Buzz cut

To maintain my social distancing Justin cut my hair. Or shall I say he “buzzed it off” to 1/4″. It feel so much cooler now and very manageable. It feels like I have some hair when I rub it with my hand, but looking at this picture it looks as if I don’t have any at all. Ha! And I love the look on his face. It’s the “OMG What Have I Done to my Dad” look.

Supported hiking

This is a first. My son offered to keep me safe and isolated during to the COVID-19 Pandemic while I hike so he’s going to support me. I will stay on the trail (not go into towns to keep them and me safe) whereas he’ll precede me to the next meeting point. He’ll carry all the resupplies along with a roof top tent and SHOWER – yup a 4.5 gallon pressurized water with a nozzle shower. He drove from California to Austin to pick me up. Also he got a COVID-19 test before he left, which was negative. Together we’ll drive to South Pass City WY where I’ll start hiking and he’ll drive to our next meet-up (see Plan). Hike, meet, repeat…

Just arrived in Austin with Columbus Autohone (white clamshell attached to roof rack)
A test drive with his sweetheart a few days before with the roof tent popped up. They said the view is great from up there!
The shower is the black pipe (black to help with solar heating). It holds about 4.5 gallons of water with a spigot and nozzle at the end. The “T” in the middle is where you fill it with water and there is an air valve so you can pump it up for a pressured shower experience. Slick!
My son, Justin, standing under the shower nozzle shortly after assembling it and mounting it to the roof car rack. I think by now you should have gotten the idea that a supported hike is quite different than normal.

Equipment and supplies preparation

Each hike requires a certain amount of equipment. I already have most of the stuff, but things wear out and I’ve got to replace them. For example, shoes. On the AT I started with lightweight trail runners and later switched to a hiking boot. So online I purchased one pair of Brooks Cascadia 14 Trail-Running Shoes and two pair of Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes. Along with them I got a new Petzl rechargeable head lamp and Inova microlight for use in my tent.

Just a small sample of the equipment I recently bought for the section hike.

Then there is consumables, such as food. For example, dehydrated dinners and other items, for example, cherry Tootsie Roll Pops – yup only cherry – sixty of them – Yum!

About 50 dehydrated dinners and 60 cherry Tootsie Roll Pops for dessert

I can’t say I have everything, but I have enough to get started. Then it’ll be up to me and Justin to fill in anything missing when we’re on the trail.

Physical preparation

Since I committed to this section hike I’ve been physically preparing. This includes wearing a 25 lbs. weight vest and hiking up and down hills. Although Austin TX is relatively flat my first choice is Mount Bonnell.

Heading up Mount Bonnell

Along with the vest, I wear a cap for the sun and earphones to listen to books and podcasts. It also includes me wearing my COVID-19 face mask when encountering people, but if no one is around I remove it so I can breathe.

Suited up and ready to rumble

By the time I’m a big ball of sweat. Thanks Austin for the humidity!

Scared out of my mind

In my hotel room I unloaded my pack and made sure I have everything. Then I filled up my two Platypus water bags with 5L and my two front bottles with 1.4L. That’s 14 pounds of water. My pack is so heavy and big that I’m freaking out. The first day is always the hardest, but I’m very worried especially about my right heel. All I can do is try…

Econo Lodge

At about 4:20 PM the train pulled into Lordsburg. No station, just a road crossing. Thanks to Google Maps I walked about 20 minutes and TA-DA I’m now checked in to the Econo Lodge. So after a disrupted start I’m now back on schedule. Just as I got here I met Radar who is Peru’s friend and he said I was the ONLY person on the shuttle tomorrow at 6:30 AM. Although he drove today he was hoping that he wouldn’t tomorrow. Oh, and the weather is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and cloudy. Great hiking weather.

Sleep and a new day

I boarded the train at about 12 midnight. My Roomette is about 4×10 feet and Brian, the steward, converted it into a bed. Within minutes I undressed and laid down. I slept and was awoken as the train got underway. The car jiggled and swayed as I slept and woke. I could see light coming through my drawn curtains. I looked at my phone to see it was 7 AM. I got up. Meals are included and I had a Continental Breakfast. I sat with a couple and another man who chatted about how expensive it was living in California and who had moved to a small town in Texas. Pleasant light conversation helped make the meal enjoyable. Now I’m back in my Roomette which had been converted to seats. It’s nice to sit and stare out the window watching the world pass by. Desert, scrub brush, sand, hills all pass by. Only a few more hours until Lordsburg and the next step on my journey.

Waiting for the train

So I’m killing time at the San Antonio train station. I’m killing a lot of time. I’ve just killed 1 hour. Only 10 more to go. The only positive thing to look forward to is that I’ve reserved a Roomette. Whatever that is. Maybe it’ll have a bed. Any bed will do. I’m not picky. But I’ll only have it from 2:45 AM to try to sleep so it might be a short lived luxury. Time will tell. Oh, have I told you that I now have on 9 hours and 45 minutes. I can’t wait. Actually I can wait. I must wait. I will wait. Sigh!