Saturday, May 9, 2009

Long road hike - another adventure!

What happens when I have a day off with no plans, a NEED for some outdoors, a strong urge for an endurance challenge, and no car?

I wanted to camp... I wanted to hike... didn't know how to get there... didn't want to rely on anyone... the best way out of that scenario would be to walk. And everyone knows I can walk! So I mapquested High Cliff State Park. It read 32 miles. I rerouted the "shortest distance" to take it off of Hwy. 10, and it was still around 32. I thought, "I can do that." Adam and I drove the route Wednesday night so I would know where I was going, and it looked like a fun, long route.

I was going to be hiking all roads, and this was going to be the first time I took a backpacking trip like this since I hiked the ADT with my mom in 2006. It was the perfect idea, though. I've have these random fantasies (usually when I'm having a bad day or a bad week) where I pack up my gear, throw on my backpack and walk out the front door. So with this hike, I got to do that... but I had a plan and I was coming back home, but it was a taste of it, anyway. :)

I left at about 5:45 Friday morning. After 3 miles, my hamstrings were tightening up on me. I stopped and stretched really good by the Oshkosh Convention Center as I watched a fisherman struggle to bring in a huge fish. Then I hiked on down Main Street in Oshkosh, turned onto Harrison to County Road A, and followed that along Lake Winnebago for about 10 miles. Hiked through downtown Neenah and Menasha, then head east, parallelling Hwy 10, then south through the new hatch of lake flies in suburbia. Those lake flies were insane! The buzzing from the swarming clouds of them sounded like a power company! It was eerie... and walking through them was disgusting. I could feel them bouncing off of me wherever I had exposed skin. At least they don't bite!

The weather was BEAUTIFUL. I got a little sunburn in some spots, and even a fun white stripe across my right hand from where my trekking pole strap was. It's nice. Gotta love hiker tan lines. My ankle tan lines are pretty nice, too.

Besides a couple of glitches, the day went well. Glitches? What were the glitches?

A swollen foot and losing the campsite that I chose for the view. But I wasn't going to let anything ruin my day.

During the walk, I stopped probably 4 times for about 30 minutes each so I could take my pack off, stretch, eat, and get some electrolytes. I made a couple of mistakes... I didn't drink enough water in the first 5 or 6 hours, and I only got about 4 hours of sleep the night before. So that didn't help my situation. I had sore legs throughout the whole hike, but I did my best to keep them stretched. The last 10-12 miles were really rough, in all honesty. There were a couple of times I thought I might have to call one of my "emergency contacts" to come rescue me and pick me up. But I pushed on, determined and stubborn as always! My right hip/butt area was tightening up on me, and at first, it just felt like a big knot. I've dealt with that before... but then in the last 5 miles, maybe, it turned to stabbing pain that must've been hitting a nerve and sending shooting pains down into my knee, causing it to buckle a little. That happened 3 times -- that made me nervous. I think the cause of that problem was my pack -- the weight and how I had it packed. It kind of felt like I might've had a little more weight on the bottom, right side of it... so I think it was putting extra pressure on that part of my back. Anyway, I got through it.

My left foot started to hurt at about the half-way point. After the 1/2 marathon, the same spot hurt a little, but I assumed it was from my shoes being laced up just a little too tightly. I actually had to stop and tighten my laces on this hike, so I don't know that I had them too tight... I honestly don't know what's causing it yet. It's on the top of my foot... I gotta think about that some more and figure that out. I posted a lovely picture here of my poor swelling tootsie shortly after I arrived at the campsite. Right now it's about twice that size, and is now showing the start of a really pretty bruise about as big around as a softball.

So my foot is the worst of it all. The rest of me -- sore muscles, exhaustion and sunburn -- will be okay by tomorrow. I love the pain from stuff like this... it just makes me feel good, knowing I accomplished something crazy... I think. I don't know why, I just like it all. I like the pain, but I certainly don't want it to be something more serious. I worry a little with that foot that there might be a stress fracture or something, so I'll be keeping an eye on it.

The other glitch of the day was a mix-up at the campground, and I still think I was "had" by a couple of teeny-bopper girls. When Adam and I did the "drive-through" Wednesday night, we drove through the campground and I picked out few sites I really liked. One in particular overlooked Lake Winnebago and was right on the cliff. I got home and reserved it online so everything would be set when I got there. So after walking 30+ miles, I stopped in at the entrance, checked in and got my receipt that read "Site 39, 5-9." There was even a nice ranger that I talked to that said he would drop off some wood for me so I could have a fire! So I trekked up this huge hill to my site, and what kept me going that last 1-1/2 miles, was dreaming about dinner, relaxing in front of the fire and maybe sitting on the cliff with my music and reflecting back on my day. I walked up to my site, and there was a tent set up. Crap. I didn't have a way to get back to the office to straighten this out, so I had to find the campers. I walked out onto the cliff-view, and two younger girls were sitting there with magazines, braiding each others' hair and giggling. It was a little weird to me, but that's beside the point. I asked them if they were at that site, and they were. After some back and forth, and explaining to them that I'd walked there, had picked this site out specifically, and had a reservation and a receipt to hang on the site number sign, they gave me a story about the lady at the office being incompetent... followed by a very insincere "we're sorry..." Then they gave me the whole, "well, we're already all set up and would hate to move..." line. Being the nice person I am, not wanting them to have to move, I told them I'd take a different site, but they would have to head to office and straighten it out, since I didn't have a car. So they did. I got the site across the road -- right next to the bathroom. It actually was nice to not have to walk far for a potty and water after the long day I had, but I was really bummed about missing out on my perfectly picked-out spot. My theory is these girls got there, didn't like their site, and grabbed mine. They didn't have a receipt, either. Curious, no?

Ah, but things got better from there -- Ken, Pam, Will and his dogs came out for a visit. It was really nice to have some friends join me around the fire. A campfire is always better with good friends. Ken and Pam set up and stayed for the night, and Will took off with the pups a little later on. Pam brought me some Leinie's Creamy Dark, which really hit the spot -- it totally relaxed me. I was in a complete slumped over daze, staring into the fire right before going to bed.

It rained pretty hard through the night, which was nice... is there a better sound than rain on a tent fly?! Then it stopped early in the morning, just in time to get up and pack up. Pam dropped Ken off at home, then brought me home. It was a great day, and a great night. I'm feeling satisfied and happily exhausted.

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