Homer's Travels: Hiking Nebraska: The Steamboat Trace - Part Two

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hiking Nebraska: The Steamboat Trace - Part Two

Day two of my Steamboat Trace ordeal started rather late for me as the River Inn doesn't serve breakfast until 8:30 AM.  I got up a little before 8:00 AM, restuffed my pack, and headed up to the breakfast area.  I was early but they were serving beverages so I found a place to sit down and drank some water and sipped the tasty orange/pineapple/mystery fruit slushy that was on the table.

Breakfast was promptly served at 8:30 AM and consisted of a large breakfast burrito, hashbrowns, a blueberry muffin, and a skewer of fruit (There was no choice in the matter).  I have to say I'm not fond of Mexican food, tortillas in particular, but, despite the rather large and heavy dinner the night before, I cleared that plate. Between bites I talked with my table mates who, mostly, were passing through to somewhere else ... kind of like me I guess.

I apologized for eating and running, bid my farewells, and headed out at 9:00 AM.  Experience has taught me that the first ten miles of a flat hike are rather easy and the second ten miles become difficult.  As I walked through Brownville, it felt like I'd already walked ten miles and that I was starting on the second ten.  I figured this wasn't a very good sign of things to come.  On top of the weariness I was feeling in my legs, the temperature, despite the skies being overcast, was already warmer than the day before and the humidity was particularly oppressive.  By the time I was leaving the town proper my shirt was soaked in sweat.  I kept thinking once I leave the tree cover the wind will pick up and I will cool down and the sweat will dry up.

I made it to the section where I'd almost had my hat blown off the day before.  There was hardly a whisper of a breeze.  Bugger.  The breeze there was a tailwind (thanks for small favors) but I hardly felt it as a walked.  When I stopped at the Honey Creek bridge and rested on the bench I could feel it more.  I guess the wind was about the same as my walking speed.

I arrived in Peru feeling like I'd already walked twenty miles and walked up to Main street.  Cotty's was closed on Sundays so I looked around to find another place to eat.  I ended up at a Mom & Pop grocery store where I bought a banana, a Mountain Dew: Code Red, and a bag of twizzlers.  Not the best selection but there weren't many things there that didn't need some sort of preparation.  They didn't really cater to the passing hiker.

I sat outside in the shade on a bench outside the store.  As I was eating and resting, a small corgi-like dog ran up to me and stared at me.  I shared a bit of twizzler with her (I think it was a her ... not sure).  After eating the snack she ducked under the bench and grabbed something and spit it out on the bench where it promptly fell through the slats.  She kept doing this four or five times before it finally came to rest on the bench.  It was a small stone, probably slate, about an inch square and a little thicker than a quarter.  She looked at the rock and then looked at me expectantly.  I took the rock and gave it a toss down the sidewalk.  She ran after it, fetched it, and, after several attempts, got it back on the bench.  I tossed it a few more times while I ate and rested.  I started putting my hand down so she could spit the rock into my hand.

I decided that twizzlers were a bad idea (they were giving me the bloaties and sugar makes you thirsty) so I shoved the half eaten bag into my pants pocket, said goodbye to the little, rock-fetching dog, and headed to the Peru Depot.  Peru was my point of no return as there were no easy place along the rest of the trace for a pick-up.  At the depot I soaked my handkerchief under the bathroom faucet and wrapped it around my neck before heading into the farmland-desert.  I surprised myself by not even hesitating.

There is very little shade along this part though I did manage to find a place or two to sit along the way.  I arrived at the large pipe where I'd stopped the day before and discovered that rusty pipe + sun = scorching hot.  I nearly burned my hand when I tried to sit down.

A little further along I started to feel dizzy.  I think I was getting close to heat stroke.  I sat on the ground, used my pack to prop myself up, and rested there awhile.  Fortunately it was still overcast.  The temperature was probably in the upper 80s or lower 90s and the humidity made the air feel thick and heavy.  It was often hard to take in a full breath.  After I left Peru I was stopping to rest every mile or so.  As I went further I started to stop every half mile or so.  I could tell I wasn't in good shape as I would catch myself weaving as I walked the trail.  I don't think I could have walked a straight line if my life depended on it.

During one of my rest stops I noticed something crawling up my pants - a tick.  I haven't seen a tick since I left California.  I knew they were here but I was hoping to avoid them.  All in all I saw, and flicked off, five ticks on this hike.  The odd thing is I'd seen none the first day even though I was in the weeds looking for geocaches.  Go figure.  I guess I have to start packing bug spray.

I finally left the farmland-desert and reached a bench in the shade.  I took off my pack and laid down on the bench.  It felt good.  I didn't even care when the remainder of my twizzlers poured out of my pocket onto the ground.  Oh, well, a snack for the happy woodland critters.

The last three and a half miles were a blur.  As I neared the end of a hike I think I usually speed up in anticipation.  I didn't think it would happen this time but I think I managed to push myself the last half mile or so.  When I got back to the trailhead, my Mom was waiting for me with a cold soda and some snickerdoodles.  I couldn't have asked for more.

The distance was 20.77 miles, of course, but, to my surprise, my average walking speed was 3.5 MPH, a little faster than the day before.  I would never had guessed that.  My speed taking breaks into account did slow a tiny bit to 2.4 MPH.

I have a few more thoughts about what I accomplished which I'll share next post.  Suffice it to say for now, I was very happy that I was able to finish this two day hike but I'm not sure I want to do it again anytime soon.


  1. Wow. Just... wow. I think you need to get one of those hats with the little electric fan built in!

  2. GH: Frankly, what I needed was a hat with a built in air conditioner. I'm glad i made it but, man, it was torture at times.