Day 44 – IAT Mile 836 to 864.8

Hiking with a support team is so very different than hiking all alone in a strange land.  A support team removes obstacles, and in doing so, changes the landscape of things you’re likely to encounter while hiking.  Imagine pushing a family on a sled down a snowy hill that’s thick with trees, that’s what thru-hiking is.  The trees make it dangerous and thrilling at the same time.  Support removes some of those trees, allowing you to pick up more speed and find a different type of thrill.

Please don’t push people down snowy hills thick with trees.  That’s called murder.

It is unlikely we will meet many more people offering us hearth and home when we neither need nor want either of those things.  That’s only half true, we may not need them, but always are we wanting more.

This morning was different in that part of my temporary support team, Curt, would be joining me for the afternoon miles.  My resolve was to tap out as many miles as possible before lunch and the magic number ended up being 18!  18 morning miles is impressive, even to me, but things came together nicely and it was easier than it sounds.  

The morning was cold and thick with protective fog to shield me from the sun through early road walking miles.  The day’s road miles were unpleasant on the feet and body, as per usual, but did reward me with a beautiful park at the end of it.  The Lions club shelter featured an artisan well that’s been flowing since 1895.  I dumped my water to the side and enjoyed fresh cold water from the depths of Wisconsin.  Artisan wells bring back childhood memories of playing in the woods and getting into trouble with friends, activities I am still passionate about to this day.

Whitewater Lake & Blackhawk trail segments run through Kettle Moraine Park and were full of many rocky climbs.  Taking my time on the unsteady terrain was not an option though, the afternoon would be the same kind of difficult, only more hot, more humid, with a friend.

My personal trail angels set lunch camp up off the side of the road and next to trees just big enough to cast some shade.  The ladies greeted me with a sandwich for my stomach and an ice cold Gatorade for my lips.  This is what makes 28 mile days possible.  Well, this and a flux capacitor, but we can talk about time travel in more depth later.

Curt has been my hiking partner for over a decade now.  We hiked Pike’s Peak together and have logged hundreds of Smokey Mountain trail miles together over the years.  There was no doubt in my mind that he would be ok on this trail with me, I mostly wanted to make sure he didn’t get burned out after too many miles on the first day.  

Curt & I’s 10 afternoon miles went by quickly.  My fear of later day heat was clouded over.  My concerns of Curt being able to keep up became laughable, his pace was fast and out in front of me the entire time.  We even got lucky enough to chance upon an empty campground with running water, allowing us to splash ourselves in the face with cold water and refill our bottles before continuing on.

The night ended with a comradery, beer and 3 servings of a Penny’s homemade spaghetti!