Date- March 9, 2020
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 1,499 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 24.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 278.5 miles
Weather/Temp- Overcast, 60s
Injuries- Scratches, hot spot on feet
Pain level- Moderate to high
Wildlife encounters- Turkey’s
Days without shower- 4
Days without laundry- 7
Today was the hardest grind I’ve done on this trail so far – or at least it felt like it.
We got a relatively typical start at 9 am, with 11 hours to get as far as we could. Once again, the day was mostly uneventful (overall) – although I don’t think I’ve sweat so much on any other day previously during this hike.
Early on (in the first 3 miles), we came across a group of around 20 turkeys shuffling through the leaves on the mountainside. They were about 100 yards below us. They were making quite a racket! But, when I gave a sharp whistle, they all stopped simultaneously to listen for a few seconds, before continuing on – double time. It was pretty humorous.
We’d been enjoying a lot of service road walking through this section. Although we had several miles of it today, the majority of the path was actual trail – for once. The trail included lots of roller-coaster ridge walking descending and ascending into and out of various gaps separated by long-ish climbs. I was getting plum worn out early on! I know Katana wasn’t happy with how much I was carrying her. The Little Dog wanted to work, but I was focused on dealing with as little rain as possible when tomorrow comes.
We took maybe four or five short breaks in the 10 to 15 minute range all day. It really wasn’t enough; it felt like the miles weren’t coming fast enough for the effort I put forth. On top of that, my neck and shoulders were cramping hard from carrying Katana uphill for extended time.
During one of our breaks, as Katana sauntered around, she wandered off the trail and into a thicket where she laid down. In all her sassy glory, she refused to come out when the break was over, forcing me to go in to retrieve her. While wrestling with the vines covering the barren bushes (leading to where she planted herself), I got a bit tangled and tripped up; cutting myself pretty good across the thighs, knees, shins, and ankles from all the thorny vines. I hadn’t realized those vines were part of the thicket. Katana: 1 – Kyle: 0
Da Feet, Da Feet
I’m not sure what caused it, but I also got the worst hot spots on the insides of both my feet (since 2016). I haven’t had a real blister since that year, nor a hot spot as bad as this since the same time. I can only chalk it up to the extra consistent weight of Katana, the longer miles, the rocky and rooty trail, the high humidity, and not taking enough breaks to air out my shoes and feet. It was a perfect storm, but I managed to manage.
I have consistently not worn socks while hiking for over four years now. In that time, my feet have never looked or felt better – especially when hiking out west. My feet are able to stay drier without socks and the skin on my feet has never looked healthier either. Sure they get dirty in my shoes, but after I wash them, they look like baby’s feet. The little bits of grit that end up in my shoes basically exfoliates the skin around my feet. Since they stay drier without socks, the skin stays tight and never gets soggy. Soggy skin gets pushed and stretched around more, causing huge unsightly calluses to build up. I have almost no calluses on my feet, yet they maintain their toughness and high resistance to pain and blisters. I’m not really sure… I wish I knew exactly what was going on, but that’s my best guess.
I called it a day in a beautiful forested saddle about 6.5 miles from town. Regardless of the weather tomorrow morning, 6.5 miles will be a short time to suffer before the land of plenty is within our grasp! I really just want pizza. It feels like it’s been weeks since I’ve had one (cause it has).