The end is near or to be more specific it has already past. I have ended my cross country trek at the half way mark. I stopped on August 13th and spent the next two weeks going around catching up with friends, again no rest for the wicked. Now I have had some time to relax for a few days and it's time to start catching up on some posts and emails/posts from people. I will be posting some more after this one to include other pieces of the journey. Let me start with the end though.
Iowa was a brutal monster this August and that is being nice. The heat and humidity were very hard to deal with. I was hit several times with rain but since it was so hot out the really only thing that was a bother besides being wet was that it kept the humidity up. I probably got lucky and was outpacing the flooding that was happening in Iowa. The water level of rivers was very high, I saw many instances of park benches and parking lots near rivers either partly under water or about to go under.
The heat was just rough the last two weeks on the 13th I was told the heat index was 113 degrees. The day before was also close to that, I very much doubt the heat index was below a 100 the first two weeks of August.
My feet were in bad shape and it was getting pretty painful to put in a full days hike on them. In particular on my left foot. Besides plantar fasciitis in my left foot I might also have a small tear where my achilles tendon attaches to my heel. Taken down by my Achilles heel, ironic, go figure. I started having a problem where I was rolling my left foot as I was walking, thanks to ankle support from my boots it probably saved me from spraining my ankle. I started and am still walking to much on the side of my foot to alleviate the pain from the pressure I put on it while I walk. I went for a short hike on Sunday just to get outside and it was a bad idea. I am going to have to just stick with day to day walking for awhile.
I thought I would make it to Omaha on the 14th but I miscalculated how far I had to go and was close enough to reach Omaha on the 13th with a long day. I was immensely glad that I was so close. I realized/accepted a few days before that I was at the end of my endurance but I wanted to make it to Omaha. Nothing else along the way compared to the last couple of weeks for the amount of gut check it took to keep moving. My feet alone (really the one foot) was enough to halt me but with the heat it was a genuine struggle.
So on my last day I was headed north on a north/south trail, damn those north south trails.. I ended up doing around 2300 miles total which averaged out to around 21 miles a day. As the crow flies depending on from where to where on the coasts it's around 2100 to 3000 miles coast to coast. I am not a crow so geographically I made it halfway across...
Anyway, I was heading north and mentally cussing/wishing myself to be on an east to west trail so I would feel like I was making progress. The humidity was about 70% and I was surprised it wasn't higher, I thought it was around 80%. The heat index was over 110 and at that point its hot who cares exactly how hot and the big topper was there was no breeze. I kept wishing for a breeze just a little one.. just for a little while... just any... No Go. Just heat and humidity, take it or well take it.. I drank around 208 ounces of liquid - Gatorade, water, Gatorade/water mix along with salt tabs and it was not enough to keep me hydrated. At one point I stopped at a rest point and I "got lost", I couldn't figure out which way I was supposed to be going on the trail. I was on a section that wasn't going directly n/s but still.. It took me about 20 minutes to reason it out using my compass watch. At that point I figured I was probably in a little bit of trouble from the heat. I think the accumulation of days in the heat I was worn out. Regardless of the pains I took to keep drinking I was fighting a losing battle where I was putting out more than I was taking in.
When I gratefully realized I was close enough to reach Omaha that day but later than usual stopping time I pushed on figuring I would just keep going until I made it there. I really didn't want to stay another night in the heat and I was worried about finding a place to resupply with water. My progress was getting limited towards the end of the day. I was stopping and taking a 20 minute rest for every 20 minutes of hiking. You do not cover many miles that way but I was wiped out. I flopped down on the ground in one place where I knew there would be mosquito's and there were but I was to tired to care. The little bastards feasted on me and I was so worn out I only slapped at the ones within a few inches of my hands, the others got a free meal.
I was passed by bikers on the trail and I knew I looked bad when a few of them asked if I was o.k. A couple of them gave me the ole "You sure picked a hell of day for that." (hiking) At this point I was so tired of hearing that comment in general and in such a miserable state that I would have chased them like a lunatic if I had the energy. I didn't have the energy so I just imagined throwing something at them, I didn't have the energy to imagine running after them.
On the trail I called a friend to co-ordinate a pick up when I was done for the day. I told him I was beat and ready to be done. He said if you are done why don't I just come and get you where you are... I was so focused on my goal and so used to having to make it to a specific place each day it just never occurred to me to stop where I was. I also wasn't tracking all that great at the time, I was actually in trouble with the heat. It was one of the most marvelous ideas I had heard in quite some time and I agreed. I ended up walking a couple of more miles and stopping at place where a road intersected the trail. A couple of nice ladies where there and helped me figure out the directions so I could get picked up. They offered to stay with me until he got there because I did the wobble dance while was talking to them, I came pretty close to passing out. In the end I laid down my ruck in some shade drank some water told them I was o.k. and just relaxed in sweet relief to wait.
In the end I stopped on the Iowa side of the border about 3 miles from Council Bluffs so it was probably 4-5 miles to Omaha, close enough since I am not a damn crow.
More to follow and thanks to all those that left comments or sent me emails along the way.