Cheese-Stuffed Portabella Caps

Cheese-Stuffed Portabella Caps
Serves 2

2 large portabella caps
2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
1 ounce goat cheese (or cream cheese), softened
2 tablespoons shredded cheese (your preference)
1 cup baby spinach, finely chopped
1/4 cup bell peppers, chopped
1/4 cup diced Vidalia onion
1/8 tsp black pepper

1.  Wash mushrooms caps. Remove stem from mushrooms. With a spoon, carefully scrape the gills from the underside of the cap. (This will give you more room for the filling.) Set aside.
2.  Combine remaining ingredients.
3.  Fill mushroom caps.  At this point, the mushrooms can be kept in a refrigerator for several hours, loosely covered.
4.  Preheat your grill in high for 5 minutes.
5.  Reduce heat to medium high, and place mushrooms on the grate. Cover and let them cook for 5-8 minutes. When some juices begin to bubble up around the edges, they are done.
6.  Serve open faced on toasted whole wheat bread, or half a bagel.

Nutritional data:
Calories:     124
Fat:             5.6g
Sat fat:        2.8g
Chol:           16mg
Sodium:     101mg
Carbs:      10.5g
Fiber:         1.9g
Protein:      9.3g

The First Camping of the Season!

It was a wonderful short weekend camping. It was short because we only stayed at the campground for Friday and Saturday, so that we could get home for the neighborhood gathering on Sunday night.

The weather? Well, at least it didn’t snow! It rained Friday night while sleeping until breakfast, so that was fine. Then the rain came back at about 5pm, and rained off and on all evening, finishing at about 4am with a tremendous lightning storm. It was incredible to observe that from our camper.

We had a late start (this was the first camping we did since the summer of 2010) so I was a bit rusty at preparing the gear. By the time we got to camp and were set up, I decided that cooking a meal just wasn’t an option. I walked to a nearby restaurant and ordered a 12 inch veggie pizza and some onion rings. Yeah. Pizza AND onion rings! My wife was able to exert self control and ate a proper portion of the pizza (about 1/4) and a couple onion rings. I, on the other hand, ate as if the concept of leftovers was forbidden by law. (The aftermath of that meal was swollen hands and feet from the sodium.) But it tasted pretty good.

Saturday, I cooked a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs (I made two servings, using three whole eggs and three egg whites) with sauteed onions, crimini mushrooms and green bell pepper, topped with some sharp cheddar cheese, and served with an orange and a piece of my homemade bread (beautifully plated on a paper plate!) Nothing fancy, but really tasty. I used an electric skillet, cooking under the awning to stay dry, and that skillet made sauteing the veggies simple.

Lunch was a simple meal of hummus and vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers and celery) along with some sweet Bing cherries. After lunch, we found a very relaxing path through the woods, and the three of us walked about 90 minutes enjoying the quiet of the trees. Tammy took some pictures of local wildflowers and when I get them off her camera, I will post some. We have no idea what most of the flowers were, just that they were part of a beautiful hike.

Dinner was burgers (equal parts ground venison and 80% lean ground beef), again cooked in the skillet, again under the awning because the rain had started. Nice symmetry to the day! I went back to the restaurant and ordered a basket of deep fried veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, onion rings, and that Wisconsin standby, breaded cheese curds.) These were not as good as I had hoped for. Maybe by that point I was starting to feel bad about eating all that grease-soaked food (which is really not my usual diet.)

The evening was spent playing cards with Tammy (and getting my ass handed to me! She was on fire!) because it rained constantly.  Ozzy spent the evening in a drug-induced haze, because he really does not tolerate thunder.

Don’t worry. He was his normal self by the time the really loud thunder started at 4am!

Sunday was spent in the neighbor’s backyard. It was a “bring your own meat and a dish to pass” party. We brought Grilled Pepper Poppers for everyone, and Cheese-Stuffed Portabella Caps for us (recipe to follow.) I never made that exact recipe (sort of combined a few ideas into one meal) but it was a keeper!

We’ll be camping again in two weeks. Hopefully I will have more exciting food pictures from that adventure.

