Tuesday, June 29, 2010

North Country Trail journal - June 13, 2010


I am at Pattison State Park fighting off lethargy after eating a big bowl of oatmeal. Steve and I are sitting at a picnic table. I’m barefoot. Pack explosion. This trip we are hiking the North Country Trail the width of Wisconsin, from a county highway on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border to Hurley on the other side of the state, about 200 miles.

This is our first full day, and the usual soreness has come, but I’ve done this enough times I welcome it with a sense of nostalgia.

Notes so far:

-- Everything went smoothly on the car ride up here except for a crying baby, C.J., the Hardt’s 1 ½ year old son, who didn’t like the ride and pooped three times. This slowed us down and his crying frayed my nerves. I hope he was happier on the ride home. It’s funny that I can face the rigors of a backpacking trip, but a crying baby nearly drives me insane.

-- We are dropped off at county highway C near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks. After saying goodbye and taking pictures, we start hiking around 8 p.m. We walked an hour and camped amongst some pine trees about 100 feet from the road. The ground was really soggy underfoot. I wanted to camp further in the forest away from the road, but once I entered the trees my feet started sinking.

-- I slept well despite being awakened a few times by train horns. Considering that I live next to a busy Union Pacific track, you’d think I’d be used to the sound by now. My old, patched up Thermarest (LE Luxury long, bought in Hot Springs, NC in 2000) leaked slow enough to keep me cushioned comfortably all night.

-- The first four days of this trip involve road walking. I don’t like asphalt. It’s really tough on the body. But I liked traveling down the dirt/gravel Dedham Road. We crossed an old iron one-lane bridge, which got me singing Rush’s “Red Barchetta.” Steve has never heard of the song. It’s still in my head.

-- We saw a black bear on the ride up here, running to the woods from Hwy. 53. That’s the first time I’ve seen a bear from a car.

-- I brought along The Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. It should make for some good campfire tales.

-- So far, the weather has been cool and cloudy, with no breeze and only slight precipitation at the beginning. We started last night with our pack covers on, but haven’t needed them today.

-- The white noise from Big Manitou Falls, the highest waterfall in Wisconsin, is lulling me to sleep. After we leave the state park, we will walk south on Hwy. 35 and then head east on Milchesky Road to County Highway A. We probably won’t see our first blue blazes of North Country Trail for a couple days. I saw a diamond NCT sign at the park pavilion when I went there to get water. Soon enough we’ll be on 100+ miles of unbroken trail.

-- I realized late last night that I’d lost the DeLorme map pages for the road walk to near Solon Springs. I looked all around camp, but could not find it. “I’ve got good news and bad news,” I told Steve. “I lost the maps, but I think I have the route memorized.” We found the map pages at the road. Lesson learned. Nothing can be carried in the shallow pockets of my swim trunk shorts!

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