Up at 5:30. Thats the latest I’ve slept on this trip, but we went to bed at 10pm after and nice fire with camp friends and the moth incident…which shall now be referred to as “the aftermoth”! Going to bed at hiker midnight each night hasn’t been helping things, but my energy has been great on this trip despite sleeping weird.
Last day!! Only 7 miles to go!!!!! This is my 23rd full day on the SHT.
We said our goodbyes to the Thrive 5, Caleb and Matt at camp this morning and hit the trail at 8:45.
The hike out was hillier than we expected but the views were worth it. The extra mile or so to Fantasia overlook was my favorite part! I hollered several things out into the valley just to hear the echo, and imagined the score to the Disney film with the same name as I envisioned Hippos wearing Tutus dancing in my head (better than a moth dancing in my head- see yesterday’s post).
Down trail we met up with Caleb and Matt again and hiked with them to the end of our section: County Rd 1. More mushrooms on the way out!
We loaded up quick and drove back to Sonju to pick up the second car.
Next stop: Two Harbors to visit the SHT office. They were closed but I signed the thru hiker journal and we stopped for coffee and gas
The ladies decided to extend their trip and hike to the end with me. Yay! So we parked car #2 at Duluth Grill and drove 20-30 minutes down to Wild Valley Rd trailhead where Pam and I started our Blue Map hike back in June.
The Southern Terminus has one campsite (I forgot about that) and its a NICE one. Red River campsite has 4 pads, a new latrine, firewood, a Leave No Trace card attached to a tree and a chair! There are also lots of hammock trees.
The hike to the end took a little longer than I thought it would. I was anxious to complete this section and make it all the way to the end.
Once we got there, I felt pretty emotional and just let whatever feelings I was going to have, happen.
I stood there for a little while, not sure what to do, so I signed the register.
I cried, did a headstand (SOBO!) then cried a little more.
I asked the gals to leave me there for a few minutes as I soaked in this moment without feeling like I had to be or do anything else…
It wasn’t long before I missed my friends and trotted off down the trail to find them and start to talk about the tacos we’d be eating soon!
A mile before where the car was parked, we were surprised by some people uphill doing target practice along the trail. We couldn’t see them, so I hollered “HIKERS!!” “HEY! WE’RE DOWN HERE!” to make ourselves heard, and when they didn’t stop shooting and we smelled gun powder, we figured they had hearing protection on and ran out of there as fast as we could! Yipes! Not much else we could have done at the time and it definitely got the heart pumping. It’s not hunting season yet, but it was a good reminder to always be aware of your surroundings, especially when the trail runs through private land. And maybe throw on some blaze orange in the fall, even if it’s NOT hunting season just in case. We’re good now, but joked that we would title this Youtube episode “going out with a bang”. Note: I did stop by the SHT office, show them my video and let them know the location on the trail that this occurred. They agreed that it was probably target practice and that they would make a note in the trail conditions page and consider putting up a sign just so hikers are aware of the activity in the area.
DONE! We made it! Time for tacos, peanut butter pie, and a toast at the Duluth Grill!
We wound down the night with Trail Mom at the Olcott house in Duluth, drinking tea in fancy tea cups, wearing fluffy robes, giggling on the couch and watching our go pro videos until 11pm!
A long soak in a clawfoot bathtub was a sweet reward for my muddy toes. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a blister in over 500 miles of hiking this year. Its not by accident, I have a specific care routine that works for my feet that I’ll try to put into words in a future post. If the feet aint happy, aint nobody happy.
I’m still processing the fact that I am actually finished with this LASH – Long Awesome Section Hike, Thru Hike, midlife crisis, outdoor outburst….whatever you want to call it . I’ll write more about that later, but it feels good now and I am blown away by the generosity, kindness, strength and friendship that have come out of this adventure! What’s next? I have a couple of ideas, but for now I’m going to enjoy my family, running water that does not need to be filtered and being back home!
Thank you for following along, and please hit the subscribe button if you’d like to hear more about this adventure and a few more things that I learned along the way. If you want to see future videos of SHT campsite reviews, us ‘running for our lives’ with gunfire in the background, singing ridiculous songs or experience the retelling the “aftermoth”, please subscribe to the Wandering Pine Youtube proactively. Its going to take me a bit, but I’ll get those videos up!