I just finished my "Graduation afterglow hiking" on Indiana’s Knobstone Trail—a carefully designed trail that figures to offer the maximum amount of knee pain for the maximum amount of effort.
We started at Deam lake (South end) Monday afternoon and walked about 5 miles in blazing sun (the oak trees were just coming out so the sun came thru strongly giving us both a pink tint now). We did slow walking @ 1MPH, but that looked good to others since we forgot the walking sticks and had stopped at a CVS and bought Sharon a cane--thus other hikers would see this old couple—“One even was walking with a cane!” making 1mph look pretty good. (Alas, we only we only saw two other sets of hikers--and one of them passed us while seated so the effect was lost on 50% of the hikers ...and it turned out we already knew the other set). My foot muscle (I call it a heal spur but I don't think it really is) and Sharon’s catching up for the last 10 years of administration are the causes of the reduced pace). We camped about five miles into the trail in a never-before-used stealth campsite
On Tuesday we walked again all day in the sun. On this evening we passed Southbound Hikers Adam & Becky Thada, just graduated from IWU who were headed south. We had hidden a key to our car behind one of our tires and they agreed to take our car back to the north end of the trail and drop it off where they had left their car --meaning neither of us had to hitch-hike back to our cars. Nice break, though we will miss riding with the toothless chewin' locals now. We made about ten miles in nine hours this day—nothing to brag about to fastpackers, but "hey, we're out here!."
On Wednesday the sun disappeared and we trudged all day under cloudy skies--up and down and up and down the irritating and terribly-built Knobstone trail (Indiana does not deserve to have a hiking trail!) Sharon loved her cane and decided to never use walking sticks again. We negotiated the infamous Knobstone "steps" built by trail-design-challenged Indiana DNR people. At 4:30 the huge front came through with banging thunder and huge raindrops and we pitched our Henry Shires Tarptent just as the thunder bursts broke loose. Alas, in the rush we pitched the TarpTent on a major runoff drainage and the water flowed right under our tent--about an inch deep. You could pat the floor of the tent and there was a nice cushion of water there. You could also pat the INSIDE of the tarp tent and get wet too—having failed to maintain the “interior bathtub” carefully in the rush. We got a bit wet but not seriously so, bailing out the water like a cnoe, and re-establishing the “bathtub” correctly so the water stayed OUTSIDE the tub, the rest of the night was sorta dry. We lay in the tent the rest of the evening and watched "24" in our imaginations (we just started on “24” and are up to 4AM on day one of the California primary now) but the mental reruns got boring soon. The tremendous rainstorm continued all night. After a restless night with 2" puddles surrounding the tent, and a 1” runoff running underneath us all night, we awoke to a fine drizzle the next morning and packed up our damp everythings and walked in the drizzle.
Thursday we walked in muck--the several-inch rain had turned the trail into a mudpie. The creeks were 6-10' wide or mroe and we gave up jumping them all and simply splashed through them We made our self-assigned 10 miles in the dripping rain by suppertime to "the Favorite IWU campsite" at mile 36--the one by the creek. As I was about to get the tarptent out, Sharon suggested 'Let's keep walking--after all, all we can do is sit here in the tent bored" (I'm not very interesting, actually, and we had re-watched all the 24 episodes) so we walked on and did another 3-4 miles, camping in a pine tree forest at mile 40--the one where Woodbury-Kind & Schmerse-to-be camped last.
Awaking at first light this morning Sharon led us in drizzle to the end on that final easy leg of the Knobber arriving at the car (nicely placed there by Adam and Becky) by 11AM this morning. We tossed our wet stuff into he trunk, cranked up the heater full speed and drove home with all our windows open. Arriving in Marion by 2PM, we unloaded the car into the washer and/or drier and are now headed for a delightful evening watching the next few hours of "24".
I almost always need to get away right after graduation—to not think about school for a while and this worked. This time I was able to do the runaway trip with Sharon which was a real treat. This hike was also a test hike of sorts--to see how we'll fare on the Colo. Trail with the faculty hiking club this coming August. The Knobber maxim "ten will get you 15" (10 miles on the Knobber will get you 15 out West) means we will be able to survive the Colo Trail—at least in the “stay-back group” on that hike. We’ll let the Marathon runners and youngsters go ahead and we'll bring up the rear an go for 75 instead of 100 miles. That will work since Jeanie Argot plans to take that hike on her worn out knees--she needs knee replacements but plans to wear out her birth-knees on that hike. She can do 15 on broken knees she thinks. We also decided to "do more cooking" on that hike, nudging the hike more toward "camping along the Colorado Trail" than just "long distance fast packing."
Also, this hike once again reminded of Sharon's indomitable spirit—she is not a natural hiker and never hiked oververnight when she married me. But when you toss at her a thousand stairs and several days of rain and she just sticks with it and gets stronger every day. I remembered this week why we stuck it out and finished that thousand mile AT hike back in ‘72--you "just do it." (then you take a shower and watch a few more hours of "24.")
Mark & Jess & Paul—we knocked over a tree each for you and remembered the “Platypus prank” and the Maundy Thursday and Easter services at the appropriate places. Remembered places where Burt, & Kerry & Phil and others did this or that--many memories tied to places on that trail.