Thanks to my foot infection, today’s goal was a modest 14 miles (22.5 km), going from Underdown to Harrison Hills. It was pretty nice, I have to admit. Maura and I got to sleep in a bit and enjoy the hotel breakfast. Starting later also meant the dew would burn off the grass so my feet wouldn’t get soaked immediately. And as the overnight low was about 35 F (1.6 C), a later start meant the weather would have a chance to warm up a bit.
Anyway, I started on the last section of Underdown (I’d done the bulk of it two days ago) and it was pretty mosquito-y. Ugh. I ran into my second hiker, Bob Fay from Two Rivers. Bob has been hiking segments every summer for several years, logging about 250 miles (402 km) each summer. Today, he drove all the way from Two Rivers just to hike all day, then drive home – and it’s three hours each way. That’s dedication!
Next up was Alta Junction. Not too much to say about it other than it’s a new, short segment, with nice, new signage.
Tackling Harrison Hills
I got about three-quarters 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.
By the way, I’ve mentioned pesky mosquitoes a lot so far. I’m well aware mosquitoes are much worse in the heart of summer. And I’ve hiked through buggy conditions that were much worse than what I’m facing on the Ice Age Trail. Namely, these big, biting black flies in British Columbia that relentlessly pestered me for hours on end. So I know the mosquitoes I’ve encountered thus far haven’t been that bad. And yet … they are.
For 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.
Third Hiker Encounter
This afternoon I ran into another thru-hiker, Adam Hinz 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!
Back to Harrison Hills. So far it’s 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 above).
Thankfully, 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 my day to 20 miles (32 km) and see how it goes. Beam me good directional thoughts so I don’t get lost in Parrish Hills! Still hunkered down at the Holiday Inn Express in Antigo. I like this place!
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