So we decided to hike the Lone Star Hiking Trail
My brother in law has asked me to go on a few hiking trips with him last year and most of them I had other things arise or work got in the way. Last year after him and I talked about the AT (Appalachian Trail) doing a few weeks before too long he decided to do the whole thing. So last year from end or march till october we sent him packages, followed his journeys etc till the end.
So a few months ago he talked about doing the LSHT in the Sam Houston National Forest and I finally said lets do it. We talked about doing a 5 day thru hike which would cover the 96 mile trek. I had been stocking up grabbing a new salomon hiking pack, some new skratch lab bottles, a tent etc for the hike.
We had decided to start on Thursday Am and Finish sometime Monday. So my mother in law took us out to the start which was Trailhead #1 Richards.
As we started I knew that I had a lot to learn as I have never hiked with a full pack and I was also interested in how my knee and training would hold up. Since January my running has been minimal and I have chosen to focus on incline hiking and weights as my knee needs surgery and that will happen in September.
So off we started and I soon felt the weight of a 35lb pack. I was very surprised and was soon trying to figure out the straps, positioning and way to make this feel comfortable. Within the first .3 miles i felt something at the back of my knee and it hurt. I leaned back to swat it and the pack came with me so already on my ass and figure out horse files love walking meat.
As my brother in law and I trekked through the first 8 miles before we took a break I was really enjoyed the hike and also realizing that this is nothing like Rocky Raccoon. I think more like a gnarly version in parts of a rain forest and EVERYTHING out there was biting me. If it wasnt horse flies, biting flies, ants it was TICKS… I have heard of ticks and im my day I have seen a few but this WAS CRAZY..
As my brother in law hiked I got a chance to let my mind wonder finally reminded very much of an ultra as I got to just think about life, business and enjoy the quietness of the road. We ended up stopping at mile 8 for a break and i remember eating some nut butter and an EPIC Bar. My sombrero was my shield from the sun and also it was nice to keep over my face so I could get in a nap. As I awoke 15 min I felt refreshed. We headed back out with the intentions of getting to the Stubblefield area which was at 19.7. As you must realize there is NO POTABLE water and no one to save you on this trail. So we randomly filled our water with creek or lake water heading to Lake Conroe. About mile 13 or so I started chafing bad. I had worn by Salomon shorts hoping the longer shorts would suit me better but to no avail.
So i broke out the A&D as I didnt want to get it anywhere than it was. I also broke my Iphone cable that was connected to my solar charger. So the grand thoughts of being on my phone before bed etc and checking in went out the windows as well. From 13-16 i was hurting from the chafing and the mosquitos, gnats, flies and ticks were HUNTING us. It was around 5-6 when we came into the Lake Conroe area. Feeling like rotting meat we came in and both out of water. We got some good ole Conroe water and got hydrated. After sitting for about 30 min we decided to call it a night. I think the total walking with breaks was like 10 hours. I was able to use some lake water and take a soapy lather to get the chafing areas clean. I was fearful of the size of the chafes between the legs because I knew I couldnt hike like this. So i put on my infamous shorty shorts and lathered the A&D on thick.
As soon as I ate a Thunderbird Bar, Avacado and Goldfish I began to feel inflamed a bit. I knew I hadn’t slept good the night before so I went ahead and set up my tent and bedding. So around 7pm I laid in the tent with the open as I talked to David as he read his journal. He read some of what he wrote a year ago that day which was on the AT trail. It was really cool to hear his stories on the AT and learn some of the trail lingo they use. Within minutes I remember David asking me are you awake? I responded yes and then the next thing i remembered was rain on my face. I looked up at God knows when in the am to see rain coming down in my torpedo tent. I quickly moved my things (which i had in a zip lock bag) and then sealed the tent up and pulled the cover over. I didnt get really too wet except for the edge of the bag that was exposed.
But sleeping after that was just this constant turning over and over. Wresting with the sleeping bag, irritated and just restless. As I awoke around 7am i realized that while i slept my bag was open. While my bag was open the mosquitoes needed a place to live. So all of them came into my tent. When i was half way asleep in my tent i sealed the tent.
Like fresh meat in a locker for them. All night long as i tossed, turned and slept they ate. I woke up the next morning to find no less than 100 mosquitoes in my tent all full. While my legs, sides, feet, and every part of my body was ravaged with red marks where I had been eaten. What a way to wake up.
Day2 we wake up and at least the chafing healed up well. I slathered on some A&D and put a fresh pair of injinji socks on. I used trail toes on my feet and also my shoulders and waist area where my pack was. I wore a cotton shirts cause it was HOT as hell and as learned with Pam Smith at WS100 last year it keeps you cool.
3 miles into the day 2 and we were at the campground. A restroom, potable water and we took a little break. There was a momma cat and 3 kittens that heard us and came out to play. It was fun to see kittens digging, climbing trees and wresting around. I knew it was wrong but i gave them some goldfish. Well i “accidentally” dropped some. As we filled our packs I went ahead and filled about 120 oz of water. Per the map we might not have a good source for over 16 miles and I didnt want to be the guy out of water and hiking.
As we started hiking my brother in law and i shared stories of life and made up funny things we would like. Much like an ultra we talked about ice cream, sodas. Every time I saw a Tick i would rhyme it with some obscene work and then pic.. It was funny till i had 5 on me at once. As we trekked through this part we went over some road areas and we laughed and hoped someone would come out and offer us there home. We talked about scenarios that would never happen but sure did seem great. We ended up stopping just at the Y in a whtie rock road and took a break. I think we where at 26.4
My brother in laws feet were bothering him and we were talking about realistically getting into Hunstville State Park for the night. The grand dreams of showers, a vending machine and maybe a shelter sure sounded nice. After our talk I kind of decided to just try and lead us to into the park. So i told David i think we have 4 hours and 20 min left to get us there. Lets hike for 2hr 10 min take a break and then well have it done.