And Now For Something Different

A few days ago I was getting the camper ready for the weekend and found that the taillights of the camper didn’t work. Subsequent investigation found that the wires under the van were corroded and broken. Yesterday (two days before a holiday weekend!) I was able to get my van in to the RV repair center. (Thank you, Van Boxtel RV!) In about 90 minutes, they found and repaired the problem. And to my surprise, for less than $60!

While they were working on the van, I took a walk. I strolled the neighborhood for almost an hour. I really enjoy walking. It is good exercise, relaxing, and it gives you the chance to look around at more things than you can see when driving inside a care. I was in the western part of Green Bay, well inside the city limits, but with some nice green areas with untamed grasses and trees. In other words, land that was previously farmland that has not yet been sold to a developer. And as I walked, I saw this.

That is a mama wild turkey and her poults (babies.) I was across the street from them, and took the picture with my camera. Being a curious devil, I crossed over to get closer.

I’m about 10 yards away at this point. Mama is taking them back to the tall grass, not in a hurry, but moving faster than the poults (See the homes in the background.)

I’m as close as 10 feet at this point when she suddenly stopped, turned and looked directly at me. She stands about 3 feet tall. Probably weighing about 10 pounds, she can fly at up to 50 mph when needed. I decided that curiosity was suddenly not as important as not being chased by an angry turkey, so I back away. Still, it was fun to see the animals.

Another post that has nothing to do with weight loss, just about what you can see and experience when you get out and walk around with your eyes open and ears alert.

Asian Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Salad
Serves 2 (as a BIG main course salad) or 4 (as smaller side salads)

4 cups chopped Napa cabbage
1 cup chopped snow pea pods
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and chopped
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup bell pepper (red or yellow)
3 scallions, sliced (the white and green parts)
2 chicken thighs, chopped (I usually use thighs saved from a previous meal)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1.  Prepare all vegetables, and assemble on a large plate in the order given.
2.  Heat a non-stick skillet with the sesame oil.  When hot, carefully add the chicken and the minced garlic.  Saute until heated through.  Layer on the salad.
3.  Top with your preferred Asian-type dressing, or use the recipe below.  (That recipe is NOT low fat or low calorie, but is high in flavor.)
4.  As an option, add rice noodles for a little crunch.

Nutritional Data for the salad (no dressing or rice noodles):
Calories:        290
Fat:              13.2g
Sat fat:           2.6g
Chol:              49mg
Sodium:          86mg
Carbs:          25.8g
Fiber:             6.5g
Protein:        21.2g

Asian Vinaigrette with Sesame Oil and Peanut Butter
Serves 2

3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons water (I forgot this today, so my “dressing” looks more like a sauce on the salad–but it was still very tasty.)
2 teaspoons Hoisin sauce
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice seasoning

1.  Put the first three ingredients into a small microwave safe bowl, and warm in the microwave.  This will help you mix the peanut butter into the oil.
2.  Add the remaining ingredients, whisking after each addition.
3.  This makes about 1/3 cup per portion. That sounds like a lot, but the salad is big and almost entirely vegetables.  The dressing will add a huge punch of flavor and excellent fats (to keep you full for the evening.)

(Note: This is my preferred dressing. My wife like Kraft’s Asian Toasted Sesame salad dressing. Another option would be Newman’s Own Orange Ginger dressing.)

Nutritional Data for the dressing:
Calories:        422
Fat:              41.4g
Sat fat:           6.9g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:        314mg
Carbs:          10.6g
Fiber:                2g
Protein:          8.6g

Black Bean Burger

I can’t claim this meal. I ate this at a local vegetarian restaurant in Green Bay. Kavarna has been around since 1999 when they opened in a small storefront less than two blocks from our home. We got to know their food, coffees and teas very well. At the time, I worked half time as a registered nurse at a local hospital, and took care of our sons the rest of the time. We walked a lot (generally they rode in a wagon that I pulled) and we made Kavarna a frequent stop. I got a good cup of coffee, and they both learned that Canada Dry Ginger Ale is a wimpy example of that type of ginger ale because they grew to love Reed’s Ginger Brews.

