Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Live, From Manchester Center, VT

I am currently at the hostel in Manchester Center, Vermont. It is really nice here, quiet and clean. And it comes with a free pint of Ben & Jerry's. I will be here tonight, and then get back on the trail tomorrow. I have four days of food which will get me into Massachusetts, about 60 miles south of here.
Also it looks like there was some error when I set up the posts, and one of the days is out of order. Nothing I can do about it now.

Happy Trails!

Day 34, 7-22

--> Hexacuba Shelter, 15.7 miles

There was quite a party last night. A few people walked in a cooler with beer and vodka. I went to bed way past hiker midnight, probably not until 10. Sadly I still woke up early. It was an easy mile to the post office and I got my package. I then went across the street to the hostel where I took a shower and did laundry. Thus cleaned, I lounged around all morning. I had some frozen pizzas and an ice cream bar for lunch, then headed out at noon to do the remaining 14.8 miles. The first ten were easy. It is amazing how few rocks there are on the treadway. The climb up Mt. Cube was tough because there were so many false summits. The clouds were fairly low so there was no view.

This shelter is neat- it is hexagonal. The front two walls are missing so you can get in and out. The water is .3 downhill on the AT, but there was a sign so I got some before heading up. My Aquamira drops are nearly empty, I really hope the last to Hanover. Only two others here tonight so I sholud be able to go to bed early and catch up on some sleep. I'm doing a 12 mile day tomorrow, and the NOBOs say there is a guy who gives out ice cream. I'm excited. Still a day behind the SOBO group, I'll catch them sooner or later. 

Day 36, 7-24

--> Velvet Rocks Shelter, 15.2 miles

I definitely didn't bring enough food on this section. It's a bit after three and I'm exhausted. There was only a climb up Moose Mountain this morning, the rest was down or flat. On the way down Moose Mountain the sky got very dark, but it blew over and didn't rain. It is very nice out right now, perfect weather to be outside in.

There is a father and son here on an overnight hike. The dad thrued a few year ago. They have a radio playing which is kind of annoying. He did share some snacks and candy with me later, so I won't complain.
Tomorrow is Hanover. It is .8 downhill to the Coop, so there is no rush in the morning because it doesn't open until 8. There are also a few place where I can get free food in town.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 35, 7-23

--> Trapper John Shelter, 12 miles

It started raining some time last night, and has been raining all day. I don't think my hands have ever been this pruny for this long. On the plus side, though, the wetness of my boots and socks has cleaned a lot of the dirt out of my toenails.

It was an easy walk to the fire warden's cabin on top of Smarts Moutain. I stopped there for a stack and to warm up and dry out a bit. I was warm without a raincoat going up but I don't generate as much body heat on the downs. On the way down was a section on Lamberts Ridge. There were a lot of blueberries growing on the side of the trail, so that section took a bit longer than normal. At the bottom is the home of Bill Ackerly, the Ice Cream Man. In return for signing his log he gives out free ice creams. I had one and chatted with him for a while. He said I was the 320th hiker (north, south, and section) to stop in this year. Since I'm so low on aquamira I filled up all of my bottles to bring to the shelter. Thu pack was a lot heavier with 5 quarts of water, and a can of coke. Thankfully the shelter was only .8 uphill.

It looks like this was the site of a cabin- in front of the shelter is the old chimney. The sun did come out after a while, and it has been a pleasant afternoon. Two NOBO section hikers, a mother and son, and Warbler are here now. At least the shelter isn't too crowded. I hear there are good views on the ledges so hopefully there will be some sun tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 33, 7-21

-->  Jeffers Brook Shelter, 20 miles

What a great day. I woke up early and got up to the summit of North Kinsman pretty early. The sun was still rising. I went over to South Kinsman and the view was even better. I stayed for a few minutes then started down. It was a slog to Kinsman Notch. There was an OK view from Mt. Wolf, I could see the south end of Franconia Ridge. Close to the road a NOBO told me there was trail magic at the read. I picked up the pace and got the the road and found the food. There was coke and lots of cookies. I had a bunch, then used the privy at the parking lot. As I was about to leave another woman came with a cooler with beer and oreos. I had a beer and some more oreos, then had to sit for a while to let everything digest.

I left the lot at 1, and got to the Beaver Brook shelter at 2. Everyone coming down said there were great views from the top, so I ditched my plans and headed up. One of the great parts of traveling solo. It was a quick 40 minutes to the top. Overall it took me 2 hours to go from parking lot to summit.

