June 16: Today I jumped ahead to a more westerly section in order to give my family a walk less polluted with eighteen wheelers to traverse when they arrive Friday. Therefore Mike dropped me off at Nipgen, about thirteen miles past Alma in trail terms, and I commenced the day's journey.
The first half of the trek was spent going around Pike State Park. In the back country there I had a couple of scary dog encounters. First I met a pack of six canines of varying sizes wandering on the road outside of what I assumed was their owner's property. They were very aggressive towards me, but I was able to back them off by pretending I wasn't afraid of them.
Later I turned to my right to see a massive German Shepherd headed towards me at full speed, yelping, snarling, and drooling all the way. Time stood still as he continued on a path straight toward me, closing the hundred yards between us in no time. Again I was able to stand up big and tall and yelled in my most intimidating voice, "No!" He too quit his approach and stayed away from me. I am growing more confident in my ability to deal with these situations. Regardless, less fortunate hikers and mailmen will tell you it only takes one crazy dog to make for a very, very bad day.
The second half of the day was spent eating up highway between Latham and Sinking Springs. I was a little lethargic for that stretch after having been forced to devour an ice cream sandwich, my fatal weakness. I did eventually waddle into S.S. land around 4:30 and called it a day. Slack-packing (= awesome) enabled me to chew up a great deal of miles, twenty one in fact. I am now over 700 miles (707).
Mike picked me up and we hurried back to Chillicothe, where the local semi pro baseball team was playing that evening. They got their brains beat in, but we enjoyed some free chicken and hamburgers as well as dollar beers. Rain had threatened in the form of ugly black clouds earlier, but we were lucky enough to get the rainbow without the waterworks.
We left after the fifth inning with things looking bleak for the hometown Paints and headed to Cross Keys Tavern. A Dixieland jazz band has played there for over thirty years with an evolving cast of members. They thrilled the crowd with tunes like "Mac the Knife" and "It's a Wonderful World." The delicious Kentucky Bourbon Ale they had on tap seemed to improve my ears' impression of the sounds as well. They closed with the "Mickey Mouse Club Theme" at ten thirty and we called it a night. Or so they tell me.
22 miles/707 total miles