I woke up at 9:30 AM on a comfy couch inside of Al’s Place, a hostel for TransAm cyclists, packed my gear and walked across the street to the TransAm Cyclery to fix my bicycle. I asked the man if he could check the rim, and tire to see if I needed a replacement. He could not find anything puncturing my tubes and the rim did not need to be replaced. He hooked me up with a new tube and I bought some more cold gear including thermals, a rain cap, ski mask and a tiny pressure gauge. He gave me a 10% discount since I was doing the TransAm Trail.
I set out around 11 AM and thankfully my bicycle seemed to be holding up perfectly. I stopped at Lake Hanna to eat some breakfast and charge my electronics. I looked out over the lake and dark gray clouds loomed in between the valley of the mountains.
I decided to pack up my gear and head out looking for any shelter along the way. I did not encounter any people today, in fact, I don’t recall speaking to anyone, but myself under my breath, hoping the rain would hold off until I found a nice place to sleep.
I ended up pedaling 55 miles before a drop landed on my t-shirt and luckily I stopped at a burnt down abandoned building off the side of the trail. I walked my bicycle through three foot shrubs that pricked against my skin and left clumps of green leaves on my pant legs. When I turned the corner I found the perfect spot to set up camp and best of all, I did not see one “No Trespassing” sign on the premises. I grabbed some wood boards that had fallen from the roof and laid them under a section of the house where a ten foot by ten foot section of roof stood above me. I pulled out my sleeping bag, and bivy sack and set them up on top of the boards and dressed into the rest of my cold gear in preparation for the cold night. I began to read more of “Kite Runner” inside of my bivy sack until I peacefully fell asleep.
Droplets of rain splat against the board I slept on dropping ever so often by my ears. Thankfully I perched myself right under the one piece of roof from the burnt, abandoned building. I unzipped my bivy sack and removed each sweaty layer of cold gear until I was in just shorts and a t-shirt. I packed up all my gear and hit the road at 7 AM. I needed an early start to avoid the downpour that may occur at any second. I pedaled up and down the steep hills of the Ozark Mountains weaving through the curving, winding roads with the dark clouds looming above me about to explode. After ten miles I stopped for breakfast and glued my eyes to Kite Runner. The rain splashed against the ground ever so gently and nature never released her full fury the rest of the day, thankfully. Once the drizzling halted I continued on down the road until I spotted a Wood Carvings store. I opened the door and my eyes widened in fascination. Each wooden carving looked superb in down to the finest detail and all done by hand. I wanted to buy something, but all of the pieces were far too big for my panniers and I couldn’t take pictures. However, I made great conversation with the owner’s with Betty. She mentioned cyclists usually pop in the store during early summer or spring, but most at this time were finishing up the trail to avoid the cold. We talked about my journey and what brought me to Missouri. She agreed now was the perfect time for an adventure. We veered towards the topic of Alaska and jobs out there. She insisted if I needed work that I should check there after the completion of my journey. Her friend works on an oil rig three weeks on and three weeks off. l would endure tough working conditions pushing my body to exhaustion, but they are always in dire need of workers because due to the strenuous labor people often quit quite frequently. So my plan after this trip is to head to Alaska in search of adventure and a job. I asked her if any attractions nearby would be worth seeing and she suggested I head to Alley Springs where I could also camp for the night. We parted ways and I continued on up the steep hills of the Ozarks.
I pedaled up the hill slowly and steadily until I heard a huge thud and what sounded like a tire spinning full force in the mud. I looked behind me to find a tow truck had blocked the road. Directly perpendicular to the road with a bus on the back of his rig. He tried to drive down a steep hill and cut the wheel, but in doing so one of his rear tires stuck in the mud and I could hear the rustling, clinging and clanging noises of the chains holding the rickety bus from tipping over. I smirked and continued up the hill.
Once I reached the top, the springs loomed down below on the right side of the road. I flew down the hill and stopped at the picnic pavilion to eat some food and read “Kite Runner.” Then I ventured around the Springs and gasped in pure amazement. I looked down into the clear water and saw my reflection bounce back at my eyes. Then I went on a picture frenzy, snapping as many photos as I could. I took my bicycle with me around the trail that looped around “Alley Springs” and I found a spot to sleep at night overlooking the springs. I put my bicycle against a tree and climbed the rocks in front of me bouldering up a five foot section of rock. Around the corner I saw a pitch black hole in the side of the dolomite I climbed. I shined my headlamp in that direction and the perfect shelter lay straight ahead. I climbed back down the cliff and hid my bicycle in a stealthy spot behind some shrubs and trees. I grabbed the necessary supplies I needed to camp and decided to call it a night.
Little did I know within two hours of falling asleep, in the rain-free cave, I would awaken to a snake slithering over my feet. I looked beside me to see a small copperhead snake. I slowly moved outside of the cave as to not make any sudden movements and decided to sleep on the cliff engulfing myself inside of my bivy sack and pulling the tarp around me in fear of rain.