Saturday logged miles- 21.27
Saturday map miles-18
Sunday logged miles-11.83
Sunday map miles-11
I'm still trying to find the right amount of time it takes to break in a new pair of hiking shoes. I haven't found it yet. The hardest part of this section was that I was wearing new trail runners that had less than 10 miles on them and had horrible blisters. Another hard part of this weekend was simply getting down to the shuttle point on Friday night. I had forgotten a lot of things for the Friday night campout. I stopped at Walmart on the way to grab a pillow and comfortable blanket so I didn't have to deal with my backpacking pillow and my small down quilt. I also forgot beer and thought it would be really nice to have some for car camping. Walmart didn't sell beer and it took me another trip to the gas station to realize I was in the middle of a dry county. I backtracked 15 minutes to the next county over and finally got a 6-pack of some Country Boy Cougar Bait. I didn't exactly know what to look for when trying to find the shuttle point and I got lost. I thought it would be right on the trail, but it was a mile out. When I finally got to the grassy lot, I sat down with a few other challenge hikers and we chatted around a fire. I set up my tent next to the car and didn't sleep very well under the bright, full moon. It was really frustrating to wake up to a soaking wet tent in the morning. The grassy lot turned into a beautiful field of white fog as the Challenge hikers rolled in for the 7am shuttle to Heidelberg. I hopped in the front seat of Billy's Double Dog Adventures shuttle and we had a great conversation about traveling. I smiled for the group picture and was the first one who took off down the road and over the Kentucky River Bridge. I wanted to see what kind of pace I could maintain and for how long so that I could train for my future hikes this summer. I started out at 3.7mph but it dropped down to 3 around the middle of the day. It was such an awesome relief to come upon the support van with gatorade. I took a long break on the side of a gravel road next to the van and chugged two little bottles. I looked at my feet and knew I had to put moleskin on a few toes. Eventually I got back up and went on down the road in the heat of the day. I put my music on and tried to just cruise it. After a few miles, I had to stop to take pictures of the cool rock shelters. The moleskin didn't stop the toes from pain. It was really hard to push through the last 4 miles. I was exhausted and was regretting not breaking these shoes in more. At the last mile, I caught up with 4 ladies who obviously felt the same way I did. We hiked the last downhill stretch and counted the tenth-miles as we went. We heard water and knew we were almost to the cave and creek where we were camping. I found a nice flat spot and claimed it by throwing my tent bag down and left my pack next to it. I hobbled over to the creek and stuck my feet and legs in and it felt so numbing but in a good way. My feet were so swollen and they welcomed the chill. The creek was flowing directly from underground through Resurgence Cave, so it was pretty clear. The blue shale creek bed made the deep waters a beautiful turquoise. After a while, I got up and hobbled back over to my campsite and set up my wet tent. I had to let it dry before putting anything in it. This was annoying as I really wanted to lay down and put my feet up. I made the best dinner of Packit Gourmet's Chicken Ramen Rescue with creamy chicken ramen. It was tasty and flavorful. After talking around the campfire for a while,- making sure everyone knew about the backpacking trip I am leading this weekend- I crawled in my new NEMO Hornet 1-person tent and tried to get some sleep.
I woke up at 3:30 and did not go back to sleep. It was hard to sleep because the ground was very uncomfortable and I was in a lot of aching pain. Somehow I managed to pack up my tent- which was dry, thank god- and started up the hill away from the cave. I was going a solid 2.2 miles per hour. I couldn't even begin to tell you all the negative thoughts that flooded through my head. This shit was hard. I looked at the elevation profile and gasped in horror. It was literally a gradual uphill for about 6 miles. Then it was flat for 5 miles and downhill for 1. I was so discouraged and in pain, I stopped to put Chris's phone number in my phone. I thought about texting him to pick me up so I could bail. As beautiful as the trail was, I just couldn't enjoy it. I stopped on the trail and sat on a rock at a particular long, steep hill. Margo caught up with me and I knew I had to keep going with her, or I might not make it. We went at the same steady pace all the way until the last mile. I enjoy letting my body propel me downhill with some tricky footwork and Margo took the safe route and hiked down with her trekking poles. At the bottom of the hill, the trail came out at a wide creek and then on a road that led to the shuttle pick-up point. I let my feet get submerged in the cool water as I tried to get down the road one more tenth mile. Chris picked us up on 421 and drove us back to the grassy lot. I got in my car, exhausted, and somehow made it 3 hours home with a nice stop at Jimmy John's.
Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail
This trail is 333 miles long running from Morehead, KY to Oneida, TN. These blogs are about my experiences backpacking this trail. I've hiked every section at least once and was a class of 2019 Hiker Challenge participant.