Day 42 – IAT Mile 809.3 to 836

With the 20 mile Albany & Monticello segments temporarily jumped yesterday, today is the day I actually hit 800 miles hiked.  It sounds like I will be making up the missed miles tomorrow for a shorter day, which will leave a poultry 300 miles of total trail left.  This whole thing could be finished in 12 more days if I’m able to push hard enough.

Starting my day out with an Uber was weird.  My brain has trained itself to walk through towns and expect to never see them again and these past few days have been so much the opposite; options limited such as they are.  I had to get an Uber to the middle of nowhere from Janesville because of how Uber geofencing for rides works.  Simply put – the Uber app has no problem finding me a driver from a big city to a small city but once you are in the small city, you lose access to all of the drivers in the big city, even if that is your destination and mileage is the same.

It took a few tries but I was eventually able to land a pretty cool driver, Brad.  Brad runs his own transportation business and hands cards out to people he picks up on Uber.  Pretty genius, right?  His business is really designed to help solve the problem I described above, which may come in handy for me if I am to make up our skipped miles.  He also recommended an Uber hack that I think is pretty sly:

If you are ever in a town that shows no drivers available, just lie about your location until a driver is found.  Once a driver is found, you can call or message the driver directly and explain the situation, offer cash for assistance.  It’s a shot in the dark, but the first step in asking for help us finding a person to ask.  Trail truth < – > Life truth.

I have been trying to decide if pushing for big mile days and taking time to enjoy the hike are conflicting approaches.  I pushed really hard today and still found time to break next to streams and relax.  There was actually about a 1 mile stretch today where a doe was within arms reach of me.  We chatted and walked together for until she jumped off into the woods and I sat down next to a stream.  She was back and hanging out on the opposite side of the water within 5 minutes, this time with a fawn that was taking turns between feeding on mom’s milk and eating plants.

Walking slow sounds nice and probably is the best way to go for most people.  My body is 42 days into the trail with muscles built for hiking.  Speed, for me, is more relative to terrain and pack weight, weather and distance.

At this point, you may be thinking, “hiking fast is probably how you got yourself into this solo hiking predicament in the first place.”  If so, I can see where you’re coming from, though I do not think that’s true.  The climb where Brianna’s back injury began, up Devil’s Lake State Park, was about 2-3 miles into our day and our packs were light as they had ever been, each with only a day worth of food.  The night before her injury was spent at Willowwood Inn on a soft bed where each of us had a good night’s rest.  No, I think this injury is a reminder that shit happens, particularly to those of us with pre-existing injuries.  We will do more to reduce the likelihood of injury, like daily stretching, pack weight distribution, massages on trail and all that, but our risk factor will always be high.

Today’s hike through the town of Milton and back into Janesville was enjoyable.  This area is rich with parks and paved walkways for the city people to get out and enjoy.  Aside from the road walk at the beginning, I was in the woods but still walking on cement for most of the day.  Cement is easier than walking through knee high grass and bogs, to be sure, it is also harder on the knees and feet.  My speed on cement is always slower these days.  The best thing you can do is take the same approach long distance runners do – take shorter strides to reduce impact up the feet and into the knees.  It’s a common misconception that larger strides are better because it takes fewer to get you where you are going.

Penny and Athena are arriving tomorrow with Brianna’s car and will be hanging out for a week!  With Brianna in good hands, we’ll see what these hiker muscles can really do.