Hiking Dude Blog
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I thought I was prepared. Really, I thought I had all the bases covered.
- In case of blisters, I had needle and moleskin.
- In case of sore muscles, I had acetaminaphin.
- In case of inflamed joints, I had ibuprofen.
- In case of injured knees, I had elastic wraps.
- In case of hypothermia, I had a rain poncho and warm quilt.
- In case of cuts, scratches, and scrapes, I had bandaids and antibiotic ointment.
- In case I got severely injured, I had my SPOT emergency device.
- In case I got lost, I had compass, maps, and SHT app.
- To prevent insect bites, I had a full mesh body suit.
The one thing I did not prepare for was to catch a stupid common cold! Seriously, catching a cold out on the trail? Well, that's what stopped my fast hike of the trail.
Here's a quick overview of my 92 miles in 2 days and 9 hours SoBo (SouthBound) hike.
Day 1: 270 Overlook to South Little Brule River
challenges: rain and overgrown trail
highlights: meeting an old friend, making new ones
Mrs. Dude dropped me off at the Border Route Trail trailhead on Otter Lake Road at 5:50am. It was too buggy for her to walk up to the northern terminus, so she drove off as I hiked north a bit over a mile to the official SHT Ending/Starting point. Very nice views there, with a trail registry. It was cool to see that a few other SoBo hikers had started over the past couple days. I had high hopes to find them along the trail over the next week. I hope they are all having great treks and progressing towards their goals right now.
The trail was dry and in good shape, even at the far northern end. No more than an hour after starting south, it started sprinkling. It felt good at first, but after an hour or so, my shoes and socks were soaked and I finally decided to toss on the rain poncho since the sprinkles were turning to real rain.
Soon after that, I crossed paths with my first two fellow hikers. To my surprise, I knew one of them! He is the owner of Campfire Dragon and a Leave No Trace educator. These guys were just finishing up a ~55 mile trip from Grand Marais to the north end.
The rain eventually let up, leaving soaked foliage along the trail. That meant mile after mile of shoes not drying out since every step replaced any lost water in my shoes. Much of the trail was overgrown, but that was expected up here. I needed no navigation because it was well blazed and a dent in the weeds could always be noticable.
A short break for water and a bit of food at South Carlson Pond campsite halfway through the day, and I was back to hiking.
I stopped for water again from the Brule River just north of Devil's Kettle Falls which was a mistake. Better planning and I could have just filled up from the clean spigot at the Magney State Park parking lot, saving 10 minutes of filtering.
I ended the day at 6:45pm at the South Little Brule River campsite. I had hoped to make it another 5.3 miles to the Kadunce River site, but the wetness had been a drain and I was spent with only about 2 hours of light left. I had passed the Northwest and North Little Brule River sites because there was no one in them and the South site was farther down the trail. I think it would be better to stop at one of the first two since they looke like much flatter and spacious sites.
Fortunately, there was a family already in camp so I got to chat with them for an hour or so. The dad had lots of questions about my gear and hiking, so it was fun, even though a bit more rain fell in the evening.
Day 2: SLB River to Trout Creek
challenges: wet feet, Cascade River signage
highlights: Woods Creek section
Rain from the night left the trail wet again in the morning. So, wet shoes and socks left over from yesterday went right back on and stayed wet until the shoes eventually dried out in the afternoon - the socks stayed wet.
I was awake before my alarm went off, feeling like I had not slept much through the night. A quick packing up and I was on the trail by 5:15 with just enough light to not trip and fall. Yesterday, I had passed the highest point in the trail and just a mile down the trail I would pass the lowest point, doing the LakeWalk. It's a slow, plodding 1.5 miles on a smooth gravel beach that is beautiful but tiring. Here's a tip: walk on the largest stones - they offer a bit more support than the pebbles.
Filtered water from Cliff Creek around 9am.
Ran into a group of girls from Camp Manitowash at the Woods Creek trailhead, taking a break.
Filtered water at East Devil Track camp.
Spent way too long at Grand Marais overlook at midday.
I think a wonderful Fall dayhike would be from the Woods Creek trailhead to the Pincushion Mt. overlook. The trail is mostly clear and there are waterfalls, cliffs, many tree varieties, and a great view over Lake Superior. It's about 8 miles long.
