Day 27 – IAT Mile 007 to 470.3

We had camp broken down and were on the trail by 0550 this morning!  Left no trace!  The initial morning push only lasted about an hour before we both started bellyaching about needing breakfast and coffee, so we stopped at the nearest IAT bench and did the morning routine we usually do before leaving camp.

Injuries on the trail are very different than injuries in normal life.  If I pulled a muscle working out in my normal life, I would probably take a week off and let it heal because injuring myself worse could really throw my routine off.  Injuring myself on the trail, like I did to my calf, like Brianna did to her shin, you just keep limping on and hope that it heals or the surrounding muscles get strong enough to pick up the slack.

Long hiking days like today have a way of bringing old injuries back.  All of today’s segments, Plover River, Thornapple, Ringle, they all had huge blown down trees.  Ringle segment was by far the worst. There were many spots where trees weren’t just blown down, they were twisted like pieces of braided rope.  They say a tornado went through and I believe it.

Overall, even with the trail damage, today’s hike was beautiful.  Going over, around and under trees was more like a Tough Mudder event than a chore.  If the trail is well maintained, going around a tree can be fun.  If you’re going around a tree and dealing with bogs and/or high grass, that’s no fun.  Ringle getting hit so hard is super unfortunate, as this is a new area the IAT had planned to complete work on later this fall.  On the other hand, we have talked to the trail coordinator for this section a lot, Gail, and she has her shit together.  She is already out there with chainsaws and a crew.

We have been on the trail for 27 days and I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole “Ice Age Traill Alliance” thing.  Trail coordinators, the people who manage specific segments, are all volunteers.  I have to believe that the skilled labor, the people with chainsaws and hammers, are getting paid something.  Ruby and Bruce told us that all the trail maintenance equipment is bought by the IAT and the building of shelters is contracted out with very precise specifications.  They laughed about how one 3-sided shelter costs 6-7k once it’s all said and done.

I would really like to research the top of the the IAT organization more.  With all the legal work and paperwork that’s required to string this thing together, someone has to be getting paid big money, right?

Towards the end of our hiking day, we arrived at Dollar General for a planned resupply.  Brianna must have been in the store for an hour trying to find where things were and deciding which foods to get for our future breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  She must have made friends while wandering the store, soon after she came out with our supplies a gentleman gave us each our own ice cream Snickers bar!  After devouring our dessert, Brianna hung back and organized supplies in the parking lot while I sprinted over to Subway to grab us a couple Italian BMT footlongs.

With full stomachs and heavier packs, we road walked the final 4 miles south to a cozy designated camping spot just 30 yards off the highway (Rice Lake).  We are under the pines again 🙂 Tomorrow will be a lot of road walking.  Having more food is cool, heavy packs suck.