I had maybe more adventure today than I would have wanted. I started out bathing in the river. A little adventurous for me. After a lot of long days of walking, I am getting a bit foot-sore, so just thinking about another long day of walking seemed like a challenge.
It started raining before 3:00PM and I walked in steady rain, often heavy rain until after 7:00PM. The only things that I have a fairly sure waterproofing system for is my critical electronics. So, I knew that it was more than me that was getting wet. Sometime after 5:00PM, I was out of Poudre Canyon and reached the intersection of highways 14 and 287 to the first real convenience store/gas station in many miles. It was also my first good mobile network reception for five days. I was happy to be able to talk to my wife on the cell phone and have the prospect of Internet connectivity. Wilderness is wonderful, but, well, civilization also has it’s benefits.
I asked the clerk at the convenience store, Ted’s Place, if there was a place like a park with an awning where I could get out of the rain. She said that I could find an awning at Lion’s Park about five miles down the road in LaPorte. Sure enough, I finally got out of the rain under an awning over three picnic tables at the park. I cooked up some dinner for myself using my backpacking stove. Then I considered how I was going to get my stuff dry, but at least it was dry under the awning. I walked 23 miles for the day.
As it was getting dark, I pitched my tent on the concrete under the awning and between the picnic tables. No need for the rainfly. I climbed into my somewhat dry sleeping bag. I called my wife and we said our prayers together over the phone as is our habit when we have mobile network. I said my personal prayers and settled down to go to sleep. Then I started to wonder if the river which was nearby was going to overflow it’s banks. An internet search on my smartphone indicated that the river was a long way from flood stage. Then I thought, “I didn’t really take a good look at the drainage around this concrete pad. I should get out of the tent and look at the drainage with my flashlight.”
As I was climbing out of the tent, a voice said, “I’ve got you covered. Lay down on the ground. I am checking you out.” I was looking down the barrel of a revolver. It was mostly dark, but the guy pointing the revolver at me had a flashlight next to the revolver, pointed at me that also shined some light on the gun. I was thinking, 32 special like you would see in old TV police shows. I was a little startled at first, but I felt quite calm.
The guy with the gun said, “I have a badge.” But, he never did identify himself as an officer. Sparing you the whole conversation, I figure the guy was a homeless person that was maintaining his territory, but was nice enough to say, “I am clearing you to stay here for two nights.” I went back to bed and felt the Lord was in charge and I was going to get a good nights sleep, because it was in His hands. I slept well and in the morning, I found that the guy had left a mostly empty can of Bud Light on the bench of the picnic table.