Day 47 – IAT Mile 915.4 to 954.0

The day started with such promise… and then I started hiking.  My early morning goodbye to Penny, Curt and Athena was not the reason for tears in my eyes after they dropped me to the trail this morning, no, it was the mosquitoes.  Bugs that had not bothered us in weeks came at me today with a vengeance.  Today of all days, the day I was to try a 24 hour non-stop hiking challenge.

Today’s mosquitoes were smaller and better organized than the normal kind.  They grouped into squadrons and attacked me everywhere, bare skin or clothed, it made no matter.  Every time I swiped a hand across my face to clear the bugs, there’d be half a dozen of the little beasts and blood smears to boot.  Insect spray and lotion was applied early and often.  They just kept coming.

At about 10 miles into the trail, I came across a down tree that stretched further than I wanted to go around higher than I could climb.  Not wanting to slow down and be even more feasted upon, I decided to crawl under the tree.  Brilliant plan turned to decided disaster as a loop from my hiking pack hooked onto a broken tree branch and completely immobilized me.  It took several minutes and an ounce of blood before I was able to free myself and continue on.

One of the worst things you can do when the bugs are this thick is get lost.  It wasn’t even lunch time and I had already gotten turned around 3 times.  The trail passing through the Pike Lake segment had an unmapped detour followed by an intersection of multiple crisscrossing trails.  It’s almost as if the world read my post from a few days ago about having less obstacles and said, “here you go, enjoy the sled ride.” If I had to guess, I backtracked about 2 extra trail miles today.

I missed Brianna on the trail a lot today.  When she & I have difficult days on trail together, she blows up like a firecracker and breaths fires of complaint.  My role in hard times is to stay positive, or “shoot sunshine out of my butt”, as she likes to say.  Without Brianna around to be strong for, tough times like today are just painful; my butt is just a butt without sunshine.

My 24 hour challenge ended around 11:45pm, 6 hours and 15 minutes shy of the goal.  Brianna and I had a solid routine going throughout the later part of the day that allowed me to hike 3ish miles and meet her for regular breaks. The fanny pack I used to replace my backpack held a couple snacks and an emergency Body Armor drink so I’d have something to sustain me if I wandered off trail in the dark.

The night hike went much better than the bugs and turnarounds that plagued me throughout the daylight hours; mosquitoes disappeared after sundown and I didn’t get lost a single time in the dark.  Prairie paths out and away from tree cover allowed me to turn the head lamp off for long periods of time and hike by the natural light of a full moon.  My mind and my legs were both strong enough to keep hiking and I was having a blast doing it!  The quest to hike for 24 continuous hours failed when the wet ground and rocks broke my feet. One moment, I was walking and feeling like we would make it until 0630 in the morning, the next moment I was trying to figure out how to hobble .7 miles back to Brianna and the car.

This is why it’s important to allow bucket list items to be written in after they happen as well.  I never knew I wanted to hike 38.4 miles on the Ice Age Trail under the light of a full moon.  Now that I’ve done it, I understand how special and rare this opportunity was.  Thank you for helping making this happen, Brianna!

One Reply to “Day 47 – IAT Mile 915.4 to 954.0”

  1. Hello Marty and Brianna, where exactly are you on your hike? You mentioned Pike lake last on 8/20. I live in West Bend and would like to see if I can help you out in any way.
    It is 8/23 and I am heading out of town until tomorrow afternoon. But am available Tuesday night 8/24-Thursday 8/26. You are welcome to spend the night at my home shower etc anytime between 8/24 afternoon and 8/26.
    Let me know what works for you.
    I am the lone female hiker you met on the trail near Antigo the day the storms started in July. My name is Mary.

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