Day 39 – IAT Mile 682.0 to 713.9

The Horsemen friends rode into town last night.  They gave up a full night of arcade gaming to arrive to our hotel early, ensuring they would be here in the morning to help me get back on the trail where I left off back in the town of Lodi and help Brianna with whatever she needed in my absence.  Their energy and enthusiasm to help invigorated me for a big day, with over 30 miles hiked, it was my biggest ever.  I emptied my pack of all unnecessary weight, let them take care of Brianna and help plan out what the next few days of supported hiking might look like.

Hiking alone is not nearly as much fun as hiking with Brianna.  Alone time was fun for the first few hours, the Lodi Marsh, Springfield Hill & Indian Lake trail segments were all very well maintained and full of easy trails with rare overlooks of the small towns and prairies.  It’s easy to stay distracted when surrounded by beauty, it was the road miles that broke down my protective mental walls, blistered my brain with needless doubts.

How did I hike 30 miles in just under 12 hours?  My pack was light.  I ran down hills, I ran up hills, I ran to reunite with Brianna & friends.  My new shoes hugged my feet tightly, more hindrance than helpful, but there was nothing to be done save loosen the laces and run on.  I streamed so much music and played on my phone so often that I burned through an entire Anker battery pack.

Brianna & Horsemen made a point to brighten my day with surprise trail magic on the far side of the Indian Lake segment, just before I was to start a 5 mile stretch of road walk.  I drank a cold Mountain Dew and ate candy while we all joked around and chatted, quoted random movies, made fun of each other.  Reuniting with old friends is a rare and amazing thing at any time, especially as we get older and life, this visit is something even more than that.  How fortuitous their visit has ended up being.  Planned for a fun visit with a side of help, received a rescue with a side of “we’d be screwed without them.”

Guess what I did after our 15-20 minutes of trail magic ended?  I ran some more.  My Mountain Dew sugar rush of enthusiasm lasted right up to the last 3 miles of the day.  

I arrived at the Cross Plains trail segment and was immediately greeted with a series of steep hills.  With my energy zapped and only cheese crackers left for fuel, I sat on a bench at the foot of the hill and lamented on the day and my situation as a whole.  People often say “misery loves company” as one of life’s negative truths.  In my hiking world, not having Brianna there to share my pains with, makes it all seem so very pointless.  These hills, both the metaphorical and the very real one in front of me, had to be climbed.  An hour and a half later and thirty minutes tarty of when I told everyone I would finish, I walked past the IATA HQ building and collapsed onto the closest bench I could find.

The night ended as I would have expected, Friday night fish fry at a local diner with a couple Spotted Cow beers for good measure.

My feet hurt and I’ve got new blisters but I’m going to try for another 30 miler tomorrow.  Bob is planning to walk 10 miles with me towards the end, we’ll see how far I can get.  Brianna is feeling better, still a ways to go before jumping back in the trail again.