We hiked about 11 trail miles today, probably more like 13 total. The parking area that the AllTrails app started us at was not the optimal location. It did take us to the Hodenpyl Dam parking lot, which was cool to see, but the NCT does not actually go through Hodenpyl Dam parking lot. We hiked a half mile here, over a suspension bridge there, wandered the Manistee trail for a spell, and then finally made it to the NCT.
Brianna likes to joke about how we are directionally challenged. The truth is, I’m pretty good with a compass and a map, just not so good in a car. Back in my Air Force Firefighter days, we used to attend ‘Silver Flag’ training exercises, a full week of building a base from scratch, chemical attack drills, and… search and rescue games. Long story short, they would leave us in the woods with only a compass and coordinates. I’m not going to say I was the best, but I do have the experience. Today is my 20 year enlistment date anniversary, had to throw some tie in there.
Back to the hiking… the first 11 miles of the trail were very up and down. We are hoping at all the early inclines will help strengthen the legs and allow us to push longer days later in the week. As of right now, Walkup Lake is 77 miles from where we stopped tonight. That means we need to average about 13 trail miles a day if we are to meet everyone on our Friday anniversary deadline. Funny thing is, we have already decided that tomorrow will not be 13 trail miles. It’s a weird spot on the trail, there are better camp grounds and water options if we just do another 11 and make up the time somewhere else.
Everything on the trail revolves around food and water. Food, because Shauna and Brianna like to eat, and water because you never know when the next good source will be. Today, for example, we ended up at a cherry campground, not because it’s cherry, but because the water we needed to get at was on the other side of a towering ledge. We had the option to climb down and muscle our water back up or hike an extra mile down to the water’s edge. Winner winner chicken dinner.
I’d like to call today a success but we haven’t done the sleeping part yet. Who knows what monsters lurk in the night… so I’ll stop here for day 1.