Day 48 & 49 – IAT Mile 954.0 to 982.8

Even a failed attempt at a 24 hour hiking challenge requires a day off after.  Brianna and I took a zero mile day yesterday to rest my feet and prepare for the week ahead.  38 miles hiked over 2 days equals less than if I had just done two of my normal 25 miles days, but it could not be helped, we needed the break.  

A person who thinks themself wise might be reading over my recent miles and say, “you should have taken a day off before and after attempting the 24 hour challenge.”  I have to agree that my chances of success would have been greater, but then all the miles would be split between 3 days rather than 2.  My strength of feet effort was as much about efficiency as it was about having songs written about me in the nearby villages.  I knew we would need a day off before our final push, why not try to push it to the limit beforehand?

It didn’t take many miles of morning walking for me to understand how unlikely I was to successfully hike 24 straight hours on this particular stretch of trail.  The Milwaukee River and Greenbush segments have steep hills with slick rocks and long stretches of trail with overgrown weeds and fallen trees.  As much as I’d love to attempt the feat again, it would only be mileage efficient if I could guarantee a 50 mile day… even I am not so full of myself as to make that folly of a promise.

Today was better than Saturday’s hike.  I’m not sure if mosquitoes were less active  or if reapplying Sawyer Permethrin to my clothes during our zero mile day made all the difference.  I also managed to not get lost a single time!  These eastern trails have a lot more infrastructure support than those of the West & Central sections.  Hand pumps for easy access to clean cold water pop up every 8-10 miles and parking lots with some kind of bathroom appear even more frequently than that.

If I was hiking this last 200 miles without support, I’d likely be staying at one of the many reservable shelters just off trail.  These buildings typically have four walls and shutter style windows that can be opened or closed depending on the weather.  Most, but not all the shelters, even have a nearby pit toilet or porta-john.  This level of service is undoubtedly why they must be reserved and paid for in advance as opposed to the free first come first serve 3-sided shelters we stayed in hundreds of miles back.

Brianna met me for lunch about 17 miles into my 28 mile day.  She said it was going to be special and that we needed a proper park with picnic tables and shade to pull it off.  By the time I showed up to the park, it was just after 1pm and she was busy serving up grilled peanut butter and jam sandwiches.  Peanut butter oozed out the sides and down my beard as I bit into the gooey goodness. This type of grilled sandwich is a gift from Brianna’s youth that I had never tried until earlier this year.  I am a fan.

Lodging has been something we’ve been winging on a day-to-day basis and largely a topic I’ve avoided unless there is something worth mentioning.  We have a car, a tent and money, so our weekday options are pretty much limitless.  Last night’s stay was at a proper BnB called Kristi’s Inn.  

Kristi’s Inn has several rooms, but we were the only people there.  Kristi was sick and hadn’t been there in over a week but did have one more room that was prepped and available if we wanted it.  Such an odd experience to have paid via Venmo and to then walk into a large unlocked house, basically on the honor system.  However, having essentially rented the house to ourselves for a dirt cheap price did not give me the energy to play the pinball machine or stretch out on the couch and watch TV on the big screen in the common area.  We did as we always do, shower and sleep.