The old road was familiar to me but new to Jim. We chatted about old times, it hardly seemed like it had been 25 years.It wasn't long before the flooded section came into view. We paused to remove our boots, hike up our pants and don our water shoes. The long slog began. Not very deep but the boardwalk remnants did not make it easier. There was a small section of creek which flowed through showing a very deep section which we could step over. At the main creek the bridge is still operational for now. When this goes, the crossing will be much worse.
Past the flooded section we pressed on to Carry lean2 where we stopped for a later lunch. It was hot out and we were both sweating a lot. The bnugs were horrid in tha parking area, not so bad while while hiking but at breaks like this they would return. Checked out the shelter log and noted Justin's entry from last winter. It was early afternoon and we still needed to get to my section of trail and then to camp. We crossed the new bridge over "Halfway Bridge". I can never remember ther real name of this creek. I call it "Halfway Creek" because this point is almost exactly the halfway point for an NPT thru hike. Anyway, Jim commented on the nice bridge built by the SCA a few years back. A half mile later we reached the Sucker Brook trail junction. Continuing on the NPT we would cut blowdown and remove it from the trail. I was getting tired early on. I assumed it was me being out of shape. This "work at home stuff" has had a negative effect on my weight and exercise. It was good for me to struggle as it re-emphasized my need to do more. Did not have to clear any drainages as they were all dry. Some of the usual springs had no water. I did fill up at the two largest. Water was nice and cold. About 2/3 of the way I was done cutting. I was whupped. I figured to save the rest for the return trip tomorrow. On a positive note we did not get rained on. We did hear a thunderclap not far away but nothing on us.
We reached the Cedar Lakes Dam, I signed us in and noted folks heading to Cedar#2. The campsites along the lake were empty except for a lost child's poncho hagning in a tree. I would grab this on the way out. At Cedars#1, Stephan and Brandan were relaxing int he lean-to. They were on day 2 of the French Louie Loop. It was their first time backpacking and seemed like they were enjoying it. We set up our tents/hammock in the nearby area and talked to S&B for the evening. I shared some of my cream ale with Stefan. I was not hungery at all, but knew I needed to eat something. I forced down some m&ms. The entire time I was thinking just how out of shape I was. At 7:30 Jim reminded me of the annular solar eclipse which was visible on the other side of the planet. Was neat it was happening on the summer solstice too. If these were ancient times I am sure the peoples would have all kinds of celebrations going on. The longest day of the year was coming to a close and I needed to sleep. Not long after sunset I headed to the hammock. It was still hot. I was not very comfortable but it got better once the temperature dropped a little.
I tried to sleep in, I really did. But could not force myself to fall back asleep so I was up before 6. I heard Jim packing up his gear so I did as well. Went down to the water to see the sun had just risen and was burning off the morning fog over the lake. My camera was up in my pack so I did not take a picture. I headed back up to the lean-to. Stefan and Brendan were up. I made a quick fire for some coffee. Still could not eat. After more conversation we heading back to where we came. It was cooler and the dew on the leaves/grass dampened the pants a little. At the dam I checked us out and we said farewell to Stefan and Brendan; wished them well on the "funhouse bridge". They replied "huh" curiously. I said they would know when they got there. Hope to see them on the trail again someday. Jim and I cleared the blowdown we left on the way in. Stopped at my "breakfast place" on the Cedar River for break. Jim took a couple photos. Had more energy today, even though I hadn't eaten much. Jim's homemade powerbar was quite good and lasted me the entire hike back to the car.
Stopped again at the Carry Lean-to. Jim took some photos of the flow. Deer flies were out and about, and a large number of ants were all over the deacon seat. As we were hiking out we noticed some of the ground seemed wet; more than just typical dew. Even a few muddy spots which were not there the previous day. We surmised that some of the thunder we had heard was a very localized storm including rain. Well, the ground was wet in places and when we stopped before the flooded section to remove out boots the lost poncho I picked up was used to sit on while I changed footwear. After wading through the muck the rest of the hike out was uneventful. I was not as tired as yesterday. I wondered how much the heat had gotten to me, and whether I was dehydrated. Our cars were where we left them. We said our farewell's and promised to not let another 25 years go by before we would see each other again. Hopefully this little adventure will be the catalyst for more to come.