Distance: 3 miles
Number of times we caused a waitress to say 'you're welcome' to us: 19
Today was, in American hiking parlance, a nero day. A zero is when you don't walk any trail miles. A nero is when you have most of the day off. I think most neroes are longer than this one, mind!
The day started, after a good night's sleep, with a quick modification to the tent. There's a short carbon pole which runs perpendicular to the ridge pole, just to hold out the sides of the tent, and we like to remove it to pack the tent such that it will fit in the top of Mick's pack. The problem we've had is that when that carbon pole gets warm, it expands such that we can't get it into or out of its pocket. A needle, some thread and a small piece of the webbing from my hipbelt saw an extension added to its pocket - which was the only solution we could see in the absence of a hacksaw to shorten the pole.
A huge breakfast and supermarket shopping took up much of the morning and it all became a bit of a rush to vacate our motel room by the noon kick-out time (having established that a late check out wasn't possible).
We then had a few hours to kill as the day was hot and we didn't want to be getting back to the trail until about 4pm. Denny's proved to be as good a place as any to sit for a couple of hours or so (bottomless glasses of pop, free wifi, tasty salads), until the time came to find our bus.
Well, they don't label their bus stops well (or at all, actually), and none of the 17 people waiting there could confirm that the bus we wanted went from there. That it was 40 minutes late arriving didn't help our fear that we were in the wrong place, but eventually it did come and half an hour later we were dropped right at the trail.
Anyone paying great attention to the miles will notice that we've omitted eight trail miles. It's something that we will only come to regret if we find, at some point in the future, that we've walked all of the rest of the trail and have to come back here just for that 8 miles. Today it made sense to omit them for two reasons: 1) doing so turned a 25-mile waterless stretch* into a more manageable 17 miles; and 2) even though it's hard to get into town from mile 566, it's the easiest place to get back to, thanks to the friendly bus company.
As you'll notice, we didn't walk very far once we did get back on the trail. Mick's plan had been to do five miles, but after 3 we came across a flat pitch, sheltered by a big bush and I convinced Mick that we should take it in case there wasn't anything as good in 2 miles time (which almost guarantees that there will be something idyllic). At least we don't now need to carry such heavy packs up the hill ahead of us - some water will have been drunk and food eaten by the time we set out tomorrow. The bags were very heavy today as we set out with five and a bit days of food and too much water.
Since we stopped, thru-hikers Raisin and Shivers and Bam have passed by. I'm not sure who is who of Shivers and Bam, but she's wearing the same shoes as me and I bumped into him in the laundry yesterday, at which time he was wearing a down jacket and a rain skirt. They're the only other couple we've come across so far.
It's now just gone 7.30pm and that's bed time so I'd best get some shut-eye, ready for an early start tomorrow (when it's forecast hot again).
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