Who has the keys?!
Wednesday, May 21st 2014
AT Segment Hike 6 – West Mombasha to Lakes Road
The day started off with us getting lost. Yup, we got lost before we even started; it was my fault. I was driving, leading the way, and I was too busy talking to Terri instead of paying attention to where we were going. We were heading to West Mombasha; we were there just last week, so I figured I knew the way already. Well, somewhere, I made a wrong turn and we ended up going too far out of the way. I pulled over with Russ right behind me and got a bit of a scolding. Since we were already almost to our endpoint, Lakes Road, we decided we would park Russ’ car there and then circle back to park my car at West Mombasha and start from there instead. This would leave us going Southbound, against the thru-hiker traffic, which was fine by me.
The terrain on this hike was forgiving, however as we started off we had no idea. We all kept our mouths shut about the ease of the trail until almost the very end in fears of jinxing ourselves. We hiked for about 20 minutes before reaching our first real ascent. It took us about another 20 minutes to get to about 1,340ft (from 900ft) in a gradual leisurely climb.
The hike so far was pretty uneventful, then we ran into thru-hikers. It’s always exciting running into others on the trail, especially thru-hikers. For those of you who don’t know, ‘thru-hikers’ are those who are endeavoring to complete the entire trail in one shot. Leading the way was a black little pup, whom we later found out was a female rat terrier. She was called ‘Big Hungry’. She was the cutest little thing and so excited to be on the trail. She didn’t pay too much attention to us, she seemed more interested in the sticks laying around as she chewed and played with them.
Her owner, ‘Pack’, had been on the trail since March 1st. He was a happy-go-lucky kinda guy who also completed the Pacific Crest Trail prior to taking on the Appalachian Trail. He had a job in San Francisco, California that he grew sick of and decided to give it up. He’s now taken up trail hiking and joked, “The cost of living is very cheap.” He has a good point and there’s something to be said for that.
Pack’s trail-mate, ‘Pilfer’, had been in the trail since February 1st. She and Pack did not know each other before starting the trail, but had met along the way and decided to hike together. This is the way it goes on the trail. You meet so many people and sometimes, you decide to hike together, for a while if not the rest of the way.
We took a picture of the two, however I had to do a little Photoshop to censor a certain portion of the picture (let’s just say that someone was not wearing a bra). I’m sure she would appreciate the effort.
A short while after we ran into another thru-hiker, an older gentleman whom we saw when we parked Russ’ car at Lakes Road. ‘Sixes’ was making his way Northbound. We got the story of how he came upon his trail name. Sixes started hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2006 when he was 66 years old. It took him a total of 6 years to complete the entire hike. Now at 69-years old, he’s attempting a thru-hike. Russ went to shake his hand, but Sixes explained that you don’t shake hands while on the trail, because you never know, “…what we’re carrying…”. For your reading pleasure, here are 32 other things that you may not understand unless you are a thru-hiker http://www.appalachiantrials.com/33-things-thru-hikers-appalachian-trail-understand/ (the shaking hands thing is #32 on this list).
We hiked for another hour when we ran into another thru-hiker (it was a busy day). He was a hiker on a mission, taking giant strides and making the trek look like a race. Even his attire gave us the impression that he was trying to make some good time, looking more like he was running a marathon rather than hiking a trail with his short little shorts. We were amazed at the speed in which he was moving. He did stop, however, to talk to us a few minutes. This guy’s name was ‘Swiper’, given to him by his 3-year old son. The name is from the children’s cartoon television series ‘Dora the Explorer’. After looking it up, because I have no idea about these things, Swiper is the main antagonist of the show and appears in nearly every single episode. He is a sneaky orange fox. As his name implies, Swiper steals or attempts to steal key items that help Dora on her adventures. Pretty funny!
Along the way, occasionally, we encountered check-points (not sure what exactly they are called, but they often contain maps and/or sign-in sheets).
A little over 3 miles into the hike, we hit Fitzgerald Falls. There was a stairway that descended parallel to the falls and made for quite an easy trip to the bottom. If I were climbing up from the other direction, I would have called it the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, but apparently there is a loop hike in NJ that is already using that name (http://www.njhiking.com/best-hikes-in-nj-stairway-to-heaven-appalachian-trail/). We took our time here to enjoy the beauty of the falls.
Our hike abruptly came to an end after leaving the falls. We were expecting it to go on a little longer and we were a little sad to have it over with, however what came next added a little drama to the day. We couldn’t have a hike without any drama!
We approached Russ’ car and waited for him to pull out the keys to unlock the doors. He turned to Terri and asked if she had the keys. “No.” she said.
I quipped, “Well, I don’t have them.” (smart-ass!).
He looked again in his bag and then again he asked Terri if she had them. “No, Russ, you didn’t give them to me.”, Terri resounded.
He went to the driver-side door and looked in the car as Terri rolled her eyes at him. He didn’t see it, but I did too and Terri kinda huffed as Russ came back around to the rear of the car where he had his rucksack sitting on the trunk. I giggled, because it was quite comical. I find everything funny these days.
I said, “Did you leave them in my car?”
He said, “No. I had them.”
“Are we going to have to hike all the way back?”, I asked.
Terri said, “Well, at least it’s not that far if we have to.”
“You girls can hike back and then come and get me.” (yeah right) Russ proceeded to empty the entire contents of his backpack and finally exclaimed, “Here they are! Found them!
I proceeded to use the “R” word that is politically incorrect to use nowadays and made a sound to emphasize my use of the naughty word. “Shut up.” is all Russ had to say about that.