I've had a great time saying things like "Telephone, Texas" and "Turkey, Texas," but right now, I love saying that I'm on the top of Texas. I can't get enough of it.
I hiked into Follett with the express purpose of grabbing a bite to eat and continuing to the very corner of the state. Not a single person at the IMO's convenience store had ever seen the corner, and only one of them had heard of someone actually seeing it. A high schooler who had lent me his computer was telling me that he was only familiar with a different survey marker, one that had a dead armadillo holding a beer can near it. The leads were drying up. I imagined that no one had seen the actual marker in a hundred years. In my head, I could hear the theme song of Indiana Jones.
The men in the cafe had iPhones, not exactly a signature feature of an Indiana flick, and before I headed off, they had pulled up Google maps and zoomed up close on the corner. (Just an aside: It's a little embarrassing that these older fellas know more about modern technology than I do.) They gave their best guesses, and I went for it.
Well, downtown Follett to the corner is approximately 10 miles. I know this now. I had thought it was going to be less, but as the sun started setting, I knew I was nowhere near my destination.
The path was a hard packed dirt road, very hilly, and before long, I had to pull out my headlamp to see where I was stepping. The stars came out boldly, filling the sky, and the sounds of the city were muted and a long way off.
So it was somewhat of a surprise to see a couple of cars slowly coming down the road where I had come from. It was even more of a surprise to see the drivers shining a spotlight on either side of the road.
They came, then turned around, then turned around again. It was easy to see what they were doing because of the hills.
Spotlights generally mean cops or rednecks, and I didn't want to take my chances with either. I called 9-1-1 and spoke with the dispatcher, identifying myself and my location. She put me on hold for a second. I could hear the dispatcher speaking directly with the policemen, a subdued laugh underlying her speech. I think she thought it was funny that I had called myself in because they couldn't find me.
The policemen eventually came my way, and we exchanged a few polite words. A farmer had called me in because it was unusual to see someone hiking so late. Fair enough. I hate walking this late myself and do my best to avoid it. The cops told me it was just a bit further and let me on my way.
They were right. The first survey marker (no dead armadillo in sight) was there, so I continued to the east. It was late, so I broke camp without further adventuring.
In the morning, I broke a cardinal rule of this trek: I crossed into private property. I don't know why seeing this corner marker was that important, but it was for some reason. I went due east first following my compass. Nothing. Then I went south. Again, nothing.
I stopped and looked around. Something in the landscape didn't look quite right. I got closer and found ...
... a bucket filled with cement. Well, it wasn't exactly a bucket. More like a metal cylinder. But when I say "bucket," I think the idea comes across a little more clearly.
Placed in the center of the cement was a metal placard. "Triangulation Station" read the top line. Surveyors have to get their kicks, too, I suppose. There were a couple of Oklahoma signs warning not to tamper with anything, and that was it. No boulder rolled down on me, and there were no poison-tipped arrows or golden statue.
But it was the top of Texas. The TOP RIGHT of the Texas Panhandle, to be precise. I started singing to myself, not the Indiana Jones theme but my own tune:
"I'm waiting for the sun on top of Texas,
a windmill beating time against the wind.
I'm waiting for the sun on top of Texas,
lets me know just when this day begins."
I hiked back to Follett, where a local woman picked up my cafe tab! A fellow cafe patron told me that an old rail path had been discontinued and all the rails were ripped out for a long way. I easily found the path and started hiking it, the perfect trail where there are no trails. I camped on it six miles out from Follett.
The next day, I pulled into Darrouzett and had a fifty-cent hot cocoa at the Corner Drug Cafe. Fifty cents! I almost had another. I continued to Booker where I chatted with the Booker News owner Kayla Parvin and her editor Shelby. After visiting with them, I grabbed a specialty coffee drink down the street at Common Ground Coffeehouse. My drink was eight times as much as the cocoa, but it was so worth it. Delicious! I hiked off again and camped a mile outside of Booker on the train path.
This train path is amazing. Truly. It's overgrown, which is not ideal, but it's off the road by a substantial margin, and there's actually wildlife along side of it. I keep accidentally startling really fat pheasants from their cubbies, as well as jack rabbits and a couple of cottontails. Beautiful creatures. To see a red and green pheasant squawking and flapping in flight or a rabbit cover a quarter of a mile in seconds is a great treat.
I walked into Perryton today and had some wonderful Mexican food at Country Gorditas. It gets my gold seal of approval. The owner makes homemade gorditas and tortillas. Love it.
So far the top of Texas has been a quiet adventure with some great people and good finds. Don't bother cueing the themesong. The Indiana Jones in me is doing just fine.
Until next time...