But this post is not about soda, coffee or tea. (Their coffee is fair trade coffee from Alterra, based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Really good coffee!) This post is about one of their vegetarian sandwiches. I can’t give the exact recipe, but based on the menu description this is close.

Kavarna’s Black Bean Burger

1 soft whole wheat bagel
1 spice black bean veggie burger
1 slice pepper jack cheese
1 tablespoon herbed cream cheese
1 slice tomato
Red onion rings
Leaf lettuce blend

The bagel is not toasted, but the cheese is melted onto the black bean burger. I know they grill the burger and then let the cheese melt before assembling the sandwich. They won’t tell me if they make the burger or buy them.  I have eaten them many times and the patties are always perfectly round and the same thickness. I think they are premade frozen patties, unless they are really fussy about production.

Approximate nutritional data, based on educated guesses:
Calories:    493
Fat:          15.5g
Sat fat:       7.3g
Chol:          36mg
Sodium:    889mg
Carbs:      73.7g
Fiber:         8.7g
Protein:    20.4g

The sodium content is high in the sandwich and is nearly unavoidable. I don’t eat here often, so I consider this a special “splurge” meal. On the other hands, I anticipated this meal and ate accordingly, and still have a sodium intake of 1940mg for the day (which is less than half of the normal US diet.)

Die Hard!

All right!  I finally earned the LoseIt Die Hard badge! But even if you are not using LoseIt, you can have the same success. The secret?
Don’t quit!
Log your food every day.  Don’t take “a break”. Don’t decide that “today is skip day” and therefore a free day. Make logging your food a habit, simply part of your day.  (I mean, it’s not like it is difficult to record what you eat, is it? There are plenty of online services and apps that will make it easy.)
Stick with it. Look to your long term goal. Enjoy the daily victories (both scale and non-scale) but never forget the ultimate goal. And don’t give up the first time–or the second time–you don’t see a loss (or heaven forbid, you see a weight gain!)
This is a long, challenging journey, and the only way you “fail” is if you quit. I know. I attempted a long solo hike and stopped during the second day. I did not fail. I chose to end that attempt out of realization that to continue could bring greater injuries. I decided that the need to feed my ego was not as strong as the need to succeed in a healthy manner. But I learned more from those 27 miles than I ever could have possibly imagined and those lessons will bring success at my next attempt.
Reaching my goal weight was not easy, but it was simple. I logged the food I ate, every day, and I kept moving more than I had moved before I started this path.  Did I see dramatic losses? No. Did I lose weight as fast as I wanted? No. Did I see days where the scale showed gains?  Yes. But I did not quit.
You all can reach your goals, whether it is weight loss, strength enhancement, or improving running speed. It is within your power.  Quite simply, it is your choice to succeed or not (however, the timetable of success is frequently NOT under our control.)
As stubborn and as focused as I am, I could not have achieved my success alone.  My wife, family, friends and the readers here all have given me the strength to continue and the reason to keep blogging. I am almost 18 weeks at goal, and still I need reminders to stay focused. I am changing decades of bad habits, and putting thoughts to electronic paper helps keep the focus.
Thanks for reading. 

Enough of the “weight-loss blah-blah.” More recipes will be posted soon. I think tonight will be a simple and tasty Asian Salad.  Check back later!

Logan Bread

This is representative of my snacks while hiking. Logan Bread, roasted almonds (unsalted) and dried banana chips.

Logan Bread
Note: this recipe makes a LOT (24 pieces, each about 2.5 inches x 2.5 inches)

In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and whisk together until well mixed:
5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup milled flax seed
1 cup dried fruit of your choice (raisins, craisin, dried berries, etc. I used dried apples)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup instant dried milk (nonfat)
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice (I used walnuts)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp table salt

In a separate bowl, combine:
2 cups water
3/4 melted butter (I used unsalted)
3/4 honey
3/4 molasses (I used black strap)

1.  Preheat oven to 300F.
2.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until thoroughly mixed. This is a STIFF dough.
3.  Grease a 11×17 inch pan. Pack the dough into it. It will be approximately one inch thick
4.  Bake at 300F for one hour.
5.  After an hour, reduce the oven heat to 200F and open the door enough that it stays open a little. Continue to bake for another two hours. (The idea is to dry the bread as much as possible.)
6.  Remove from oven and cut while warm (easier to cut.)
7.  Pack in Ziploc bags. 

