Hiker Trash. A saying in the hiker community that I did not fully understand until this trip. Brianna & I have been seriously hiking since around 2010 when we lived in Colorado Springs, thank you Uncle Tim & Mama Penny! We lived on the West side of Colorado Springs with easy access to the Garden of the Gods and all the surrounding trails. Our first major hikes were up the scar and a two day trip up to the top of Pike’s Peak. We have learned so much since those days, to include what it means to be hiker trash.
Today is an appropriate day to write about hiker trash. We haven’t had a shower in four days, our clothes are all dirty and we are not going to get a shower or clean clothes for at least three more days. That, however, is not what it means to be hiker trash. Hiker trash is being that dirty and then taking it to the next level. Hiker trash is arriving to a public park where families are hanging out and taking your stinky shoes and socks off to air even stinkier feet. Hiker trash is laying your dirty underwear in the sun to dry after a severe storm. Hiker trash is taking a campground shower with your clothes on and then hanging them out to dry like you just did laundry, filling a hotel bathtub with hot water and dirty clothes. Simply put, hiker trash is choosing to be comfortable with looking like trash and doing trashy things because being uncomfortable isn’t the preferred option.
I guess I wanted to get that out so readers know what I mean when I say ‘hiker trash’. Before this trip, I thought it was just a thing hikers said to sound cool. Now, I know that it is a real thing, I finally get it.
Laying on a bench in the back of 3-sided hiking shelter was some of the best sleep I’ve had on the trail in a while. Midnight elk calls woke us up a couple times, which was more cool than it was intrusive. A good night sleep rose both Brianna & I’s spirits, having tables to cook coffee and breakfast on with a beautiful view of Dog Lake didn’t hurt either.
We started the day with about a half bottle each of Tug Lake Park toilet water. Ruby had left us water just 5 miles down the trail, so we ran for that. I wish there was a picture of us as we reached the water and started guzzling it right out of the old fruit juice bottles she had filled for us. Water was running down my beard like a dwarf drinking mead on their birthday.
As we sat there, water drunk and filling our bottles, two muscle bound section hikers passed us on their way out for a few day trip. I didn’t catch their names, but we did give them our blog info (if you are reading this, please comment and let us know how you did during the MASSIVE storms last night).
Clearly water drunk but back on the trail, we made a our first rookie mistake of the trip. The trail crossed over a logging road and we followed the logging road further than we were supposed to. Instead of backtracking, we bushwhacked our way back to the trail. Silly move, let’s not do that again.
Today was hot, 86 degrees with drowning humidity. What better day to climb Lookout Mountain and the Harrison Hills segment? Very literally the steepest and most elevation we have done in a single day on the IAT. Lookout Mountain is only 20ft lower than the highest point in Wisconsin. Our plan for the day was originally 19 miles, we only made it 15, but for a very good reason.
On one of our many breaks while ascending Lookout Mountain (we hiked 15 miles in 12 hours), Mel texted me a weather warning. He said that an ugly looking storm was forming in Minnesota and it would likely be hitting us at some point tonight. What are a couple hikers to do? The answer, of course, is get lucky. Just 2 miles down from Lookout Mountain lived a fully enclosed ATV shelter. A “No Overnight Camping” sign loomed in front, so we called the local Sheriff Dept and told them our plan to crash there for the night out of the storms. The officer said that he couldn’t give us permission to do that but they would not enforce the restriction tonight as long as we cleaned up. Deal!
I had texted Ruby and Bruce to ask if there would be water at the ATV shelter. They replied back, “No, but we will bring you some.” Which they did, plus Sprites, Pepsi and beer :-). Thank you, Ruby & Bruce!!
Our home for the night is our tyvek ground sheet on a concrete floor with all of our normal ground pads. Safe.