North Country Trail: STICK TO THE PLAN

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All of the research was complete, all of the different scenarios considered, all of the items on the lists checked off. A copy of the spreadsheet created weeks ago, documenting dates, estimated miles to be hiked, daily starting, ending locations, and water sources – each with its respective latitude and longitude – was printed and sitting on the kitchen table, just in case Andrew needed it.

Friday June 29th, 2018 had arrived!

After working from home and participating in a few morning conference calls, I arrived at the House of Optical for my first appointment of the day – my annual check-up with my ophthalmologist. It was 9:47 AM, I was a few minutes early, so I took the number card from its holder and as I sat down in the chair located in the waiting area, I had a peculiar thought “Am I really #1? Ha! This doesn’t happen often”. A few minutes passed, the receptionist called my name from behind the counter, and I was quickly whisked off to the dark room with the crazy looking chair and the eye charts with all those letters and numbers that I should seriously have memorized by now. My vision exam proceeded, first my right eye, and then my left eye, the opening question – “Can you read the last line?” – followed by “And now?” and then the battery of clicks and options to determine which looks clearer “One or Two”, “Three or Four”, “Five or Six”, “Seven or Eight”. I think my reply “Now I see doubles” completely through my doctor off his game!

At the conclusion of my vision examination came good news – my vision in my left was unchanged, still a -1.25, but my vision in my right eye had miraculously gotten better with age and was now a mere -.75. Still, not a big enough change to warrant new lenses for my frames, so I was returned to the receptionist’s desk to be checked out and re-supply my stock of contact lenses. Two pairs of contact lenses would be placed in my toiletry bag, along with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and the other items I deemed required for a 100-mile hike on the North Country Trail.

My second appointment with Dr. Muller at the Huntington Group to have my titanium dental implant in slot #30 uncovered was still hours away, and 2:00 PM simply could not arrive fast enough. It may as well have been Christmas Eve and I 10-years old again. I obviously underestimated my desire – my desire to put all of the planning into action, to finally get there, to be ‘on trail’, to actually start hiking my first hike of any real distance.

Finally 2:00 PM would arrive to find me already cozy in the dental chair, the lead blanket lying on my chest, and an x-ray of my lower right jaw underway. Dr. Muller walked in, took a look at the x-ray, performed a quick exam of the implant area, and with two small shots to numb the area surrounding the surgical site, my follow-up surgery was in progress. You have to feel confident that things are going extremely well when your oral surgeon states “wow, the bone in your jaw has actually grown over the implant. I wish that would happen more often”. It also made me stop to ask myself if the many glasses of Kroger chocolate milk had actually aided in the healing process. (I’m going with it!) A few minutes later, Dr. Muller finalized stitching up my gum, provided a little commentary – namely “I like it!” – and I was done.

It was 3:47 PM. My lips were still numb from the local anesthetic. The estimated drive time to the designated trail head parking area located on Norwich Rd was eight and half hours. If I stuck to the plan and left now, at best, I would have to drive across the Mackinac Bridge in the dark, would arrive at the trail head well after midnight, have to sleep in the back seat of the Grand Caravan, and wake to begin hiking tomorrow morning. Not exactly ideal conditions to start a 100-mile hike, and I knew I would be pushing it to complete the eight and half hour drive straight through to Ontonagon.

I paused for a moment, and a voice in my mind sounded “hike your own hike”.

In that moment, I decided I would return home, sort through the items in my pack one last time, have an early dinner with Andrew, and maybe take a nap? Then depending on how I and my jaw were feeling, then my journey would begin.

– Kelly

blog: Ramble Afoot
vlog: YouTube Channel
fb: Facebook
ig: Instagram
tw: Twitter

#Hike100NCT #FindYourTrail

North Country Trail : THE PLAN

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I researched for hours. I spent days thinking through all of the different scenarios. I made lists to check, and double check. I tested and verified that I would be able to communicate and send messages without cellular phone service or coverage.  I gathered and documented contact information for local emergency personnel, just in case. I created a spreadsheet documenting dates, estimated miles to be hiked, daily starting, ending locations, and water sources – each with its respective latitude and longitude.

The estimated drive-time from my home in Troy to the designated trail head parking area located on Norwich Rd in Ontonagon was a mere eight and half hours, would take me through the center of Michigan’s lower peninsula, across the Mackinac Bridge into the UP (Upper Peninsula), through Marquette, and then West on MI 28 to Norwich Road. I would set off on my adventure at 3:00 PM on Friday June 29th – after my appointment with Dr. Muller at the Huntington Group to have the titanium dental implant in slot #30 uncovered in preparation for a new crown, to replace the tooth that had to be extracted back in January. (That’s an entirely different story that perhaps I’ll share on a rainy day, but suffice it to say, it was Obi-Juan’s fault!)

I would arrive at the designated trail head parking area located on Norwich Rd in Ontonagon around midnight, sleep as best as I could in the back seat of the Grand Caravan, and wake to begin hiking the morning of Saturday June 30th.

The start of my hike on the North Country Trail would begin at the trail entrance on Norwich Road, I would hike East from Norwich Road for 3.5 miles to the NCT Mile 100 Waypoint programmed in my Garmin inReach Explorer, turn around, and then hike the 3.5 miles West back to Norwich Road. The idea being, if needed I could make any weight adjustments to my pack, place those items in the Caravan, and then continue onward.

NCT-Start

 

Over the next 2-3 days, I would continue hiking along the North Country Trail – stopping along the way to filter water and eat as needed, and to camp overnight – making my way to the half-way point, a back-pack campsite located just past the NCT Mile 50 marker and very near the Presque Isle State Campground.

NCT-End

 

Depending on how I felt, I would spend the following day or two relaxing a bit, exploring Presque Isle, the Porcupine Mountains, and the shores of Lake Superior.

Then I would set my sites eastward, hike the required 46.5 miles back along the North Country Trail returning to my origin, exit the NCT, walk back to the designated trail head parking area located on Norwich Rd in Ontonagon, place my pack and gear in the Grand Caravan, and begin the eight and half hour drive back home.

My plan was perfect!

 

– Kelly

blog: Ramble Afoot
vlog: YouTube Channel
fb: Facebook
ig: Instagram
tw: Twitter

#Hike100NCT #FindYourTrail

In case you were wondering …

An introduction to the gear in my pack and worn for my 100 Mile Shake-Down Hike on the North Country Trail can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/GIILXKZTIN8

You can also view my entire NCT Gear List here: https://lighterpack.com/r/1jooj6

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See ya on the Trail!

– Kelly

blog: Ramble Afoot
vlog: YouTube Channel
fb: Facebook
ig: Instagram
tw: Twitter

#Hike100NCT #FindYourTrail

It’s Here!

“I (am) ready to hike. … I (want) to see what (is) out there. All over America … people (will) be dragging themselves to work, stuck in traffic jams, wreath(ing) in exhaust smoke. I (will be) going for a walk in the woods. I (am so) ready for this.”

― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods

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Photo: Neil Weaver @neilweaverphotography

 

What: My first 100+ Miles and Shake-Dow Hike.

When: June 30 – July 7, 2018

Where: North Country Trail, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Porcupine Mountains

You can see a map of my route and follow me as I make my way along the trail via my inReach Explorer+ Communicator at this link: https://share.garmin.com/rambleafoot

I will try to post updates to my blog and social media (if/when I have service) …

blog: Ramble Afoot
vlog: YouTube Channel
fb: Facebook
ig: Instagram
tw: Twitter

 

See you on the trail!

– Kelly

#Hike100NCT #FindYourTrail