Tenting to Windsor Furnace Shelter – 33.9 miles
I am up at 4:00 AM and hiking 40 minutes later. I slept great! There’s just something about a tent. Going forward, I’ve decided to tent as often as possible in order to get an even better sleep, even though it’ll take longer to break camp in the morning.
It is another solid day. It’s a fairly easy hike to Port Clinton for the Post Office. The descent into town is crazy steep with no switchbacks. It’s walkable, not rock climbing or bouldering, but the steepest part of the entire trail. Thank goodness it is not raining or wet; it’s bad enough with the loose stones and leaves. I am basically scree running down the mountain.
I get to the Post Office about 3 PM. When I receive my mail, the Post Master is very nice. He asks if I need anything, tells me I can refill my water at an employee’s house down the street, and I can leave my pack here while I walk down the street to the Peanut Shoppe.
This awesome homemade candy shop is the only place to get snacks. I get some juju, sour, and sugary Easter candy since its buy one get three free. I consider the buy one pound get two pounds free, but I have too much food already. I almost forgot to get my favorite beverage of the trail: root beer. I have five days of food to get me the two days to Delaware Water Gap. I sit outside the Post Office while I eat, drink, and pack my resupply.
As I’m packing, an older, retired man starts chatting with me. He says he’s a retired federal agent who worked undercover on the streets of D.C., and he speaks several languages. (I don’t know how we get onto this.) I ask if he was in the FBI and he replied with “Yeah, something like that.” I also ask how/why he retired up here (Port Clinton seems in the middle of nowhere compared to being in Washington, D.C.) and he said, “It’s quiet up here, and well, you never know who might be looking for you” (as his voice trails off). He seems legit based on the manner of the exchange.
He’s impressed that I’m out here solo and even more impressed that I have a wife who let me! I know; me too! (about the wife part). Once again, I reiterate how awesome my wife is. He agrees.
The sky looks like a storm is brewing, so I get going to the shelter. Hopefully, I’m there before the rain. The kind man tells me to be safe and watch out for the coyotes.
There is a steep climb out of town, but not nearly as bad as the descent into town. It looks like I am going to be by myself at the shelter.
Cool Breeze arrives just before dark. As I figure, he came from town. He is super depressed. He broke up with his hiking partner, Prefontaine, last night. Apparently there were lots of beers and lots of tears last night in town. They had been hiking together since February 2, over three months! This is day one by himself. He is really bummed and such a downer. Apparently, Prefontaine wanted to start doing bigger, 20+ mile, days all the way to Katahdin.
Cool Breeze has been talking none stop since getting here. I can’t concentrate and I’m forgetting what I want to write because he can’t take a hint that I am in my bag, with my back turned to him, writing in my journal by headlamp. C’mon dude! He doubts if he’ll even make it to Katahdin by himself (not with that attitude). I give him some words of encouragement.
Today I realize that I feel really great, maybe the strongest I’ve felt since the start. I have good shoes, good feet, good ankles, good knees and shoulders, and I am super fit. Everything feels really good right now.