"Boys, it's bear country.", or so said the old coot out hunting in his beat up pickup truck. Jon said it must have been the same guy who was shining his high beams into our camp at 4 o'clock this morning, when I was dead to the world. Jon said he was a little freaked at first, scenes from the film Deliverance flashing briefly in his head, but then he just rolled over and went back to sleep. I guess our response to him could have been, "Well, they don't seem to be bothering us." I mean Jon and I have been on the trail for nearly a month together and we have literally seen neither hide nor hair. I think some people who watch too many episodes of When Animals Attack or Hunter/Hunted begin to think that that type of aggressive animal behavior is an everyday occurrence. It's not!
After breaking camp, we disappeared into the woods as the path meandered through its very narrow confines. It was a tight squeeze through some of the thickets, which appeared as if somebody wielding a machete had hastily cut a path just big enough for him. The ground of the reroute was a little rough as well, but it sure beat more miles on a road. We eventually emerged in backwoods suburbia where contractors are building cheap homes with somewhat more expensive looking brick facades. Hope they can find buyers. While passing a rural speedway as we approached the 87, we lifted our eyes and saw the flashing lights of highway patrol cars in the distance. As we reached the highway intersection we could tell that the road had been closed because traffic was being rerouted. I asked a patrolman if we could proceed on foot, but he told me that would not be possible. Due to an accident, the highway bridge had been closed since 6 o'clock that morning. An eighteen wheeler, a half-ton truck and a Mitsubishi Eclipse had collided and there had been a fatality. I could only assume it had been the driver of the passenger car. Clean-up crews were still on the scene and the officers were hoping that they would be finished within ninety minutes. Until then, we'd just have to wait.
I took a seat in a shady spot near the side wall of the corner Citgo station to wait it out like many others sitting in their cars in the small parking lot. Jon went in and got a frankfurter and soda. Might as well be comfortable. I think to everyone's surprise the bridge opened up sooner than expected. The patrol cars blocking the road drove off and we were free to go on our way. Walking across it, we can see where material had been laid down to try and soak up the fuel spill. The bridge spans the Yellow River and once you get to the other side the trail turns off to the right and then basically parallels the highway.
The afternoon turned hot, sapping what little strength remained in me. At one point I lay down on a nice patch of grass and just stared up into the blue of the heavens. Jon joined me for a nice long rest. After three quarters of an hour we arose and pushed the final miles into camp. I was exhausted and shitted out. Had enough strength left to eat a tuna packet and three tortillas. Didn't have much of an appetite to be honest. What intestinal trials await me tonight I wonder?