This bread is dense, both in weight and calories. It is very tough, and was in and out of my pack repeatedly and none of the bars broke or crumbled. Yet it remains moist enough to bite and chew. The taste is reminiscent of a spiced fruitcake (sort of). I think it is delicious. It certainly was enough to support me while hiking (along with some nuts and dried fruit.)

At home, it is especially good if warmed in the microwave a bit, and then topped with peanut butter or Nutella.

Nutritional data (one piece, no additional toppings):
Calories:    304
Fat:            9.5g
Sat fat:          4g
Chol:           15mg
Sodium:       91mg
Carbs:       50.5g
Fiber:          5.8g
Protein:          6g

When I next make this recipe, I am going to substitute protein powder for the dried milk.

A Look At One A SIde Effect Of My Hike

I talked about the blister that ended my hike and the knee pain that was made worse by my inability to walk properly on my blistered foot. The blister still hurts to walk on, but I keep it covered and it is beginning to heal. The knee pain has resolved back to it’s normal “background” pain level, and is just waiting for me to visit the orthopedic surgeon to see how it will be treated. The pain isn’t even bad enough for ibuprofen or naproxen.

But here is a gift of the walk that will stick with me for much longer than the blister.

No, those are not toes that have been painted at a pedicure. (Pedicure? Me? Hah!) Those are five toes with various levels of bruising from improperly fitting shoes.

The first bruises were limited to the right great toe and the left second toe, and started with the practice hike on May 10. I was wearing shoes that were the correct size for me (9.5), but I noticed during the hike that those toes were rubbing against the inside of the shoe’s toe box. I finished that hike with light bruising and realized that I needed larger shoes.

I bought a new pair of athletic shoes, made by Timberland and designed for off-road hiking. I also added aftermarket orthotic insoles for better arch support, and quickly broke them in by wearing them constantly and walking in them. They felt comfortable by the second day I had them. I bought them in size 10.5 (and I thought that maybe that might be a little too big,)  I was wrong.

So, when I take my next long hike, I will be wearing actual hiking boots (although a pair as light weight as possible) and sized 11 or 11.5. 

As ugly as the toes look, they don’t hurt and are not swollen. But wow!  Ugly!

“Planning Predicts Performance”

I heard the title of today’s post while watching the TV show Survivor, and it is true. I thought I was fully prepared for my hike. And in my mind, I was. But physically, no, I wasn’t. Nor did I really know what I needed to do and pack. Like I said yesterday, I read a lot of books and online blogs from other hikers and they all gave me ideas, but none really replicated the act of hiking.

So, my planning really did predict my performance. And that does not really disappoint me. This was a huge learning experience, and I will be better prepared in the future. As I said yesterday, this was a victory, because it has made me stronger and more capable the next time I try this. (A failure would be deciding that trying it in the first place was wrong and never trying it again.)

So, a few lessons learned for the next attempt (and as my friend Charles K. pointed out on LoseIt, there WILL be a next attempt):
1.  More water. If the first quarter of the trail is representative of the rest, water is a precious commodity and not easily found while on that trail.

2.  Smaller evening meals (or none at all) and more snacks. Exhaustion overpowers hunger. Food that is ready to eat is more important than food which requires cooking. 

3.  Big breakfasts are good. (The one thing that I did right.)

4.  Test the meals BEFORE you hike. Don’t just assume that because they look good on paper they will taste good on your plate.

This is one of the breakfasts that I would have had today if I was in the field. Scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese. (Of course, it wouldn’t be served on this plate with fresh chives as garnish.)  Looks pretty good. The recipe I found called for 6 dried eggs, some bacon, cheese and 1/2 cup hot water, then stir and eat.

        But this recipe taught me:

        4.1)  “Dried egg” is not the same as “dried cooked egg.”  I bought “dried egg”, and when that is rehydrated with hot water, it becomes “raw egg”.  Ugh.

