Well, it’s not REALLY the unknown. But for most of my hiking/camping trip over the next several weeks, I won’t have any idea each morning when I wake up where I’ll be camping that night.
The Centennial Trail is difficult in that respect because some of the state parks allow camping only in their campgrounds. And I fully expect those to be full. Most of the spots are reservation-only and, of course, when we started planning this, there were no reservations available. They do have a few first-come, first-served spots at each campground, but I can’t count on being able to actually get one. David will be OK because they’ll make room for through hikers, who only have a tent. But they’re not going to let me park my van when there are no open spots. I’ll have to look elsewhere.
So each morning I’ll need to move and try to find another place to camp somewhere close to the trail where David will be stopping each night. Our hope is that I can set up camp somewhere David can meet me and we can camp together (most nights; some nights he’ll camp on the trail) so he can have a hot dinner, maybe a shower (or at least a good wash), and a hot breakfast the next morning before he sets out again. Whether this will work is another matter. Fortunately, we both have Garmin satellite communicators so I can give him my location each day. Some days I might set up camp and then have to go pick him up at the trail head, then drop him off again the next morning. I have absolutely no idea. And that’s part of the fun.
I’ll be using all the apps I have, plus my paper maps. There are a lot of great apps that help you find dispersed camping, and I’ll be relying on those. Also, as long as I’m in the national forest (which will be most of the time), I can park anywhere unless there are signs saying specifically not to. So I can drive down forest roads and look for spots to pull off onto. I need room only for my van and David’s tent. The only real question is how far I’ll be from the trail, especially around areas like Mt. Rushmore. But I guess I’ll find out.
I leave tomorrow morning, so I’m getting ready to finish packing the van. I’m gassed up and have washed the van, which will be filthy right away, but at least I’m starting out with it clean.
I’ll try to post blog updates as I can, but I don’t really have any idea how often I’ll have Internet access. I’m going to try to write and prepare the blogs often so I can upload them whenever I have a chance. At the worse, I’ll upload them all when I get home.
See you in three weeks or so!