Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hiking Nebraska: The Steamboat Trace - Epilogue And Lessons Learned

One more post about the Steamboat Trace to tie up the loose ends and fill in a few details.  It's been a week since I completed the 41.54 miles and I'm still not 100%.  My energy level since getting home is low and I'm having problems getting going in the morning.  Not sure if this is related to the hike or the heat we experienced this week (80s).  I hope it's not the hike.

I really liked this hike.  Sure there is about eight miles passing through farmland that are a little dull and too exposed at times but the majority of the hike is through forest and along the Missouri River.  I saw a few new critters on the trail - snails, millipedes, and raccoon along with the usual deer and squirrel.  The forest areas were damp but very green.


Since I went down and back on the same trail, the second day wasn't as interesting as the first and, frankly, I was more worried about my survival on the second day.  You can see my priority and interest shift by the pictures I took.  I took a total of 91 pictures along the trail and in Brownville.  Of these, 84 were taken on Saturday and only 7 were taken on Sunday.  A sample of the pictures I took along the Steamboat Trace are here.  There are a couple reasons for the disparity in picture taking frequency.  First, I saw, and took pictures of, everything I found interesting on the way down.  There was little reason to take pictures of the same things on the way back north.  Second, I was so tired and exhausted on the second day that I just wasn't interested in expending the energy needed to take pictures.

I also geocached on the way down.  If I'd saved that activity for Sunday, it would have never happened.  I managed to find five caches and failed on one.  For the record, I found Steamboat Trace, L&C Bobcats, Say Hello to Genii, L&C Steamboat , and Brownville Western Union (This last one was archived three days after I found it, not sure why).  I had no luck finding Peru Trail Depot.  I did find the very cool Bicycle geocoin which has wheels that turn.

A few lessons learned:
  • Moleskin works when you use it.  In the past I always had some in my first aide kit but I rarely used it until it was too late.  This hike I placed some on the balls of my feet where I'd developed some big blisters on the previous hikes and had no irritation at all - not even a hot spot.
  • The correct insole helps.  A few years back I had a bad bout of tendonitis. At the suggestion of my doctor I went and had a custom orthotic made (not cheap, by the way).  I used them originally in my hiking shoes with less than stellar results.  The heal was too thick and I ended up with bad blisters on my heals.  I went back and had the orthotic adjusted, this time fitting it in my hiking boots.  Wow, helped a lot.  My feet felt a lot better.  A week before the steamboat trace I pulled the orthotics out of my boots and put them in my walking shoes.  They fit perfectly and didn't induce any rubbing.  They performed well on the Steamboat Trace and they will stay in my walking shoes for now.  The top layer of the orthotic, the part your foot touches, is very smooth, almost slick, and may have helped prevent blisters.
  • No twizzlers while hiking ... or anything too sweet for that matter.  I have a sweet tooth but the twizzlers I ate in Peru just bloated me up and made me more thirsty.  Not a good thing on a long, hot hike.  I wish I liked to trail mix, being a good source of protein and carbs, but I've never really liked nuts and raisins found in most trail mixes.
  • Carry enough water.  Both days I had some water left when I got to my destination so I think I did good.
  • You can never have enough water but it never hurts to have a little something extra.  In this case I had a liter of Gatorade and some Cliff Shot Bloks.  I drank half a liter of Gatorade on the way down and half on the way back.  I didn't eat full servings of the shot bloks, eating only one an hour instead of the three every half hour recommended.  This was the first time I brought these along and I may pack more on my next long hike (weight permitting).  The Black Cherry are particularly yummy.  I also carried some protein shots that are supposed to help with post-exercise recovery.  The result of all this is no leg cramps and very little aching muscles the next day.
  • Don't carry Ibuprofen pills in your shirt pocket on a hot day.  I intended to take an Ibuprofen about halfway along the hike back north but when I reached in my shirt pocket to get the pill all I found was white powder.  I guess sweat and pills don't mix.  I fought the urge to suck on my shirt pocket.
This hike gave me a lot to think about.  My next long hike will be the Cowboy Trail.  I'd estimated that I could do it in 20 days (there and back).  Now I'm not so sure.  There are three back-to-back sections - 20, 21.75, and 18 miles each - that would probably kill me.  I may have to add some recuperation days in between these long sections.

4 comments:

  1. Have you tried making your own trailmix? You can put only yummies in it then :)

    I'm REALLY glad your feet are not hurting and you could get your inserts adjusted.
    I can't believe how green it all looks. It looks impossibly green :)

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  2. Miss McC: That is a great Idea! Time to start experimenting.

    Thanks, after 41 miles I thought my feet would be toast but they are magnificent!

    Green A Lot!!

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  3. Making your own trail mix is a great idea. Although, I did make my own GORP once and found it so good I kept gorging on it, so be careful. LOL But the best part of making your own is you can use things like dried pineapple that you may not find in ready-mixes.

    As someone who felt pain just getting out of bed this morning, I'm rather jealous of your happy-sounding feet. I hope you're not still suffering from post-hike dehydration or sunstroke or something!

    Congrats on the long hike!

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  4. GH: Thanks.

    I have the same worry about the homemade trail mix - I can see myself eating two or three days worth in the first few hours of a hike. I'll have to learn portion control.

    I was amazed that my feet turned out so well after these hikes. Not even a hot spot. I am feeling a little better but It's been hard to find the energy to do much for the last week. I think it might be the unseasonable heat and humidity we're having.

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