After a late night, the kids slept later than usual, but as soon as they awoke, they sprang out of the tent to run down the hill to check if their new friend Wired had left yet. Kickapoo, doing a 28 mile day, was up and out already, but Wired, who is usually on the trail before 7, was planning a short (for her) 21 mile day, which meant that she was still packing up camp at 7:30. The kids wolfed down their bagels and cream cheese, grabbed their packs (which their dad had helpfully packed for them), and were walking out of camp with Wired less than twenty minutes after their eyes first sprung open.
Wired has quite the blog following (WalkingWithWired) and because she is on her third thru-hike (having already completed the PCT and the CDT), she has acquired lots of fancy accoutrements including a stamp of her trail name with which to sign the registers, custom m&m’s with her trademark colors and wired logo, wired stickers, and a wired hat. The kids fell in behind her and trotted off at a record pace.
Mama Bear quickly packed up the breakfast dishes and ran to catch up with her departing cubs, while All In was left to take down the tent and scan the area for any forgotten items. All In then jogged down the trail to rejoin his pack, when about a mile in (having not yet caught RobinHood and the lady folk, he realized that he had forgotten Cartwheel’s special walking stick. He dropped his pack and ran the mile back only to be informed by the hikers still packing up that Cartwheel had it with her when she departed. He then ran the mile back to his pack, grabbed it and continued jogging down the trail to catch everyone else.
By the time he caught up, he was dripping with sweat in the still humid air. The kids had been cruising at Wired’s three mile an hour pace, so they were hard to catch. The day was spent swapping stories. The kids really look up to her (RobinHood has declared that he wants to Triple Crown someday) and the parents had a great time hiking with someone their own age who also shared their hiking style. The day brought sightings of newts, tree frogs and deer. And the kids joined wired in her signature arms-spread pose.
The afternoon brought clearing skies and a lunch stop at the camping area where, last April, we started a five day loop hike during the kids’ school break. The early evening had us passing by another camp store where we enjoyed chips and salsa, ice cream and beer (as well as a long chat with the store manager, a gregarious former thru-hiker and marathon runner in the 2:14 time range) before ambling the final 0.8 miles down to our campsite for the night.
The deer walked freely through the tents and the coyotes called to each other from either side of the camping area (this just a day after one of the volunteer park service presenters talked to us about the pack like behavior that the park’s coyote-wolf hybrids have started to exhibit–including sending a female in heat down to lure male dogs back to the waiting pack). Orion was quite excited by the howling and we kept him tethered for the night (the deer also tended to avoid the area he occupied).