The top was incredible. It was clear, not hazy at all, and there was a nice breeze. All of the peakes were out. It was one of those once in a lifetime type days. I spent an hour at the top soaking in the view. On the way down I ran into the trail maintainer who was building scree walls. We talked for a few minutes, then I went on. I took the side trail to the South Peak, and the view was also good. The descent was not bad.

There are a lot of NOBOs here. It looks like it will be a real party tonight. They seem nice, and are fun to talk to.

Day 32, 7-20

--> Kinsman Pond Shelter, 11.2 miles

I woke up at the usual thru-hiker time of 5:15 and lay there for a while. When the three NOBOs began to pack up I did too. The wait for breakfast wasn't as bad as yesterday. There were blueberry pancakes. The climb up Lafayette was pretty quick and I beat most of the paying guests, who had a 30-45 minute head start, to the top. There were some dramatic views with storm clouds rolling in form the west. I took my time up on the ridge, but kept moving because rain was threatening the whole time. In the end it was only a few sprinkles. I said hi to Cam at Liberty Springs on the way down.

I thought about going to the Flume visitor center to get some lunch, but I didn't want to walk the extra mile there and back. I took my time up the Cascade Brook Trail. There were lots of signs warning of a washed out bridge, but the ford was easier than some in Maine. I got the Lonesome Lake at 4, right as it started to downpour. It was too early for a WFS, but I got a conciliatory piece of bread. Mark was there and I said bye, since it is unlikely we'll run into each other again. It was a quick (50 min) 1.9 mile hike up the Fishin' Jimmy Trail to the shelter here.

The shelter is quite new, and dark inside. They should have added some skylights. The weather report is calling for severe thunderstorms this evening/tonight, so I'm glad I'm inside. It will also make tomorrow and easier day. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 31, 7-19

--> Greenleaf Hut, 13.4 miles

I woke up at 5:15 and packed up. Then I waited. They woke the guests up at 6:30, and by 8 we thru hikers finally got breakfast. The spinach from last night was in the quiche this morning. It was good. After breakfast I ran over to Galehead hut. It took me 3.25 hours to go the seven miles. Probably the fastest I'll ever do it. There were some leftovers there that the croo let me eat. Much better than my sandwich.

The next 6.4 miles were a slog. It was very steep uf Garfield, and the trail up was a stream. The view from the top, hdowever, was incredible. After a steep descent, there was a long climb up Lafayette. It was 3:30 when I got to the summit, so I headed down to try to get my WFS. I got the fourth one, which was lucky. I scraped the ice out of their fridge. Dinner here wasn't as good as at Zealand. There was less food, and it wasn't as tasty. If some late people don't show up then they'll give us more leftovers.

Tomorrow I plan to go to Lonesome Lake, and try for one last WFS. I hear the weather won't be very good. Maybe the cold front will hold off until I've gotten off the ridge.

Day 30, 7-18

--> Zealand Hut, 14.3 miles

I got a bit damp in the thunderstorm last night. The rain was fine, but the wind blew some rain onty my head. I need to find a better storm pitch for the tarp. Other than that, it was a nice night. I wake up early and left at 6:15. My original plan was to tray and get to Galehead, but halfway down the Webster Cliff Trail I realized that that would be too far, and Zealand would be a better destination.

I got to Ethan Pond Shelter and took a long lunch. There was an AMC magazine which I read through to kill some time. When I got bored there I walked as slowly as I could to Thoreau Falls which are just off the trail. I spent a long time there, and read a bit of my book. When it got to hot and loud I went to the junction with the Zeacliff Trail. At 3:45 I left and went to the hut. I got a WFS. Thank goodness. I helped set the table and clean out the freezer. I ate so much food, it was great.

The bad part about the WFS is waiting for normal people bedtime. 8:30 is a good time to go to sleep for me. Breakfast will be good tomorrow. My plan is to get a WFS at Greenleaf tomorrow. I've been hiking at the same rate as a section hiker Mark. He's worried that he won't be able to get there for dinner, but I think he'll make it without any problem.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 29, 7-17

--> Nauman Tentsite, 14.9 miles

The climb up Madison was not as steep as I thought it would be. It took me two hours to get to the summit. On my way down I passed a lot of people going up, so I knew breakfast was done at the hut. I went in to try and get some leftovers, but the crew said there weren't any. I guess all the oatmeal I saw on the counter was for the compost. Thus refueled, I ran to Edmands Col. The Gulfside Trail is very well graded and I made great time to the summit of Mt. Washington. I got a picture then went inside to have some lunch. I really wanted to get a burger but the cantina on top didn't sell them. I settled for my own peanut butter and honey.

