Lost in the Mud

Mud, Flowers, and Miles

After breakfast, we drive back to the trail and I have to say goodbye to Little Bird. I’m so grateful she’s kept me company for 26 days and 360 miles. The trail wasn’t always easy and the last few days with the mosquitos were challenging to say the least but she hung in there! I’m going to miss her.

I am looking forward to having some solo time as well. It’s just a different experience. Greenleaf wanted to come out and join me but I asked for a few weeks alone so he’ll come out mid-June sometime.

The day starts with a short walk through a field and then the ford of the Prairie River. It’s pretty wide but not fast or deep so I just walk straight on through. It’s muddy going in and the trail is rumored to be quite muddy on the other side so I don’t even bother trying to keep my sandals dry.

I do, however, try to keep the worst of the muck out. So at some, I try walking on some skinny logs to get around a mud pit. Problem is that the mosquitos like the mud pit and start swarming me again. I had let down my guard and pulled up my net because they weren’t too bad. While I’m trying to swat the mosquitos I lose my balance on the logs and my left foot lands in the mud. I’m trying to get out of it but the mud won’t give up my sandal. Now my shoeless foot lands in the mud and my sock is covered in muck. Yuck!! I have to turn around to grab the sandal and while I lift it the muddy water pours out of it. Putting it back on over the mud-covered sock was a less than wonderful experience.

I squish my way along the trail and hope for a stream to rinse off at. Luckily I don’t have to go too far and the worst of it is soon rinsed away.

There is a strong breeze today so there are mosquito-free zones and I love them! Don’t worry, there are still ticks to deal with.

I put on the long pants that I retrieved from my bounce box and feel better about the bugs. The ticks stand out well on the bright blue fabric and I get to pick them off without panicking too much. Today is a mix of overgrown trail, dirt roads, and overgrown grassy tracks. The grassy tracks provide me with over 20 ticks. I stopped counting.

A small shelter has some dilapidated privies, but they are still good enough for me to use and not have to dig a hole. I call that a win.

Another happy moment of the day is seeing my first pink lady slipper. They are the weirdest-looking plants but I’m always excited to see them. I also see some bunchberry plants with their spring white flowers. I always love seeing those in the northeast when there are so many of them. And then in fall, they get the red berries.

I’m enjoying the dirt road sections because they are bug-free and easy walking.

I arrive at Town line Lake just in time for lunch at the breezy shoreline. Last night’s leftover Fajitas make an excellent meal and the lake water is clear and tasty. There is a privy here too and since it would be a waste of an opportunity to not use it I pay it a visit. Definitely in better shape than the ones this morning. I almost leave my toilet paper bag in there. Phew! Glad I remembered.

The parking lot has a picnic table and garbage can. And boy, do I love me a good garbage can!

Some dude wanders around while I’m filtering water and he can’t believe I walked all the way from St Croix Falls. Although he doesn’t know where that is, but I give him my mileage so he can be duly impressed. He offers me water but I just filtered and he offers me food but I just stuffed my face. All that’s left is some awkward conversation. Better continue on!

A little way further on I meet another hiker. A young fellow who hiked about 700 miles of the trail in 2019 before running out of money. He has a job now and took a week off to complete another section. We have a nice chat and he wishes me luck with the upcoming ford. He said he was able to rock hop but one look at his long legs tells me that I won’t make it on those rocks. I doesn’t matter, my sock can use another rinsing.

When I get to it I’m surprised it’s a small stream, I had imagined something bigger like this morning. An easy ankle-deep walk-through. Maybe I should have tried to rock hop. I just figured the bigger ford was still coming up.

There is more grassy track and dirt road but it’s mostly bug-free and not bad walking.

About 4.5 miles of Connecting Road puts me at about 20 miles for the day and I’m ready to call it good. I find a lovely campsite overlooking one of the ponds. As I’m setting up, my breeze leaves me and I’m immediately surrounded by my mozzie friends. I am happy to enter my safe haven and eat my dinner of tortillas and Nutella. Such a healthy choice for dinner.

The peepers are out in full force singing me to sleep. Or are they keeping me awake?

It’s the first night with my brand new sleeping bag which is warm and cozy and has a working zipper. Funny thing, it’s too warm to have it closed up.

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