Knowing how far I need to hike today, I kept my alarm set at 5:45am so I could eat and pack in the dark, then hit the trail at first light. With the days getting a little longer, I’m able to get moving at 6:45 without a flashlight, which is a must on big mile days. My early wake up was great to eat and pack as planned, but my water filter was a little dirty and it took awhile to back flush the particles out and fill up my water containers. I was able to use the slight delay to get the pictures from yesterdays blog to load. That is always a process when the signal is there but weak, but if I switch my phone to airplane mode then turn it back off again, sometimes my phone can grab signal again. It usually takes that method a few times per picture, and I usually spend about 20 minutes a day just to get the blog to post.
With the delay, I finally hit the trail at 7:15 this morning, but I was feeling really good and my stride was strong. For the first 2 1/2 miles I was traveling through wetlands and trying hard to keep my shoes dry, but I still keep a fast pace. I did see a big snake in my way that looked like a water moccasin at first with its large size, but it was all black and I don’t think it was poisonous. I had just enough time to snap a picture before it dove into the same water I was trying to stay out of. I thought to myself; what about all those barefoot wade throughs I’ve been doing… Oh well, I guess.
The next 7 miles were on some easy, hard pact sand roads, which let me keep my stride open for some fast moving. On the sand road I crossed the milestone of 500 mile traveled so far! In a celebratory moment I used my trekking pole to write out the achievement in the sand and take a photo. Just a bit further down the trail, I moved into the Etoniah forest which is a place I’d like to hike again. It had stunning views that the camera just couldn’t even come close to capturing that were all around and always changing. The terrain was swampy in parts, wooded in others with hills and deep valleys cut through it. I took a picture while standing on the sandy cliffs edge, with a creek cutting its path 75 feet below me. I don’t know where that creek was taking the earth, but has been doing it for thousands of years to cut that deep. It was a very cool sight to see.
As I left the Etoniah forest, I walked out onto a 10 mile road walk down country roads. They are the link between Etoniah and the Gold Head Branch State Forest. The roads were void of a shoulder and they had steep banks on either side of the road. They were so narrow that the only shoulder to walk on was the white paint sprayed on the edge of the road (and even on the grass). So I just stepped off the road when cars would come and wait my turn to use the flat road to travel on. Most folks were friendly though and gave a wide birth as they passed, and all with a wave. Along the way three separate cars even pulled over to chat about where I was headed and to offer a ride (which I turned down, of course).
One worrisome thing that I haven’t mentioned before is how my right knee is doing. I have a cadaver ACL in there (that isn’t quite right), a torn meniscus, and lots of bone spurs throughout the knee joint. I really thought that my knee was going to be my main problem, but I think all the foot issues and Achilles Tendon flair ups have kept me from straining it. Until today. I was pushing hard all day (I was at 13 miles by 11:30 this morning) and the road walk finally got to me. Not for long though (maybe two or three miles) but my knee was definitely feeling todays efforts and let me know to slow it down a bit. Once I got back on the wooded trail in the State Forest it started feeling better, but now I dread the road walks even more and I will have to watch it closely.
I finally completed my marathon day around 5:30pm and happily set up my camp so I could shovel some calories into my awaiting belly. It sure was a long day, but luckily it was overcast and cool which allowed me to do it, but either way, I don’t foresee me pushing my days this long in the near future, unless weather and trail conditions are perfect (but 20 mile days should be doable if I keep my pack light).
I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more…
Lunch in a dry section of the wetlands
this is the deeply cut ravine made by a small creek. It was way steeper and deeper then this photo captures
I love how the Cypress trees grow out of the swamp