My return to the trail finds Indiana in the death grip of summer. The temperature today was in the nineties and the heat index hit triple digits. The trend is set to continue for the rest of the week. Vegas is now setting odds on whether heat stroke or dehydration will fell me first, so step up and make your wager.
My late start didn't help matters either. David drove me back to Sweetser as early as possible, but the four hour car ride and one hour lost to the time zone shift meant I was bound to begin while the sun was set to broil.
The first few miles, which I spent on the Sweetser Switch Trail, were relatively shady. The country roads I trod later on, however, put me in the bull's eye of the burning star's glare. Constant bombardment with solar rays left my energy level lower than the limbo bar at a Gumby family reunion.
Water was at least not a problem. I encountered several shocked on-lookers who filled my bottles once they were done questioning my sanity.
Not until late in the day did I reach the vicinity of Mississinewa Reservoir. Nearly everything in the nearby area is named for Frances Slocum, a white woman who was abducted by Miami Indians from her Pennsylvania home and taken to Indiana where her brothers miraculously found her almost sixty years later. Despite acquiring the distinctly unflattering moniker, Short Chubby Bear during her stay with the tribe, she considered them her real family and refused to leave to live with whitey.
As far as my own saga, things were looking ugly as I arrived at Mississinewa. Luckily, Megan, one of the employees at the Miami SRA there had seen me wobbling along and took pity on me. She and her freshly minted husband Brent drove me out to the campsites to let me choose one, took me back to the offices to sign in, and dropped me back at the chunk of turf I would call home for the night.
Megan had clearly inherited the Good Samaritan gene. Shortly after I had set up my tent her mother and father, Paul and Mel, arrived with a huge plate of food and ice cold water. They sat with me as I ate and we discussed my hike. I learned from them that the Frances Slocum SRA, where the ADT had me camping, was a dump and considered a dangerous place. I had made a seemingly random decision during the day to head toward Miami instead. Chalk up another victory for serendipity.
14 miles/996 total miles