        4.2)  Raw scrambled egg is disgusting and requires a microwave or other heat t finish cooking.

        4.3)  The amount of water needed to fully rehydrate dried raw eggs is more than is required for dried cooked eggs.  These eggs were dry! Imaging eating a hard boiled egg yolk–just the yolk–and these eggs were drier. Ozzy ate a small piece and started retching because they were too dry to swallow. (And when a dog retches after eating something, that should say a lot about the food.)

5.  Loganbread is delicious, on or off the trail. That is a snack that I will continue to make. I will post the recipe soon. It is HIGH carb and moderately high fiber and fat, but a great energy snack.

6.  I think next time I will go without a tent and just bring my tarp. In nice weather, I will just sleep on it and if the weather become inclement, I will roll it over me. But I will test this theory sometime this summer, in my backyard, to see if it is feasible before I implement this plan.

A Victory!

This is going to be a long-ish post.  Maybe make yourself a large cup of coffee or some nice green tea. Make a small snack. Find a comfortable chair. Relax.

Let’s begin at the conclusion first. My hike is over. I called for evacuation yesterday afternoon. (That is much more melodramatic than it really was. I simply called my wife and asked her to pick me up when she was done teaching.) But I am calling this a victory.

That is me, with 39 pounds of food and gear on my back. When I first loaded the pack, it was nearly 43 pounds, but I was able to reduce it a bit. Next time, I can reduce it further.

The last blog post was short, posted from my phone, while laying on my sleeping bag. The bag was remarkably comfortable, even though I only had a sleeping pad that is 1/2 inch thick. The tent, advertised as a “2 person tent” is really only big enough for one adult and his/her gear, but it met my needs. It was roomier than I expected.

Thursday’s hike was good, 13+ miles, 27,000+ steps. The Brown County portion of the trail is either built on very elevated and steep manmade embankments or is cut down below the grade of the surrounding land. Brown County has many hills and building the road this way made for easier transport because of smaller elevation changes (although my Fitbit still recorded 840 feet of increased elevation over those 13 miles.) And the entire path that I covered was hard-pack dirt and fine gravel. It was very easy to walk on. That was much better than my test hike of the Devil’s River State Trail last week.

I saw many people biking on both days of the walk. One set of bikers were a young brother/sister pair. They rode past me heading west, right about the time I took my first rest break. I also reconfigured my pack a bit to get better balance. In doing so, I needed to remove my cell phone from where it was hanging. (Do you see where this is going?)

I hit the trail and about 15 minutes later the kids rode past me going back home.  And 15 minutes after that, they rode back up to me, and asked me if I had lost my phone. Wow!  It’s nice to meet honest, nice kids. They saw my phone sitting on the bench, picked it up and called one of the numbers and reached Tammy. She told them that I was hiking the Trail, and the kids remembered seeing me. They rode back and really saved the day! (Emergency #1 avoided!)

The flying bugs were not as bad as I thought. I never even needed to use any bug spray. But I also did not see as much wildlife as I thought I might. There was the occasional chipmunk and rabbit. Random birds. And in one low area, with a great many watery swamps on either side, I shared the trail with this quiet fellow:

I was tired when I finally got to the place that I could camp. The city of Pulaski allows camping in the little park that is built around their access point to the trail (very unusual compared to all the others that I saw.) They even had a bathroom (not a porta-potty!) with running water. When I got to the site, I pitched my tent, threw the tarp over it and tried to sleep. I didn’t make anything to eat. I just wasn’t hungry, just thirsty. But as tired as I was, sleep was difficult. The park was bordered on two sides by busy highways and one a third side was a large parking lot that hosted many semi-trailers pulling to sleep for the night. 

When I finally fell asleep (around 10pm) I slept until 10:33pm before being awakened by the city police, who wanted to know who I was, and why I was camping in this park. When I asked if the city Public Works Department had called to notify them that I would be camping there, of course she said that no one had told her anything. She had no problem with me sleeping there, but she needed to know who I was. (The usual interdepartmental snafu!)

