Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weekend warrior

It's only Wednesday and I'm finally coming back to earth after a stellar weekend.

August 5th marked the one year anniversary of when I started to hike the Appalachian Trail so I had to celebrate. I took off work, loaded up my gear, bought some 49 cent packs of Ramen noodles and headed for St. John.

I've lived in paradise for almost six months now and it was my first Virgin Islands hiking/camping excursion. It definitely won't be my last.

I settled on Cinnamon Bay, where I thought all the cool kids hung out. But when I got there, I couldn't even get anyone to answer my bell rings at the front desk. I kept ringing the bell and sat patiently. Instead of grabbing a random camp site, the lady at the general store helped me out and assigned me a spot right next to the beach.

I thought she gave me such a sweet spot because I called her "ma'am" and was polite. It all went to waste as I later found out I was one of the only campers at Cinnamon Bay that night and it was Friday.

Why the sudden absence of campers? What gives?

I later found out. But not after taking in a great sunset...

My campsite was about 15 yards from the beach and after the sun set, I decided to get started on dinner. When I hiked the AT, I was known for cooking Ramen noddles on a nightly basis with tuna and SPAM added for good measure.

Since it was an anniversary night, I went with the same. But of course I added some peanut M&M's for dessert and threw in a bag of chex mix for an appetizer.

Here's when it got hairy: the sun went down but the heat remained. It got so hot, I stripped down to my boxers while laying in my tent. I had hiked about 8 miles during the day and normally, that would knock me out. Not that night. It was just too freaking hot.

I literally picked up my tent, which was already set up with all my belongings inside, and hauled it toward the beach with the bright idea that perhaps the shore breeze would chill my sweaty bones. It helped but provided barely any relief.

When I finally did lose conscience around midnight, a flashlight glare hit me in the face and a camp ranger asked me what I was doing camping on the beach, which was not allowed.

I acted like he startled the shit out of me.

Me: "Wha! What's that?! Who's there??!! Oh my God..."

Park ranger: "Hey, take it easy. What are you doing? You're not allowed to camp on the beach."

Time to kiss some ass.

Me: "Oh please, sir. I was sweating pretty bad at my site and I brought my tent out here hoping for a breeze. I promise I'll be out of here before first light."

Park ranger: "Did you register for a camp site?"

Me: "I sure did. 8C. That's me."

The park ranger checked his clipboard and it's not like he had a lot of campers to confirm. He said he could have been a jerk but he was going to let me be. He asked me to be out of there by 6 a.m. and I promised not to leave a trace.

When I woke up the next day, I couldn't think about anything besides swimming. I had been sweating my ass off -- August is just too hot to camp in the tropics -- and couldn't wait to soak up the cool water.

I emerged from my tent around 5:30 a.m. before the sun had even shown itself and it was the perfect time for a morning swim.

I eventually gathered my stuff and started to head to the main road. For some idiotic reason, I forgot to pack a spare change of clothes so I had to put my sweat rags back on (Another AT habit).

A safari taxi driver took me back into town for $7 -- it cost two dollars less to come out of town -- and I ate breakfast at JJ's Texas Coast Cafe just before the 8 a.m. ferry left for St. Thomas.

Aside from the heat and sweat, it had been a successful trip and I was pretty proud of myself.

But there was no time to pat myself on the back because I had a pig roast to attend that afternoon. And it wasn't just any pig roast, it was the 2nd annual Brugos Brothers' Pig Roast on the North Side of St. Thomas. Brianna made cupcakes and I brought my sobriety.

I'll save that story for next time but here's a picture to wet your appetite...

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your updates! Sounds like an amazing time.