Day 43 – IAT Mile 743.7 to 769.4

If I had bothered to research this area we temporarily skipped, if I had known what it would be, I might have tried for my first ever 50 mile day instead of leaving a few days ago and coming back today.  The thought that I may have tried that feat of insanity makes me feel a little thankful that I did not know then what I know now.

The first 15 miles of today’s trail have been all packed down dirt 2-track roads.  Packed dirt that’s mostly free of gravel is bee’s knees of walking high g’s speeds.  Green tree tunnels provided periodic shade through the morning and into the heat of the day.  If all that wasn’t enough, this trail passes directly by a Mobile Station where I was able to get a cold Mountain Dew.  I even passed through an old train depot with pit toilets and a drinking fountain where I was able to take a restfully long break.

Not long after my break at the train depot, I was walking by a picnic table near a mowed path and spotted a pickup truck driving my way.  A blonde girl seated in the front waved at me. “That’s nice.” I thought to myself waving back politely, not slowing my fast pace.  It might have taken 30 seconds to register, but it did soon register that the cute girl was Brianna!  Penny had picked Brianna up from the hotel and they had been driving up and down the path in search of me.  If they had been any later to this present spot, I’d have been long gone.

Brianna, Penny and Athena all had smiles on as they popped out of the truck.  Well, I’m not sure if Athena was smiling, per say, but I did get face kisses.  Penny whipped up some chicken salad sandwiches for lunch while we all sat at the picnic table and chatted for a while.  

Having Penny, Athena and Curt back in Wisconsin is a welcome sight and a reminder of how much trail people have invested in my last 300 miles.  It’s not pressure that I feel, it’s more like being down $100 at the blackjack table and pulling the last $100 out of my pocket.  The dealer is showing a 10 and I’ve been dealt a 16.  I know what I’m supposed to do, do I have it in me to do it?

With only 6 miles left in my hiking day, I threw my pack into the back of Penny’s truck and continued walking with only my sunbrella and a liter of water.  5 of my last 6 miles were road walking due to a trail closure.  The trail closure kind of bummed me out.  The Stewart tunnel through the Monticello segment seemed like a rare trail feature that’s been closed for flooding or some other safety reason since 2019.  I am not, and likely never will be, a fan of road miles, but I knocked them out in a little under 2 hours.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be an interesting hiking day.  Terrain is going to be rough through the kettle moraine and it’s looking like a high 86+ degree day.  It sounds like Curt will be lacing up his trail runners and joining me for a bit as well – may the odds be ever in our favor.