I got back to sleep. My plan was to wake up at 4:45am when it would start to be light, start breakfast, break camp and be on the trail before 6am. That would have been perfect, if I had remembered to turn the sound in my iPod up. My alarm when off, soundlessly, and I slept until 5:45am. Oh well. It’s not like I’m on the timeclock or have a real schedule to keep.

I got my water heating on the foldup stove. It runs on cans of alcohol and works very good. Breakfast was going to be chocolate Malt-o-Meal with dried banana chips, pecans and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

If you look at the picture, you will see that the bag is labeled with both the directions (1.5 cups water) and the weight (9.3 ounces/ 260g.) I weighed everything that I packed. Every ounce carried get heavier with each step. (More on that lesson later.)  I was going to take a picture of the meal after it was prepared, but the image would not be impressively appetizing. However, it was tasty and filling!

I ate my breakfast and drank two bottles of water. I learned during my test hike a week earlier that carrying 1 liter water bottles in bottle holders designed for half-liter bottles does not work. Everytime I bent over, they fell out. So I changed to two 20 ounce (600ml) bottles. I filled them, repacked my pack and hit the trail at 6:45am.

Less then 2 miles later, I entered the Shawano County section of the Trail.

This wild turkey greeted me as I entered the Shawano County.  It was about 100 yards away.  To give you comparison, it was standing about 20 yards beyon that sign to the right and that sign it 5 feet tall.  Turkeys are fairly large birds.

This segment was very level. No steep embankments (or not many) and few swampy areas. Shawano County also posts signs at major road intersections, giving mileage to the next intersection or trail access in the next village. (Brown County only has mile markers.) I liked Shawano County’s method better. It is helpful to know how far to the next stop–it provide motivation. Shawano County also has more rest stops, picnic benches with shelters built over them, and in other spots just benches to sit. That is another nice touch, and I stopped at the places with shade. The second day was much warmer than the first. MUCH warmer.

And that leads to the first problem. Water. Except for the bathroom at the Pulaski Access point, I found no public water sources. Oh, I could have left the Trail and stopped at a home (depending on if the Trail was in an area that I could get off it and then back on it, or if there were homes/farms in sight.)  But I sort of expected that at each major access point (any area with a parking lot and sign stating “Mountain Bay Trail access point”) would have some type of water source. I would have LOVED to see an old fashioned hand pump. But there was nothing. If you don’t carry it in, you don’t have it. Major problem, especially in the 80+F temps yesterday. I went through my water in the first four hours of the hike.

On the other hand, the heat really sapped my appetite. I ate a piece of Logan Bread, but that was it. And I walked. I was still maintaining a 3mph pace. My knees were hurting, even with my braces on. When I woke they weren’t bad, but the pain started less than an hour into the day’s hike, and yesterday called for a 12 hour hike to make it to my next campsite. I needed those stops to give my knees a break, but that was slowing me down, and in all honesty, not really helping the knee pain. (Problem #2.) I thought I could power through the pain, but I was worried about what kind of damage I was doing to the already bad knees.

But the last and worst problem happened later on the Trail.  It was 10:30am and I had just crossed an intersecting road. The mileage sign said that Bonduel was the next town, 2.6 miles away. Cool! That is less than 60 minutes away. I knew that I could refill both water bottles somewhere in Bonduel. I was sure there would be a convenience store or restaurant near the Trail. So, with a renewed sense of vigor, I kept going.

About 10 minutes later, as I put my left foot down, I felt the blister burst. It felt as though a water balloon had popped into my shoe. Now, I knew I had a small blister when I got to camp the night before. In fact, it was the healed blister (or so I thought) that I got on my practice hike a week earlier. I had put some moleskin around and over the blister before I started the hike. When I got to the Pulaski site, I removed it. It looked unchanged. No better, but certainly no worse. I cleaned the area with an alcohol pad, dried it, and made another moleskin donut to go around the blister and then another large strip to cover the donut and beyond the edges. The blister was at the base of my middle toe, right where a lot of pressure goes when you walk.

But now I knew I had a problem. I was about 2.5 miles from the nearest place to stop. And the pain was bad. And I had no water. I walked the next 2.5 miles on the with my left foot rotated so that I walked on the outside edge (which of course put additional strain on that knee.) I reached the access point at 1pm. Then I walked another 15 minutes to get to any sort of business (nothing was closer to the trail.) My pace had dropped from a nice 3 mph to 1.25 mph. I knew that I was not going to be able to finish my plan.

