was no accident. I also learned a lot about people that drive along CR945 walking that long on the road….their favorite beer is Busch Light, their favorite wine is the individual white bottles of Sutter Home and that they dispose of their dead dogs still in their dog houses in the ditches along the road…saw 2 like that. 😦 Funny the things you notice when you spend time seeing what people throw out their windows. I even came across a 4 pack of seemingly not opened Sutter Home white wine bottles and thought for a split second about how nice that would be to enjoy one when I got the camp for New Years…then I quickly realized that might not be wine in those bottles. Hahahaha! So decided to leave them in the ditch for the next hiker to contemplate whether to indulge or not. I wasn’t that desperate for a drink to find out if it was wine or other liquids less savory.

LST36

Even though observing and thinking about all the items I was seeing along the ditches of local roads was entertaining, I was glad to finally see the trailhead on the left…I really was beginning to think that it wasn’t going to show itself. A slight limp was coming on due to “the foot” but seeing the Magnolia Trailhead was a beautiful site. Whew! Then it was back into the woods for 1.5 miles before campsite #2 showed itself. Funny thing about being in the woods alone for days on end…you WILL begin to talking to yourself and very much out loud because you realize in a solitary situation where people are extremely scarce, why think your thoughts quietly when you can just belt them out? I was just talking to myself out loud as I saw the blue tent painted on the white blaze indicating camp. (In order to protect the innocent, name and details will be omitted from this story but I would be happy to give full details to anyone that wants to know more in person). As I turn the corner to head into camp, I look up and see a guy walking towards me. He introduced himself and I immediately noticed he had no wedding ring on. He claimed that I was the first person he had seen in that campsite in years which I thought was strange as folks do hike this trail pretty regularly, maybe just in a drier season is all. He asked me my name and I said Owl…he wanted my real name and I told him I don’t share that when hiking. He said he lived nearby within a dozen or so miles and asked if I wanted a warm meal and a hot bath. I politely said no thank you and explained that eating the food I brought lightens my pack and is part of my training and not showering for 6 days was also part of my training…By this time my tent was almost set up and I was sitting in its opening taking off my boots. I moved my stun gun onto my lap in clear view so I could make sure his eyes would see it. He asked me where I was from, I quickly responded Austin, Texas (not true), he asked what I did for a living and I responded that I teach concealed handgun license courses (not true)…at that moment his eyes fell to the stun gun and his questions became a little shorter as he asked about my training, my family, clearly intrigued with the fact that I was alone. I told him about my emergency beacon I carry and then I then grabbed my cell phone and told him I was going to text my husband and let him know that I just met this nice guy that offered to make me dinner. Hahaha! I then said my husband is currently in Cleveland (less than 10 miles away) with my family (not true) and were meeting me the next day on the trail. He then looked at me abruptly and said, “Well, looks like you know what you are doing and you got this. It is very interesting that you are doing this alone though. You do know it is New years Eve right? Well, have fun!”, and he quickly disappeared on a side trail behind my tent almost as quickly as he came into view when I first got there. I am sure he was a nice guy, but I never can let my guard down or take chances being a solo female hiker. I was asked when I got back if I was scared at that moment…I am never scared in situations like that…cautious and on alert yes, but with my .38 strapped to the front of me, the stun gun on my lap and my fixed blade Sog knife out of its sheath hidden under my left leg, I was as prepared as I could be at that moment to protect myself should the need arise. And if I wasn’t fast enough and something bad happened, then there would be nothing more I could have done and the plan was already set in motion anyways. These are the experiences I crave…not in the comfort zone of my “normal” life.

The rest of the night has been pretty uneventful…lots of fireworks going off and some gun shots, but they didn’t bother me…again kind of soothing to hear society continuing without me while I was in the dark quietly enjoying the thought that those folks don’t know what they were missing where I was. Like a silent bystander relishing in a secret that I had that they didn’t. My 2015 New Years dinner consisted of hot Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, 2 tortillas and a 3 vienna fingers. I hope the family is having a nice night as I have never been away from the boys for New Years. They are supposed to be a friends house for the evening celebrating but not sure if they made it or not with Brian’s surgery being just 2 days ago. Either way, wherever they and all our friends are tonight, I hope that they are enjoying their time together. I know many are camping themselves, many are out of state celebrating…so blessed to know all of you.