Off we went I was up front this time taking cobwebs and flies on like no tomorrow. We were moving good and I checked my watch a lot for time and also just to know where we were. The trail is marked really well and the mileage was there. We hit a neighborhood with a lake right at 33.2 and met a home owner. He gave us a bottle of water and some advise.
As we hit the spillway it was time for the break actually we did 2 hr 20 min so only 2 hrs left. We both felt good and decided to just hike it in. A few minutes after this the rain came. As the rain came we started down a path that had a creek nearby and it was over flooded recently. The trail was slick and as the rain came so did the increasing weight of us and the packs. My pack felt 2x as heavy and I could feel it start to dig in deep into my shoulders. But we were determined to keep moving. Soon after on the ice like train i slipped and fell. It feels different to fall with a pack on though as a 40lb weight kind of goes where it wants to. I got up a little pissed and ready to get this shit over with honestly. We were closing in on 20 miles and would keep us on track to get this trail done and get me a DAMN DIET COKE and a shower.
The rain didnt stop and neither did we. Around this time i did notice that the strain had my feet feeling sore and the pack was really starting to dig harder. I could hear 1-45 and the cars and I knew the mileage. With 1 mile to go i put my head down and started to count the min at this point with a 40lb pack I was doing all i could in the slick shit to keep it near 20 min miles. Once out of the forest it dumps you right on the feeder. I took off my pack and grabbed some food. My brother in law came out shortly behind me. We spoke and decided to keep pressing on down the feeder road.
Once at the guardrail is when the bolts starting coming off the train. My brother in law was fighting some taint chaffe and some feet blisters bad. He was hobbling at best and we decided to swap our trail shoes for flip flops to dry them out and the shoes. It was getting late now so I made a call to the park to check on campsites. They had water only which was good for us. But the only problem is that it was a few miles away.
After much deliberation the night started to fall and we could not get to the park by the time it closed we decided to call it over. My brother in laws blisters were nasty and the chaffe was causing him not to be able to walk much less hike. So we called in my mother in law who God bless her soul drives to huntsville from cypress at 9pm to pick us up. I kept laughing thinking how cool it is that I am with my brother in law, im 36 years old on the side of a feeder and my wifes kick ass family sees nothing wrong with this at all.
She picks us up and we STINK… I dont mean like ohh you just got out of the gym. Im talking about we hiked for like 22 hours in 2 days with the same clothes on STANK.. My brother in law and I spoke of Whataburger. I thought this was the greatest idea ever. I havent had a real meat hamburger in like 3 years.. Why NOT tonight i think i earned it haha. So down the hatch went a diet coke, fries and a Monterrey Burger with peppers. HOLY CRAP whataburger is good as I took a shower at their home all i felt was pain from the bites. My body was covered in red bites, scratches from thorns, whelps everywhere.
I got home late that night around midnight and got a good nights rest. When I got up in the morning I told the story to my wife and to a few friends etc. I wasnt really disappointing that we didnt do it all. My brother in law enjoys the relaxation of the trail and hiking so he had a great time. I had a good time as well but for a bit of time on the trail I got something i havent had in a while.
I dug maybe like 5% into that old Ultra well. The reason I havent raced anymore this year is honestly I cant run. My knee is tore up to the point where its hard for me to walk some days. Oddly enough it dosent mind me hiking so thats what I do. But this hiking dosent really hurt it much and it was fun to feel the physicality that comes with sweating, grinding and working for something.
But I learned with Mt Elbert a few weeks ago that I am a hiker right now. Im not a runner. I am really good at hiking as this has been what I have done for the last 6 months. So hiking this really made my might start to wonder. Being out there let my mind escape like an ultra would and it made me at times dig into that competitive well just a tad bit. I think Rob you just climbed Mt ELbert, you ran Ragnar which i thought i would do horrible at but it was on mountains so i did well.
I owe the LSHT a fight. I wasn’t pissed that we didnt finish. It just rubbed me the wrong way that I came home with all these fked up bites and crap and I didnt feel satisfied. Thats the word is that I hadnt had enough yet to quit.
So I want to go at the LSHT one on one. No support. No big pack on my back to slow me down. Just a Ultimate Direction fast pack, food, water and a map. Ill need to pack on water at times cause its 20 miles between streams but I want to try and hit it all. 96 miles, unsupported effort and just me. The date is set Tuesday July 22nd. I want it as HOT as Hell. The goal sub 30 unsupported start at 1 finish at 96.
I finally feel confident in my abilities again. Not being able to “run” really fked my head up and only after DNF’s, pain and finally submitting the truth am I able to see the light in this. I dont have to “run” to be successful in athletics. Right now I need to be great at “hiking” since that is what I can and have trained to do.
I will spend the next month cross training, hiking with a weighted pack and also continuing to work on hip/glute strength. I have added in yoga 2x a week and also have been dropping weight as well to further my progress as I am still chasing 173 lbs as my goal for this year.
I enjoyed the trail immensely and spending time with my brother law under the sun with my sombrero on was truly a blessing. It taught me many lessons on how to hike, camp and what not to do. But it taught me a valuable lesson in life.
Love where you are at not where you were.