Day 26 – IAT Mile 431.8 to 007

Global reach, global power.  GRGP was a term I heard often in the four short years I spent as active duty enlisted in the Air Force.  To sum it up, GRGP is the military’s ability to touch anywhere in the world,  at any time, within x amount of time.  We drilled it, we executed it.  Touch having many different meanings, though I can’t remember a single time we drilled to meet a humanitarian related objective.

As hikers, Brianna & I have nearly zero reach, zero power.  Our ability to touch specific locations is dependent on things like physical health and caloric intake, hours in a day and average rate of travel.  However, we are not powerless.  Our power rests in the small footprints we require and leave, to be so small as to go undetected or ignored, it makes no matter which.  If it can’t be seen, it can’t be targeted.  We are secret agents of obscurity?

Sleep comes early these days and last night was no exception.  Prior to passing out, Brianna and I stuffed our faces with food and attempted to riddle out what the next few days of trail might look like.  The next camping area is 20 miles away, Dells of Eau Claire, a doable hike but the campground is full for the weekend.  The next closest camping spot is 10 miles after Dells of Eau Claire, a 30 mile hike… that is pushing it.

We reached out to all of our usual resources, the local coordinator, the Facebook group, various maps apps; we found nothing.  The local coordinator mentioned that the camping spot after Dells of Eau Claire was where a tornado had hit during the latest storm.  She warned of copious blow downs and a chance that the designated camping spot may not exist when we get there.  A 30 mile day through tiring blow downs with a chance of being screwed upon arrival.  Ok, sweet.

Trail coordinators are very helpful and often very funny.  On more than one occasion we have had them ask us how far away our car is.  I’m guessing most of them don’t deal with thru-hikers very often and aren’t sure what it means to thru-hike.  Brianna and I always laugh and sheepishly reply, “Our car is in Michigan.”

This morning’s hike started windy, hazy and cold, with an air quality alert due to smoke from Canadian fires blowing down our way.  After much debate, the only real plan we could come up with for the day was to hike the 9.5 road miles into the next trail and see what happens, do what we have to do.  The road miles were actually pretty fun, we passed a huge dairy farm and lumber operation.  Dairy cows were chomping down some breakfast but did raise their heads to acknowledge us as we passed.  The lumber operation looked like a prison from afar and was very busy for a  Saturday from up close.  Earlier this week Ken had told us that lumber is one of the main industries in Antigo, trees seem to get smaller and smaller every year.

Once back on the trail, we came upon a boardwalk observation deck; a perfect place for lunch.  Lunch time came and went quickly with still no plan for where to camp or what the next best move might be.  Here is what we did know: we were both tired and a 30 mile day, even if halfway there by lunch, was not going to happen.

Without going into too much detail, we did find a place to camp and were passed out by 6:30pm.