So, I do have to say something…folks often times reflect on their lives and things on New Years, right? Well, then I won’t be any different. 🙂 If you don’t want to really know what happens to your body when you backpack and don’t want the less glamorous details…then skip to tomorrows journal entry at this point. I always smile when I meet people that say they hike because it is just so much fun and refreshing. Now, don’t get me wrong…it is fun and refreshing, but there are aspects of backpacking that people don’t talk about….the not so fun aspects and the parts that make you want to go home. 🙂 My journals have always been real and honest so why stop now plus now I have even more friends that have done long distance hikes like the whole AT that can smile as they relate. Fun so far on this hike as been hobbling into camp after 3-20 mile days but I wouldn’t change a thing and will be soon planning the next adventure upon my arrival at home I am sure.

Backpacking is not for everyone and that is what I worry about with the popularity of books and movies like Wild…search and rescue reported last month that they have been called more in the last 3 months along the PCT than they have in over 5 years because people see this inspiring story and awesome female hiker and want to do what she did thinking that it is as easy as the movie makes it seem to be. They think they can spend a couple grand, get the best and newest gear and head to the woods. Forget about conditioning your body, actually using and learning how to use your equipment before you leave and goodness forbid if we actually get maps and study routes/terrain in detail almost to the point of memorizing routes before you leave! Be prepared people!!! Backpacking is 20% romantic and 80% pushing yourself, being smart and thus adding another notch in the experience belt. Am I saying that I have/will never get lost, get hurt, do something stupid or even die on the trail due to some type of unpreparedness? No, of course not, but I can tell you that that first step is never taken on the trail unless I feel my body is 100% ready for that challenge ahead. My gear has been checked and tested before departure and routes/weather/terrain have been painfully reviewed, highlighted, and memorized beforehand.

Remember how I mentioned that there are some points of backpacking that folks just don’t talk about? As I lay in my tent and shift my weight from one hip to the other, I have been reminded of things I had forgotten from my AT, Sierra, Cascades hikes. Like the beginning of hemorrhoids just from the pressure of carrying 40 pounds on your hips, the natural odor of not showering for 6 days, the bruises that show up on your hips, shoulders from the pack and the bruises on your inner arms from throwing your backpack onto your back, first hitting your shoulder before it finds it place on your back and then carrying it up and down ravines and inclines for 8 hours a day, the imbalance you feel when you get to camp and finally get that pack off and try to walk as your body has become one with your pack and so trying to walk without it seems unnatural, the bloody scratches on your legs and arms that you don’t even know how they got there during the day, the ticks that climb into your most private places to find refuge, the falls you take as you try to climb over fallen tree trunks/limbs that have decided to lay right over the trail you need to cross, the wet tent that you had to put up and then lay in as it drips on your face…this is backpacking ya’ll. It is awesome!! It is not giving up to the blockages in the trail with seemingly no way around or getting grossed out by pulling ticks from under your armpits or submitting to the pain that is crying out to defeat you…a backpacker is someone that can pull the ticks off, keep throwing the pack onto their back just so that it can hit the same bruises that keep getting bigger by the day just so our eyes can see new country, meet new people and experience yet another log that will ultimately cause us to be off balance and cause us to stumble. I can tell you one thing…backpacking is for this girl and I have such a passion for it, that words can’t even describe adequately in this journal. I love rubbing my quads and feeling their strength after long days, looking at my feet beaten up from hours in wet boots but knowing that they are being strengthened for another day and feeling my aerobic stamina dead on for what the challenge is. Backpacking has pushed me to the point of wanting to quit…I am never pushed in my daily life to the point of wanting to truly physically quit something…but you can’t quit out here because you are 28, 39, or 88 miles from your car. The only option is to overcome your whining, pulling something fierce from deep inside your core. Backpacking reminds me of who I am, who I am becoming, what I am here for and who I am here for…God is using me and preparing me for something big that requires me to hurt, stretch, and be uncomfortable. I am up for the challenge and am excited to see what is in store in the future.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – JM

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