It was great having Maura with me on my “zero” day. I was bummed at having to take one, to say the least, but she made it fun. We rented “Admission” from Red Box, ate subs and just had a lot of laughs.
We also stopped over at the home of Langlade County chapter heads Joe and Peg Jopek. What a nice couple! Joe showed me loads of photos of the upcoming segments in Langlade County, known to be confusing. He pointed out how this county signs the trail, the difference in ATV signs vs. Ice Age (they’re very similar), etc. He also advised me to do a slight detour around the start of Parrish Hills tomorrow, since there’s a creek crossing and lots of soggy areas, which won’t be a good thing for healing blisters. And he and Peg will be dropping water for me tomorrow afternoon, when Maura leaves for home and I won’t have my next crew member, Doug Erickson, until the evening. What service!
On to today. I took it easy, only scheduling about 14 miles. It was pretty nice, I have to admit. We got to sleep in a bit, enjoy the hotel breakfast, let the dew burn off the grass so my feet wouldn’t get soaked and let things warm up a bit (overnight low was about 35). The last bit of Underdown I did was pretty mosquito-y. Ugh. I ran into my second hiker, Bob from Two Rivers. Bob has been hiking segments every summer for several years, logging about 250 miles/summer. Today he drove all the way from Two Rivers just to hike all day, then drive home – and it’s 3 hours each way. That’s dedication!
Alta Junction is a new, short segment, with nice, new signage.
I got about ¾ of the way through Harrison Hills. As its name implies, it’s pretty hilly. And they’re the long, super-steep uphills and downhills that aren’t easy to do either way. The nasty mosquitoes continued until afternoon, when a wonderful, strong breeze blew up and got them out of my way.
You know, I know the mosquitoes are much worse in the heart of summer. And I’ve hiked through much worse buggy conditions, like some biting black flies in British Columbia that relentlessly pestered me for hours on end. So the mosquitoes I’ve encountered thus far haven’t been that bad. And yet … they are. When you’re hiking all day, every day, even a modest number of mosquitoes buzzing in your ears, lodging in your eyes, biting your shoulders, etc. are highly annoying. Sometimes I yell at them out loud. Like, “Knock it off, already!” Or, “That. Is. Enough!” Doesn’t help, of course, but it makes me feel better.
This afternoon I ran into another thru-hiker, Adam from the Milwaukee area. He said Parrish Hills wasn’t too bad, but the Kettlebowl is difficult. These are the Langlade County segments often mentioned as confusing. I’m ready to tackle them after Joe’s tutorial yesterday, but I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous. I’ll be tackling Parrish Hills right when my crew is changing, so I’ll be alone in there. Yikes!
So Harrison Hills so far has been mostly lovely. Nice trails, albeit some quite hard. There were just two really nasty sections of overgrown raspberries that cut me to shreds and tripped me. When I made it through, I rewarded myself with a bite of a candy bar – and it was right there that the path snaked off in an unexpected direction, so I missed the turn. Luckily I realized it pretty quickly. And hey, I got a real cool mushroom shot on the wrong path (see below).
The antibiotics seem to have kicked in quickly. My feet felt pretty darn good today, and the fever’s definitely gone. Tomorrow I’ll bump up to 20 and see how it goes. Beam me good directional thoughts so I don’t get lost in Parrish Hills!