I filtered water at South Bally Creek Pond camp. Another short time loss since it is quite a way offtrail - getting water at North Bally would save time.
Hit my most frustrating event on the trek at the Cascade River. The SHT runs down both the east and west sides of the river. The main trail is on west side so I followed signs over the bridge to a blue blaze on a big tree with a trail leading down the hill. It quickly peetered out into down trees from wind. I followed tracks made by others searching for the trail until they all disappeared. After 15 minutes, I gave up, crossed back over the bridge and took the Spur Trail down to Trout Creek camp. I still don't know where the 'main trail' is to be found there but I expect it requires a more significant roadwalk west from the bridge.
Trout Creek is a nice site. Tons of flat space under huge trees and easy water access. Having arrived at 8:30, I set up camp, got water from the river, and went to bed. And, that's when I noticed the left side of my throat was scratchy and my left nostril was dripping a bit.
Day 3: Trout Creek to Oberg Mountain
highlights: Lake Agnes, Poplar River, dry feet
Another fairly restless night, but no rain. I woke at 4:45 and was concerned with my worsening cold symptoms. Nothing I could do about it, and I was still good enough to hike. I took quite awhile to pack up, filter water, eat a little, and contemplate if I had a shot at the record. The first two nights, I stayed at the same sites as the current record, the trail was dry, weather was looking good, and my legs were doing much better than I had hoped for. So, with finally dry shoes and a new pair of soft, dry socks, I got on trail around 5:45. Never did see sign of my neighbors at this site, but I hope they enjoyed their adventure.
The morning flew past. I made great time on nice trail to Agnes Lake where I filtered water. The entire time, my nose dripped - about every 20 to 30 seconds, so I was losing more fluid in addition to sweating. And, I would have a horrendous sneeze/cough every 15 minutes or so - probably why I saw no moose or bear. But, it was still just a runny nose and sore throat - no congestion or difficulty breathing yet.
At a road crossing just before Lake Agnes, I met two guys by a pickup. I stopped to chat and found out they were waiting for a Boy Scout troop following me down the trail. They were supporting them with food, water, whatever was needed. The troop was at Indian Creek camp, but I told them there was no sign of life when I hiked past at about 7am so they might be waiting awhile. Turns out that this was Troop 228 from Philadelphi, PA that had sign the Northern Terminus registry on 07/16 so they had taken 6 days to get this far.
After Lake Agnes, I got yet another Poplar River overlook photo. I have 3 now. It's a beautiful view. But, at about this time, I noticed my head was starting to ache quite a bit and my runny nose was getting thicker. Not good. I had kept hoping it might just pass. When I started to have a little difficulty breathing and hacked up my first blob of mucus, I conceded that it must be a cold and would only get worse.
According to Mayo Clilnic, symptoms of a common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. Signs and symptoms, which can vary from person to person, might include:
- Runny or stuffy nose - dripping like a leaking faucet
Sore throat - scratchy and sore from the nose drainage
Congestion - developed through the day while hiking
Sneezing - about every 15 minutes
Slight body aches or a mild headache - but it could just be from the hard hiking
Low-grade fever - not sure yet
Cough - not yet
Generally feeling unwell (malaise) - yep
I knew it would take at least a couple days to get over the worst of this cold. Normally, on a long hike, taking 2 or 3 'zero days' of no hiking to rest and repair will get you back on trail. But, since I had only 9 days to complete this, losing even a day meant I would not finish. So, I had the choice of finishing a full day of hiking at Temperance River S.P. or cutting it short at the next trailhead. Making it to Temperance would have put me on record track for 3 days, but would have meant a late night of driving for my wife. I took the spur trail to the top of Oberg Mountain to make the call and then waited until she picked me up at about 6pm.
A night in Duluth, drive home on Monday, and now it's Tuesday morning. The cold is running its course and I gained a fever and coughing and have no energy, so there's no way I could have kept up the hiking. I knew completing this fast hike was a stretch, but I sure did not expect the common cold to be my downfall. I wish I could pinpoint where I picked up the virus - it was probably at a gas station or food place on the drive to the trail since that was my only interaction with people for the 3-day incubation time.
Done Hiking Today
I finished hiking for today. You can check out my current location on the map and I'll post about my day when I am in coverage.
Done Hiking Today
I finished hiking for today. You can check out my current location on the map and I'll post about my day when I am in coverage.
