Day 1 - 52 miles, 19 hours hiking
Day 2 - 75 miles, 30 hours hiking
Started 4:55am 8/18 at Norbeck. In the first few hours we saw buffalo, deer, turkeys and a coyote. Wind Cave was a beautiful place to start. Black Elk Wilderness was a fun but technical section. We finished the day at midnight just north of Sheridan Lake with 52 miles done in 19 hours.
Broke camp at 530am with very sore feet. The motorized section was rocky technical road that challenged us with pain management. It was very hot and we were cameling water at every source and carrying 2-2.5 liters each. Near Dalton lake it started to get dark and we went headlamp hiking. Lightning was in the sky, but luckily we had little rain. Bugs around our head were a source of companionship as we trekked through the night. Around 4am we both started getting sleepy, and had a nice visit from a rattlesnake on the trail. That seemed to wake us up and with the help of some music we saw the sunrise just south of Alkali Horse Camp. Spent a few minutes there to regroup and snack before heading on.
That was our first glimpse of Bear Butte which was energizing. We were about 60 miles in for the day so far. The maps on trailheads put Bear Butte 12.5 miles away, but other FKTs showed the finished closer to 18 miles. After hiking some time and Bear Butte not looking any closer, the 18 miles seemed depressingly more accurate.
Hiking through some cow pastures we finally hit Bear Butte Lake where we were desperate for water. We skipped Bear Butte Creek to keep pace, but it was turning into a scorching day. With Sunscreen buried in the bottom of the backpack, we suffered without it with the only goal to finish. Hiking up to Bear Butte was exhausting, but stepping foot on it gave a final burst of energy to get up that mountain.
We finished at 11:29am on 8/20. We did 75 miles over 30 straight hours for our second day. This was the first time we could relax. Everything hurt and everything felt great. Coming down Bear Butte took over an a hour, given how painfully sensitive the bottom of our feet were. Dairy Queen and lawn naps were our victory prize.
Coming off the Colorado Trail a week prior we had our trail legs and wanted to try out fastpacking. The Centennial Trail FKT was a new type of challenge, and a fun shorter thru hike.