I hobbled up the road, and found a bar and grill (Wayne’s Place.) It had air conditioning. It was open. I walked in (got a lot of odd looks from the patrons), limped up to the bar and ordered a Coke and a large glass of water. When I downed both (quickly) I ordered a repeat, and then lunch. Now that I had realized the hike was over, I was hungry. I have never tasted a bacon cheeseburger and basket of fries that tasted sooooo good. I think a beer (or two) would have tasted even better with the food, but as tired as I was, just smelling a beer would have made me fall sleep. I never thought to take a picture of the meal. My brain was not very functional at that point.

While waiting for Wayne to cook my food, I called Tammy and asked her to pick me up. When she walked into the bar, she looked like a guardian angel sent to protect me. Seriously. She drove home (was still sort of punch-drunk) and when I got home, I unpacked, undressed and showered. And looked at the blister. It is nickel-sized but the skin, while it had burst and leaked the fluid out, was still intact and protecting the wound. I redressed with with triple antibiotic and a dressing.

I covered about 26 miles, beginning at 3:40pm on Thursday and ending at 1:15pm on Friday. Over 57,000 steps combined. And even though I never even came close to finishing my goal, I consider this a success.

I tried. I gave it everything I had. If it had only been my knee, I would have pushed on. If it were only a blister, I still would have tried to keep going. But developing a blister on the same leg as my bad knee, I knew that I could not safely continue. I would not let my ego, my stubbornness, and my foolish pride get ahead of my safety, my health, and my family. What would be the point in pushing further at the potential cost of greater injury?

And that is really why I consider this a victory. It taught me that “not succeeding” is not the same as “failing”.

My son made a great point (sometimes he is far wiser than his father) when he told me, “You know, Dad, when people try those challenges, they practice for months to get ready. You only practiced a little.” And of course, he was right.

I do not regret any of this (well, the blister still hurts, but that will heal.) I will try again, but I have learned a lot to make my next attempt have a greater chance of success.

I need to carry less. As I walked, I realized that I could have stopped at least once a day and eaten at a restaurant or bought food as a convenience store. Sure, that would be more expensive and less self-sufficient, but I could have saved a LOT of weight by bringing less food. Skip the tarp. If it rains, it rains. No suncreen (I wore long sleeve and a covered my neck by wearing a bandana under my hat.) Much less food. As hungry as you get hiking, the hunger is diminished by the exhaustion. Better shoes. I thought light-weight hiking athletic shoes would be best, but I think more rugged boots may have prevented a blister. And plan for no more than 15 miles in a day. I did 13 each day, and I was beat by the end. If I had taken more rest stops, I could have maybe done 15 miles, but that’s probably it. The only reason that I was able to do 18.8 on my practice hike was that I knew that I had no way of gettnig home from that trail if I couldn’t walk back out. It was truly sink-or-swim (so to speak) and that provided the drive to finish. But it wasn’t fun. I want to be able to spend more time enjoying the hike.

So, the bottom line is that I did not reach my goal, but now I know more than I did before. It does not matter how many hiking books you read, or how many hiking blog-journals that you read. Learning happens best by doing. I have not lost interest in hiking. In fact, I am more interested than ever, because now I know what I didn’t know before. And Wisconsin has many trails all over the state.

But first I need to let my foot heal and get my knee checked out.  So, no big hikes this season. But next year?  Who knows?

I would have rather given a day by day account of a long journey, but this is it. I hope you think reading this was worth your time. The blog will return to its usual food-based topics. I am not sure what I am making for dinner tonight, but if it is worthy, I will post it here.

Oh, and just a quick comparison. When I woke up Thursday morning, I weighed 184.4 pounds. This morning, when I woke, I weight 181.4 pounds.  That was not dehydrated weight, because I drank a lot of water yesterday. But that tells me that when I next go hiking, I will need to eat calorie-dense foods often through the day, and not just plan for large breakfasts and dinners (which are both very heavy.)