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Day 2 — Easter with a Vengeance

Trailhead Sign

The beginning of our quest

We woke up and had the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast as our great Easter Breakfast (As you will see, poor Easter meals will be a common theme throughout today). After checking out of the hotel, we had a little difficultly finding the trailhead, but eventually located it. After finding where we were going to pick up the trail, we were not exactly sure where we were supposed to park, so we just parked the van by the Cook County Highway Department building and left a note on the windshield.

Picture of myself right before we hit the trail

Picture of myself right before we hit the trail

We started on the trail by 9:30. The trail itself was nice and wide which I learned is uncommon for backpacking. It was used mainly for snowmobiles during the winter so we had plenty of room hiking. The trail climbed for about the first two miles and it got a little tiring, but did not kill me. It winded through the forest and there was some nice scenery, although nothing too breath taking. Also, there was a fair amount of trash along the trail (bottles, can, shotgun shells, etc.) which was kind of shady. Shortly into our hike, I noticed that one thing I did forget for this trip though was a belt. I had worn sweats for the van ride, so I had forgotten my belt and left it sitting in Terre Haute. The old jeans I wore really needed a belt, so it was a little annoying having to constantly keep them at a comfortable height, but worse things have happened in history. We had 8.6 miles to hike until we reached the first shelter to spend the night. The hiking was relatively easy, although my pack did get heavy after a while. We did not know each other that well, so there was not a lot of conversation on the way, mainly just hiking in silence. We arrived at camp a lot earlier than I had expected — before noon. As I would find out, this is how backpacking usually works. Hike in the morning and then chill in the afternoon. I thought a lot more of the day had involved hiking.

Route followed on the first day

The ground we covered on the first day of hiking

We got to the camping area and there was a three-walled shelter and pit toilet there. It was situated along a nice lake (still frozen over). We decided that we would just sleep under the shelter and not bother setting up the tents. A little after we got situated at camp it started raining. And then it continued raining. And it rained and it rained pretty hard for the next six hours. It finally let up a little and stopped raining when it turned to snow. Any of you that have been camping know how much rain can spoil a day. When you are backpacking, it makes things even worse. We were stuck under the shelter, whose floor had turned to mud, for the entire afternoon. We did not have much to do except sit there and try to stay warm. We tried playing some cards, but the only game that enough of us knew was straight poker. Let’s just say that poker without betting goes really fast and gets boring pretty quickly. As the rain turned to snow though, we were able to get a fire going though. Scouting Tip: Birch bark burns very easily, even after having been rained on, although it does a horrible amount of damage to the tree. We used the fire to try and dry ourselves off some, but it did not work very well, at least for me.

Night finally came and we went to bed. Unfortunately, the smoke from the fire was blowing into the shelter, but I was already in my sleeping bag, so I did not feel like doing anything about it. Even though I had on long underwear, wool socks, and two flannel shirts I still woke up several times during the night quite cold, especially my feet.

A little backtracking now to the great Easter meals we ate. For lunch we had goldfish crackers and for dinner we had Kraft mac and cheese (just like mom used to make). They sure made me long to be at home having a nice hot ham or turkey.