Soon after I went to bed, the wind picked up and started to blow sand around. At midnight, I set up my rainfly to help keep the wind and sand out and also to block some of the bright moonlight. I did not sleep all that well, and at 4:30 decided instead of trying to sleep, I would pack up and start hiking. As was leaving, I saw a bunch of tents of those who had hiked in late that night.
It was a five miles to a faucet where I stopped to replenish water. Here, I ran into Noah, who had hiked until 1 am and set up camp near the water source and also the same German fellows who were there when I was picked up from the trail by Jeff.
The next six miles were brutally windy and uphill through an area with a lot of wind turbines. It was a struggle, and the terrain made my calves burn. When nearing the last reliable water source for the next 20 miles, I saw under the shade of a big tree about 15 hikers. After filling up from the stream, I walked over to the group and took a 20 minute break with them. They had quite the adventure hiking the aqueduct, and from what they were saying, it did not sound like their group was all that sober the night they did it. It would have been an unusual sight to be sure.
Around 2 pm, I came across a campsite that a trail angel had set up with a water cache along with tables and chairs. It was a cool place with a great view, and after a brief break, it was mostly downhill for the rest of the day offering some relief.
Just before the road that I planned to hitch into town, there was a trail registry and a list of trail angels and phone numbers you could contact for a ride. I decided to try my luck hitching first to see if I could find someone going in the right direction already. Within a minute of having my thumb out, I was offered a ride and they dropped me off at a BBQ joint in town where hikers could stay behind the restaurant. I ordered brisket and sausage with fried pickles and a salad. It was a delicious meal.
While I was eating, I shared a table with a Frenchman and a lady who were also from Austin. After they left, I was finishing up my food, and some people at the other tables started asking me questions about the trail; where it went, how long it was, and how long I have been at it. Many are surprised when I tell them about my start date. Most people don't hike as fast as I do.
There were about five others camping behind the restaurant. All of us except for one guy was cowboy camping. As I was about to hit the sack, they all went to a party and invited me along. I politely declined. I have not had a full night sleep in a while and am looking forward to it.