MARCH 8, 2005 — SOLON SPRINGS, WI
Last weekend Andrew was remarking on the relative ease with which he made it through the U.P. (compared to his expectations). Old Man Winter must have heard him and sent his fury on northern Wisconsin. The snow began to fall on Monday night and it continued through Wednesday morning, dumping 12-18 inches of powdery snow on the region — a big lake-effect storm by all accounts. On Tuesday Andrew hiked all day and made it to Drummond that night, staying in a motel to get out of the snow (he’d also been out for 4 nights straight). When he started up the next morning he had enough food for 2.5 days.
Unfortunately he quickly found that he would need more food in order to make it to his next restock. Because of all the snow his pace dropped from the usual 2.25 or 2.5 mph to just 1.5 mph. He became very frustrated with the situation — he was sinking down 18 inches with every step and had to lift his knee parallel to his hip to step forward…so much effort for so little progress.
Andrew got off the trail and took a snowmobile trail and a paved road to the next trailhead, skipping 7-miles of trail. His original plan was to jump back on the trail there, but he was mentally devastated and he needed more supplies — so he hitched north into Iron River. That night, he mentally prepared himself for two more days in these tough conditions. The next morning, he backtracked 6 miles on the snowmobile trail so that he could hike those 7 miles, which was not technically necessary since Andrew had walked to that next trailhead (so the “continuous footsteps” rule had been abided). But he was determined to not let winter beat him, and this was the toughest challenge he had been given so far. On Friday he reached Solon Springs, ahead of schedule, quite proud of himself for rising to the challenge.
The weather last week was very cold in addition to the snow. Nights fell below zero and days were in the teens. Andrew was fortunate to have two nights in 3-sided shelters. The shelters offer no warmth advantage but they eliminate the need for the tent and keep him and his gear off the ground. Packing up in the morning is much faster, too, without a shelter to breakdown, and that allows Andrew to get moving (and get warm) faster.
Andrew reached Duluth, MN on Sunday March 6th. Duluth is a major city (the second biggest on his route) and it has an international airport. Because he is so far ahead of schedule (and is now at risk of reaching the Rockies too early in the season) and because he has taken just 1 day off in the last 70, he will be coming home for four days. Check out his web site after the 14th of March for new pictures.
Miles hiked: 4405 miles (Andrew has completed 57% of his 7700 mile journey.)