Day 60: Llaphare to Carmarthen

First long hiking day in a while.  The weather started out shaky with several short showers in the morning, but eventually the skies cleared up.  What didn’t get better however was the temperature.  I am pretty sure winter started the first day of September and from here on out it will be cold.  Not extremely cold, but it has been in the low 50s and non stop wind for the last 3 days.  When you spend all day and night outside, that starts to get cold.

Most of the hike was inland, away from the coast, due to an estuary that protrudes inland about 5 miles up to St. Clears’s. Because of this we were walking through the middle of cow pastures rather than just the edges.  In one particular pasture we were greeted by a large group of curious cows that surrounded us and stood in our path staring blankly back at us.  Eventually we walked through the pack and sent them running in all directions.

The cows let us walk away for a bit before falling in line, single file on the trail behind us.  I found this curious, but wasn’t concerned about it.  I was about 50 yards ahead of Casey and Seth we  I hear Seth yell “Collin! RUN!”.  Words do not do justice for what happened next.  I turned to see an entire herd of cows splitting around Seth and Casey and charging right for me.  I turned and ran.  Backpack bouncing up and down on my back while I kept looking over my shoulder to the sight of cows quickly closing in on me.

Fortunately, I only had about 20 yards to run before hopping over a gate and turning around to see about 15 of the beasts stop dead in their tracks a few feet from the gate staring me straight in the eye.  I have no idea what I did to make them angry, but it certainly amused Seth and Casey.  They could hardly walk for the next 5 minutes as they were bent over laughing while recounting the events from their own perspective.

Safe from the stampede, we hiked another 10 miles to Carmarthen and found a room for the night.

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Day 57: Pembroke to just short of Tenby

As a group we decided that we didn’t want to mantain the grueling pace we had been going at the past few days.  Our goal is to finish by sept. 16th so we can fly to Munich for Oktoberfest.  In order to make this goal we would have to do 18 miles a day until then.  Instead, we decided to cut the corner a little bit and hike straight across a peninsula to the southern coast of Pembrookeshire.  This will lighten up the pace a little bit and let us get back to enjoying the hike.

So we took off from the hotel we stayed at the night before at the crack of noon and hiked 5 miles south, shaving off about 40 miles of trail. We found a campsite in a field about .5 miles from the sea and made ourselves a nice campfire.

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Day 55: RAF Dale to just past Milton Haven

Another big day of about 20 miles was going well when high tide brought it to an abrupt stop.  At about 5:30 we had about 5 miles to go when we walked down a concrete road to be greeted by what was now a flooded boat ramp.  We could see the trail pick up on the other side of the water about 10 yards away, but had no way to get there.

The 5 mile “high tide alternate route” really wasn’t an option.  Seth came around the corner and asked what our plan was.  I shouted up to him “we’ll stand here waving our arms until a boat takes us across.  If that doesn’t happen we’ll camp in the field that we passed a half mile back.”  A few people sitting in their backyard heard my plan and laughed about it, but then decided it didn’t sound completely implausible, so they proceeded to help by waving their arms as well.

No more than 5 minutes later, a guy with a boat drove up and offered us a ride across.  We took off our shoes, waded out into the water and hopped in. After spending over a month staring out into the ocean looking at boats, we were finally riding in one.  He took us across the channel and we hopped out, thankful to be back on our way and not on a 5 mile detour.

After that, we hiked into town for food and set up camp on a nice grass field along the highway leading out of town.

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Day 54: Just past Nolton Haven to RAF Dale

I set my Alarm to go off early today.  With a goal of finishing the trail by Sept. 16th to get to Oktoberfest, we will need to average 18 miles a day from here on out.  At 6:45 I awoke to a rediculous conglomerate of waves, wind, and chirping birds… apparently my alarm was designed to emit soothing sounds to wake one up gracefully… whatever. 

As I struggled to wake up, the inevitable began.  It started raining … This makes at least 10 days in a row.  I rolled over and woke up 45 minutes later to a blue sky.  So I woke up the other guys and we got moving right away.  The hike was along gradual rolling hills next to some cliffs and rocky beaches.  At one point, I looked down a steep cliff to see a seal floating on the surface near the shore.  I watched him for a few minutes until he vanished under the water.

We hiked into the early evening, exceeding our goal of 18 miles by a mile or 2, until setting up camp next to some overgrown strips of concrete.  I checked the book and discovered that we had set up camp on a WWII airfield.  Pretty cool to think of the history that took place in what is now a cow pasture and for the night, my campsite.

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