Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 35: Centuria to the Western Terminus!

Friday, Oct. 2, 2015

This morning I met the Gray Ghost at the small parking lot near the Pothole Trail, on which the western terminus marker lies. We dropped my car, and then he took me to Centuria and I was off.

Another great day for hiking. I overdid it with the running yesterday – the tendinitis flared back up – so no more jogging for me. Knocked off the mile from Centuria, then did the road walk to the St. Croix Falls segment. The path along the river was pleasant. There were some soggy parts, and you had to creatively jump across some streams, but nothing too difficult. I spotted some bones laid out on a picnic table in one spot. Interesting!

Mindy Creek was as pretty as always, and then I got to hike the new Zillmer section. Boy, the IATA did a great job on that! The Gray Ghost met me in the middle of this section to hike me in, something he likes to do (start off or walk in thru-hikers). We had great conversation along the way, and he showed me a unique blaze holder he created on a fence post (see photo). And then, we were there! Chet took some pix of me, congratulated me and then we looked at the potholes and the "old man in the rock," or whatever that formation along the bluff is called.

I dropped off a trail journal in the office; Chet and Dean will be creating some kind of holder for it that will be placed along the trail in the park. The intent is for section- and thru-hikers to sign in.

I had to pay a fine on my way out! Rats. I thought I had this year's park pass on my windshield, but apparently I had last year's. So I had to buy the 2015 sticker (not a big deal), but I was also charged $5 for not having a pass. Actually, I don't understand that. The park office wasn't open when I arrived in the morning, so even if I'd known I needed a pass and tried to buy one, I wouldn't have been able to do so. But I don't mind, since it's a good cause.

Oh, I did happen to look at my watch when I ended. My friend, Jason Dorgan, who has the thru-hike record (22 days and 6 hours, I believe), finished at 12:34 p.m. on May 6, 2007, giving him the distinction of finishing at 1234567. I didn't get such a fun finishing time, but I was happy to see I covered the trail in 34 days, 4 hours and 44 minutes. 34-4-44 has a nice ring!

Yes, I'll make my conference in Las Vegas that starts on Sunday. I'll post again once I have time to gather my thoughts about this trek.

Day 34: McKenzie Creek to Centuria

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015

Today was another beautiful sunny, cool day. I love the fall! Began the day hiking the last part of McKenzie Creek, which was just as lovely as the prior sections. From there I moved into Pine Lake and then Straight River; I think it was in the latter where I had one misstep when I picked my way across a swampy area only to find no blazes or trail. I backtracked over it and finally saw that a directional arrow had fallen off a tree and was lying arrow-side down in the mud. I set it right-side up at the base of the tree, then veered off to the right. That path pops you out into a big meadow with a deer stand; you cross the meadow, climb over a gate (I couldn't open it) and continue on.

I love the Straight Lake segment, accessed through a weighted gate. This is another enjoyable hike with lots of views of the water while being tucked in the shaded, pretty woods. 

Trade River surprised me. I do remember passing the "big basalt rock" indicated on the IATA map back in 2013, but I totally forgot all of the other cool rock formations inside this segment. The ski hill area of Trade River, which lies down a short connecting route, was well-trimmed and easily navigable.

I've been fighting tendinitis in my left leg ever since the day I had to hike in the rain in my hiking boots all day, when my older sister crewing me lost me until 8 p.m. Today it felt better, so I did a bunch of jogging when I hit the Gandy Dancer trail and made it all the way down to Centuria, where Dean was waiting to drive me back to my car. Can't believe tomorrow's the end!