Mile 1260 To 1241
I wake to a stiff knee and pop some Ibuprofen. I am hoping the trail and the pain will not be a repeat of the last two days. Although the tent is wet, I take time for a Starbucks Via coffee. I even treat myself to two Little Debbie’s. I am clearly giving myself every chance at success.
The trail starts with a couple of miles up. My knee feels surprisingly good. After some meandering ups and downs, the trail drops from 6,000 feet to 3,000 feet in seven miles. It was a huge down that broke me, then a monster up that did me in. Today, however, on this mountain rollercoaster I am holding my own. I would like to think that after two days, and about 50 miles of hell, my body has realized my determination and called off this painful nonsense. Arrogance and ignorance are dangerous friends. Instead, I am going to say it is trail magic and thank my lucky stars.
We stop to dry out our tents and bags by the river. I even soak my feet and rinse out my socks. It is better than any resort spa, just me and clear flowing water.
As we hike up a 2,000 foot climb, we encounter father and son fishermen, loading their truck. When they ask for and hear our story, they feel compelled to offer us apples, water and Cliff bars. They have instantly become trail angels by providing us trail magic. They also tell us of their own adventures by the river, involving multiple bear encounters. Based on the size of the scat we have been seeing on the trail, it is a very large male indeed.
After crossing several dirt roads, Klutz, Mountain Goat and I find a flat spot to pitch our tents. Country Mouse, Shadow, and Beaver later setup camp on the other side of the trail. I cook and eat dinner, again hiding from the mosquitoes.
Then real magic happens! Out of nowhere, someone is rattling something in a bottle and asking for Rick. I peer out my tent, and there standing before me, with a bottle of Advil, is my wife Terri. She has not seen me in over 50 days, and after having read the draft post about my knee, she drove 4 hours to provide some trail magic. Using my SPOT beacon, and some remote support from son Daniel and brother in-law Tom, Terri was able to track me down. She parked the car on a remote dirt road, and using her Android phone GPS and my check in coordinates, she hiked in to find me.
I hike with her back to the car and return with magic to share with everyone: orange juice, cherries, chocolate milk, Coke, and other random items. Everyone is totally amazed at the effort and ingenuity to track me down. But mostly they just smile and chomp on handfuls of cherries.
As quickly as she arrives, she disappears. She has a long ride home, and this little side trip was not really in her schedule. I would give up all the trail magic for one more hug. The whole thing is like a crazy dream. I will wake tomorrow unsure if she was really here.