I woke up today close to one of the few shelters on the trail. There were a million people. Maybe even two million. I woke up to the ringing, high voice of a woman. It was just the right pitch to carry, and her baby voice with the rise at the end of every sentence was so loud in my ears. I wished for the voice trainer in that movie In a World to drop in and help us all.
Ashland is one of the huge stopping places for us hikers, and with so many of us stopping for days (and even weeks!) we seem to have created quite the bottleneck. Finding an open campsite is a challenge, and there are so many new faces.
This can be lovely, as company is usually appreciated, and it also can be terrible. People are hiking this trail for all sorts of reasons: love, fitness, and partying. The party people are the ones I try to avoid like the plague. But now, with the Ashland squish up, it sometimes becomes a challenge to avoid, avoid, avoid.
We walked fast over crazy black rock, thrown about in beautiful jumbles. We were on a mission: 10 miles to ice cream at the Fish Lake Resort. I was hoping that Boomerang would appear as well (even though the bike is back in the shop waiting for a cable), which made me try to keep up with Felix’s insane 3.5 mph pace.
We got to the resort around 1.30pm, just in time for three cups of coffee, a milkshake, a burger, and a salad. We ate outside, warding off the mad chipmunks who worked together to try and steal our food (not sneakily at all!). There was a chipmunk who was so fat, everyone who saw it pointed and laughed. It didn’t seem to mind, it just kept on trying to munch through my snack sack.
We finally pealed ourselves away from the delightful porch and endless supply of food and hit the trail again — another 11 miles was in our future, starting at 4pm. Felix flew through the woods, setting that ridiculous pace, and I kept up because we were playing a game: pancakes versus waffles. In the game you pick one, and keep choosing which item you need more in the universe. When you pick one, the other choice vanishes from existence. Our universe was all underground, without sound, use of legs, or solid or flavored food. We did, however, have puppies.
The miles flew by with the game and then the romance that is the latest in my audiobook whirlwind tour. It is called Seduced by Sunday, and I am hoping it will be worth the eight hours of listening in the end.
As the light was extinguished from the world we came upon our campsite. Taken! We walked up the trail to find two more taken. Yikes! Finally, after straying a little further than we liked from the spring we need to visit in the morning, we found a plot of flat ground in this tangle of wilderness.
It was a glorious day, and I can’t help slipping into sleep with the taste of milkshake still on my lips.