Monday, May 12, 2014

Trail Magic in the Marsh

I am presently writing to you from the comforts of a lil gas station along Rt. 101, happily awaiting a veggie pizza...what a fabulously beautiful last few days it has been!

Last I wrote to you I was on the island of Ocracoke where I took a day off to enjoy the village. Here I stayed at Teeter's Campground - just a small family owned place - and Bubbie Boos was so kind as to give me the best price on the island (not easy to find a cheap place to stay). Thank you Bubbie Boos! The best part of staying at the campground, besides its short walk to nearby restaurants and hang-out spots such as Thai Moon, Live Oak Coffee, and the Ocracoke Coffee Company, was this feline friend Bumper, the campground cat, whom shared dinner with me at the picnic table and whom I woke up to outside my tent in the morning...

Bumper the cat - this lady earned her name because she was rescued as a kitten by the owner's daughter when she fell off the back of a truck passing through town. Fed by bottle and lots of love, she now calls Teeter's Campground home.
In the morning, as I left town I headed to Live Oak Coffee where I met Katy, the barista who shared some coffee with me on the front porch and sent me on my way with a gift of ginger tangerine tea. Awesome place with a laid-back vibe, local coffee, and friendly staff.

Live Oak Coffee - located in Ocracoke Village - be sure to stop in and say hi to Katy!
I then boarded the ferry for a long 2 1/2 hr tour over the Palmico Sound and over to Cedar Island - although called an island, it is still considered the mainland. Once up in the lounge area I had the pleasure of meeting some great people: Gwyn and Vernon Anderson, Lynn and John Powell, and Richard from Fort Lauderdale. There was no need to even pull out a book, as we chatted the entire time, with many a trail story and stories of friends and family. It was a pleasure to share that lil lounge with you and thank you for the donation (its feeding me right now!)

Once on Cedar Island, a long marsh walk ensued...miles and miles of nothing but a long flat road bordered by green grass and wildflowers such as Red and White Clovers, English Plantain, Fleabane, and False Garlic, which ran between two long channels of fast-flowing brown water, and marsh grasses as far as the eye could see on both sides. No shade and lots of wind, so much that I sometimes found myself being thrown this way and that. However, with only the occasional car, there wasn't anyone to really notice my seemingly inebriated stroll.

That tree you see was the ONLY tree and shade on the entire road- you bet I took a short break there! 

Greeted by this old shack, I knew I wasn't far from my destination for the night, so with finally a place to sit that wasn't in the tall grass it seemed a perfect place for a break...check out that ol' skool metal billboard on the side!

But far, far better than the shack was where I'd be staying that night...I was headed to an old friend of mine from the last time I hiked the MST, a woman and her husband that had kindly taken me in for the night, Diane and Stevie Styron.

Stevie, Diane, and Me

Here, I was immediately invited in and offered a cold glass of homemade iced tea with a touch of ginger and nutmeg and a seat on the the air conditioning mind you! Then it was lots of laughter through the night and catching up on the last few years. I even found out Diane has some family in the very town I've been living in in NY (and no one knows where that town is!) In the morning, Diane and I were called by Stevie to come outside if we wanted to get a look at somethin' cool. All of us being as quiet as could be made our way down the path that goes through the woods in their backyard to wide open plains of marsh grass and a deep ditch with shallow water that ran, again, for miles in either direction. There in the ditch we had a visitor of the alligator kind...about 6 feet long.

After that excitement it was a tour of the backwoods and of Diane's veggie garden, while also taking a look at all the wild edibles growing on the front lawn such as Wild Onion, Dandelion, and Pennywort. Sometime the night before I had mentioned going to a couple's house that was listed in the guidebook as a friendly place to camp...turned out it was Diane's mother's house! Considering this, Diane suggested that a slackpack may be in order. Awesome. I got to do 11 miles without a pack and a whole day to simply take my time.

I ended up spending the night in Arlene and John Wood's house and made to feel like one of the family. I met Diane's brother, Kelly and her uncle, Bobby. Veggie burgers and macaroni salad and good conversation went on until late and we had to hit the hay. I also got a tour of her backyard with it's herbs and blueberries and kale and onions, with the sweet smell of Honeysuckle permeated the air.

Thank you so much, Diane and family!!! You are truly a gift to the trail.

To finish up this blog, I'd like to feature just a few more faces of trail magic...they are of the animal variety, but they deserve to be featured nonetheless because they put a smile on my face, well almost all of them...

I met this beauty not long after getting off the Cedar Island Ferry. She was with four others in a pasture right on the main road. After some good pets on the nose, she insisted on following me down the trail as long as her fencing would allow her.

This guy who sat on the edge of the road through the marshland ( I moved him a lil closer to the water) was unfortunately a bit camera-shy
These butterflies were abundant on the grassy trail headed towards Frisco Campground (still on the Outer Banks) They fluttered and flittered up and down the trail. Here, this one sits on Bull Thistle.
Jacob the Cat enjoying a good rub on the trekking poles at Davis Provisions- a super hiker-friendly store along the MST in the tiny town of Davis

And lastly, this is the one that didn't bring a smile to my face - luckily my trekking poles found him before I did while hiking feverishly down the sandy trail just before Frisco Campground (also on the Outer Banks) But I do believe he's still a bit of trail magic - awesome to have seen him and to have stayed out of his way!
My friend, Pixie, told me in a text message on one of my first days out to, "find some magic out there!" I told her it was everywhere out here and that I was bound to find some...look Pixie, look, it is!

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