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We hiked about 11 trail miles today, probably more like 13 total. The parking area that the AllTrails app started us at was not the optimal location. It did take us to the Hodenpyl Dam parking lot, which was cool to see, but the NCT does not actually go through Hodenpyl Dam parking lot. We hiked a half mile here, over a suspension bridge there, wandered the Manistee trail for a spell, and then finally made it to the NCT.
Brianna likes to joke about how we are directionally challenged. The truth is, I’m pretty good with a compass and a map, just not so good in a car. Back in my Air Force Firefighter days, we used to attend ‘Silver Flag’ training exercises, a full week of building a base from scratch, chemical attack drills, and… search and rescue games. Long story short, they would leave us in the woods with only a compass and coordinates. I’m not going to say I was the best, but I do have the experience. Today is my 20 year enlistment date anniversary, had to throw some tie in there.
Back to the hiking… the first 11 miles of the trail were very up and down. We are hoping at all the early inclines will help strengthen the legs and allow us to push longer days later in the week. As of right now, Walkup Lake is 77 miles from where we stopped tonight. That means we need to average about 13 trail miles a day if we are to meet everyone on our Friday anniversary deadline. Funny thing is, we have already decided that tomorrow will not be 13 trail miles. It’s a weird spot on the trail, there are better camp grounds and water options if we just do another 11 and make up the time somewhere else.
Everything on the trail revolves around food and water. Food, because Shauna and Brianna like to eat, and water because you never know when the next good source will be. Today, for example, we ended up at a cherry campground, not because it’s cherry, but because the water we needed to get at was on the other side of a towering ledge. We had the option to climb down and muscle our water back up or hike an extra mile down to the water’s edge. Winner winner chicken dinner.
I’d like to call today a success but we haven’t done the sleeping part yet. Who knows what monsters lurk in the night… so I’ll stop here for day 1.
This hiking trip is going to be fun! Well… fun might not be the best way to describe it. My vocabulary has suffered significantly as of late, monosyllabic words are all I’ve got left. The truth is that our trip will be fun, but it’s also complicated.
On the surface, a 10 day hiking trip with two amazing people, celebrating your 10 year wedding anniversary, is nothing short of epic. If you know us, our dreams and aspirations, you don’t have to dig down too many layers to see that this isn’t just a “fun” trip, this is a test. Everything we have done over the past three years has been preparing for the ultimate goal of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Appalachian Trail, and all the trails we haven’t even considered yet. Selling the house, buying the gear, working the horse, it’s all been for a reason.
Underneath the tectonic plates of fun is an enormous amount of pressure. A pressure to do well and enjoy the time. It might sound silly but this kind of pressure can influence decisions and put you into difficult situations that would not otherwise be possible. Quitting the trail for any reason could be foreboding, foreshadowing… even when it’s nothing.
So it’s fun and it’s a test and it’s sorta scary. Luckily, I like tests. Everything is going to be fine.
Day 0 has us up near Cadillac in an AirBnB that Shauna booked. Rick is going to drop the three of us off at the Hodenpyl Trail head in the morning!
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m planning to try and write every day of the hiking trip. It should be… fun 🙂