Monday, August 25 – Canton, KS

Today was one of those “two steps forward, one step back” days. Or maybe it was “one step forward, two steps back.” I’m not going to candy coat this day for you. This is how it actually went. I was there.

I arrived at the tire store at 7 AM which didn’t open until 9 AM. I was second in line and the repair cost all of eight dollars.
Since we camped at Council Grove Lake so many days, we had to move the trailer about 60 miles this morning to catch up where we needed to hike today, further delaying today’s hike. Of course, we needed to stop for gas along the way.

By the time we set up and drove back to where we needed to start hiking, it was after 2 PM. We started at the Cottonwood Crossing northeast of Canton, the town where we will end the day. In 1846, the Crossing was a muddy place and it took a lot of manpower to get across. It’s easy to imagine the wagons being roped down the bank, pushed and pulled across, then roped back up the other side. Pretty place.

But then, every so often there have been experiences on Trek that make me feel “unstuck in time” to use Kurt Vonnegut’s phrase. For instance: I’m walking along, watching the ridgeline off to my left for evidence of wagon ruts, thinking 1846 thoughts and my cell phone rings. Not strange because we get lots of phone calls. The phone number shows as “000” for the area code – and that is a little strange. The caller identifies himself as Elder Follett, a Battalion descendant. It’s always nice to hear from the descendants, so we chat for a few minutes before he mentions that he’s calling from EASTER ISLAND in the south Pacific. I have a strange moment of time & space disconnection. Can you imagine what the Battalion members would think about that? It made me shake my head.

Denny is a trooper. Even with her blister, she insists on helping “leap frog” hike today because of the late start. With 18 miles, I don’t argue, but I do ask how she’s doing frequently. We just keep hiking and the cooler day (low 80’s) with low humidity makes it a fairly comfortable day. Except I’m still having lingering distress from last week. You don’t want to know. Let’s just say, a step back, shall we?

About 3 PM, I realize that I don’t have the GPS tracking unit either on my belt or in my haversack, so I check with Denny and she doesn’t have it either. We check the support truck inside out and the trailer. No dice. We’ve lost our GPS dog, Spot. Two steps back.

Then Elder Follett from EASTER ISLAND calls me back to find out why we aren’t moving on the tracking page. “Did you fall in the water at the lake” he asks (as I have another disoriented moment in time). So I explain the lost tracking unit and that we won’t have live tracking until we find it or replace it. One step forward – someone actually cares.

Marion County’s Santa Fe Trail chapter has done a great job of marking all their roads and producing a nice brochure detailing the SFT places in their county.

\Today is the first time we’ve had to hike past sundown, but it was a beautiful sunset, so we didn’t mind so much. Besides, we beat the day instead of it beating us. One step forward.

And, I spot a cute skunk at the roadside. I manage to get some fair pictures (nothing fantastic) but one daren’t approach too close, should one? Getting sprayed would be a couple GIANT steps backward.

Denny completes her last leg and jumps in the truck to come pick me up. The truck won’t start. No lights. No camera. No action. She calls me on the radio and I hike back a half-mile to the truck.

Fortunately, it’s only a loose battery cable, so we’re soon on the road for home. One step forward.

But, the Spot tracker device isn’t in the other vehicle, so it’s gone. “Spot” ran away. Probably my fault. I must have misplaced it, or it fell out or was left at one of the early stops today. Dang! Two GIANT steps backward for sure.

We have cold, leftover pizza (see yesterday’s blog entry) as the main course. It’s OK because we’re too tired to fix anything.

I write this blog entry and try to connect for upload, but nothing doing. Not even one bar reception. Another frustration for the day.

Did I mention that we’re camped at a buffalo nature preserve? How cool is that? We saw at least 100 of the big guys (and girls) on the hill this afternoon. Tomorrow morning should be interesting.

Bed is calling. One step forward, perform a half twist and I gently fall backward into the clutches of the mattress monster.

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