I walked 17400 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 8 miles today.
Check out my current location on the map. Looks like everything is aligning for me to hike the Superior Hiking Trail again. I've been sweating up the local hills every morning doing about 10 miles and the legs feel good. The weather looks good with mild temps and just an occasional chance of rain. Hopefully, the humidity won't be bad. The plan is to head to Grand Marais on Thursday and start hiking at the Canadian border early Friday morning. If all goes well, I'll finish on the next Friday or Saturday. I'm hoping to do the entire 310 miles down to the Wisconsin border but we'll see what happens. This post is mostly to test that my phone blogging is working.
No Fame 4 Me
An old high school friend sent me a message on facebook about a new adventure TV show being filmed this summer, and said I really should apply to be on it. What the heck! So, my son and I both applied on the last possible day, with high hopes of fame and low expectations of acceptance.
This week, they announced that casting was closed and they've contacted those that will move forward with the project - we weren't contacted. :-(
Oh well, now my summer is free for other adventures. I'm most likely going to see how fast I can thru-hike the 310-mile Superior Hiking Trail in July. The record is just over 8 days, so there's a slim chance I can better that by a couple hours if I can just do it before the real heavy-duty long distance hikers discover this wonderful trail. Once "Anish" decides to do it as a warm-up hike, that's game over. (look her up online, she's amazing)
If you're looking for a companion on a week or two hike between now and November, give me a holler. I'm always interested in any place new, and I certainly don't need to hike 20+ mile days every day (but I can).
Green Belly Meal2Go
I've tried various nutrition bars for hiking energy, but they tend to be lacking in the taste department and get boring pretty quickly.
So, when Chris at GreenBelly.co sent me a few of his Meal2Go food bars to try, I didn't have high hopes. But, I'm always willing to try new things. Lucky for me this time.
Well, I ate 1/2 of a Peanut/Apricot bar (2 bars per pouch) about halfway through my 5-mile morning hike today. It was great! When I opened the resealable mylar pouch and took a whiff, it really smelled like fresh peanuts. The brown rice was crunchy and the tapioca syrup held the bar together, giving it a nice chewy feel. The taste was also very good, like dried fruit and nuts rather than sugar and dry flour. 3 hours later and I'm just now starting to get hungry again.
On my long backpacking treks, I'm leaning towards no-cook meals these days. I can see these Meal2Go bars being a great part of a backpacking meal plan. Eating a whole bar seems like too much to me. Since the pouches are resealable, I'd consider breaking the bars up and repackaging 1/2 a bar of each flavor into a pouch. That way, I'd get a variety of flavors while hiking through the day. They'd be a good on-trail snack for grazing as a replacement for trail mix or candy bars.
There are three flavor choices: Cranberry/Almond, Dark Chocolate/Banana, and Peanut/Apricot
The bars are 117 calories/oz in a good mix of fat, carbs, and protein. There are two bars in a pouch for 645 calories in 5.5 ounces. Each pouch itself is heavy-duty mylar with a resealable zip so they can be reused for storing other food that you open but don't finish.
I'm looking forward to trying the other flavors on more hikes soon. Find out more at GreenBelly.co and add some nutritious mix to your outdoors menus.
After tramping around my local area for the past few months, doing my 5-7 mile morning walks, and not having much to write about, I've got some news to share.
My next long hike isn't really going to be very long, but it will take a long time to get to it. Anyone recognize the photo above? It's a very well-known mountain and I'll be standing on top of it on Valentine's Day 2019 with my wife (and probably a few dozen other people).
Something like 50,000 people try to climb this 5,895 meter (19,341 feet) high peak each year with about 65% of them being successful. We are going with an organized group from our church being guided by an outfitter at the mountain. It will be an 8-day trek up and back down, but covers only about 71km ( or 44 miles).
Well, enough suspense - we will be taking the Lemosho Route up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Kili is the highest mountain in Africa, with Uhuru Peak being the highest point.
It will be weird to have someone else carry all my gear, have someone cook my meals, and sleep in huts. But, that's the way it's done with the guides and porters, so it will be a new experience.
I'm hoping for clear weather so we can summit and have great views since I doubt I'd make another effort after this one.
After our climb, we will spend a week visiting communities in the area, and going on a couple short safaris. I've never been to Africa, so this is a very exciting opportunity to learn more and meet people on the other side of the world.
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