Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lost and Found

June 6: Another difficult day started innocently enough. I strapped on Dave's apparatus and left the Brethren church, my home for the last two evenings. I made my long-awaited entrance into Chesterhill four miles later and hit Ernie's for the cheapest breakfast I have found yet. Three dollars for biscuits and gravy, plus two pancakes on the side. I couldn't even finish, quite a rarity for this calorie-devouring hiker.
I went across the street and said goodbye to Betty at the bank where she works. I don't know where I would be without the help of her of Dave.
My intended destination was just north of Burr Lake. The ADT manual claims a campsite is located there. The walk was easy at first, heading on a lightly traveled highway, passing by farms of all shapes and sizes. I spotted my first horse and buggy sign, alerting me that I was in the land of the Amish.
Before long I saw them in the flesh, a family of six tending the crops with their pimped out buggy standing idly by, waiting to be called upon. I waved, but they did not seem to notice my presence. Later on, a young Amish man passed me, his long black bird looking as if it were taped onto his face. He waved to me and gave a big smile - I don't think he had ever experienced the thrill of passing someone on the highway before.
Shortly thereafter I met Debora who filled my water and talked with me about the project. She drove up behind me later on her ATV and gave me a donation and the most delicious apple I have ever eaten.
The route grew more challenging as I neared the park on back roads. I missed a turn, but the Google maps I had printed were a life-saver, allowing me to re-route and return to the trail.
As you have probably already guessed, the area north of Burr did not possess the promised camping area. I saw on my map of Burr Oak Lake there was definitely a site at Boat Dock #3, three more miles ahead on the Burr Loop Trail.
I was tired after nearly twenty miles, but with water supplies low I felt I had to press onward. One mile into the loop I ran into a road. I followed the blazes to see where the trail re-started, but I could not find the re-entry point where the blazes petered out.
I walked down the road only to find a dead end half a mile away. The houses were all empty, weekend getaways with their owners absent for another few days, this being Monday. I briefly considered back-tracking to get help, but I had seen no one for the last two hours of walking. I was in a state of panic, with little water and little idea what to do. Then, as I paced back and forth I noticed something I had missed. Several feet behind some mail boxes was the trail - I had just assumed they were in front of a private property and had not examined the area thoroughly enough. There were no blazes on the mail boxes - you had to be directly in front of them to see those in the woods behind.
I plunged back into Burr Loop, racing against the fading sun. The two miles seemed to take hours, the brush closed around me, not allowing a glimpse of where I was on the lake. I slipped once and fell, moved on, but had to backtrack when I noticed a water bottle missing. Adrenaline pumping, I gained a level of energy I shouldn't have had given my fatigue.
I pushed forward, praying for the opening that would indicate the dock. Then, suddenly, there it was. I was near tears to see the water fountain and gorged myself on its contents. When a young lady and her grandmother pulled up moments later, I told them my story and they offered to take me to the lodge. Having slept in the open for a week, I gave into the temptation and acquiesced.
Twenty two miles later I find myself in a warm bed with 586 clicks under my belt, shaken but not yet beaten.

22 miles/586 total miles


Debora said...

Followed up on your travels after talking to you...very entertaining.
Hope the weather and people are kind to you. Looking forward to more adventures. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Quite a tale!

love, dad

Alastair McCandless said...

Thank you so much for your help and your donation Debora. As you can tell, I needed every drop of the water you gave me and the apple sure was delicious. I will do my very best to keep you entertained, but hopefully not by nearly getting myself killed :)