When I got to Lakes of the Clouds Hut it was sunny again. Since it was only 12:30 I chose to push on to Mizpah. I walked too fast and got there at 3:00. I asked for a WFS, but the croo member said it was too early. Thus I am here at the tentsite. Tomorrow I'll probably try again at Galehead. But this time I'll hang out on top of South Twin until 4 or 4:30, so it will be too late to push on anywhere else.

I tried calling Nicole to wish her a happy birthday from the top of Washington, but there wasn't enough signal. From the side of Eisenhower, however, the call went through but she didn't pick up. I wonder why the service was better farther away from the towers. There's no service here either. Oh well, can't say I didn't try.

The caretaker came around, and I managed to get a WFS after all. I picked up all of the little bits of trash from around the tent platforms. It's surprising how dirty some were and how clean others. In the end this WFS was probably easier than washing all the dishes at Mizpah.

Day 28, 7-16

--> Osgood Tentsite, 10.9 miles

I got up at 6:30, the normal hut wakeup time. I packed up, had a bagel, and was on my way as the crew was picking up the oatmeal bowls. The climb up Wildcat was steep and short. I stopped at the view point to eat an apple. My pack felt sooo much lighter after that. The tower on D peak was really nice- it was being rebuilt last time I was there. I stopped for a while and enjoyed great views of the northern Presidentials. I thought about going people watching at the gondola, but there were no people to watch. On the way down I passed the talkative Lady from the hostel. She had sent her pack up the gondola and was just walking up.

There were a lot of camp group down in the notch. The leader of one group I passed was explaining how the trail they were on was part of the AT, and that some people hike it all in one season. One kid in the group just didn't believe him, and I laughed after I went by. The hiker room at the visitors center was nice and coll. I ate lunch and sat around for a while in there. I then had to go back out into the humidity and do the last five miles to the site here. It seems pretty nice, and I managed to get my tarp up on a platform using a combination of stakes, rocks, a tree, and an eye hook I found and screwed into the platform.

The weather report in Pinkham Notch said that it will be windy on the summits tomorrow. Hopefully it will also be clear. My goal is a WFS at Lakes. I didn't see many NOBOs today so I think the bubble is still south of the Whites.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 27, 7-15

--> Carter Notch Hut, 15 miles

The breakfast this morning was just as good as it was yesterday. I managed to fit everything in my pack, and set off at 7:45. It was pretty flat for the first few miles, then a climb up Moriah. There was a great view from the top. It feels like I am home hiking in these hills. I went down to Imp Campsite to refill my water, then climbed up North Carter. It was steeper than I thought it would be. Between North and Middle Carder I ran into the Thyngs and Swansons. They say I've turned into a minor celebrity in Hollis.

The rest of the day was nice. The summit of Mt. Hight was nice, and had a better view than Carter Dome. I got a work for stay at the hut. I got to wash all of the dishes. I don't know how the croo at Lakes does it. It was a task to do it for only 20 guests. The good part was all of the food there was for dinner. My food bag is not any lighter but my stomach is happy. The hut is only half full so the croo let me sleep in a real bunk. I hope the rest of the crews are this nice. It's almost lights out, so I'm going to brush my teeth and go to bed.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 26, 7-14

@White Mountains Lodge and Hostel,  0 miles

Today was very relaxing. I had scrambled eggs, hash browns, and a muffin for breakfast. On of my pairs of socks has a hole under the ball of each foot, so I got a ride into town to get a new pair. The hardware store/outfitter only had Darn Tough, so I got a pair. It says that they will replace the socks if they get a hole. Sounds like a challenge to me. The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent watching Planet Earth and reading. My legs and knees were grateful for the rest. John from Alabama arrived this afternoon. He said the SOBO bubble is another day behind him. I guess I am really hiking fast. It sure doesn't feel fast.

There was a WalMart run this evening and I got a watch and a few other things I needed. I got an eggplant parmesan from Mr Pizza for dinner. It was pretty good. I think everything will fit in my bag, but it will be tight until I eat some food. Climbing Moriah tomorrow morning will be tough with all the extra stuff. It's 9:30 and past my bed time, so I'm going to go shower then sleep. Want an early start to avoid the heat of the day.

Goodbye New Hampshire

I walked into Hanover, NH this morning. Right now I'm using a computer at the Dartmouth Outing Club building. This afternoon I will cross the Connecticut River and enter Vermont, the third state. Yesterday I passed the 20% mark of the trail. Fewer than 1800 miles to go!

Day 25, 7-13

--> Route 2, Gorham,  11.8 miles

It's a nice day to be sitting around Gorham. The trail in was not hard, the ascents weren't too long, and the downs weren't too steep. There were clouds in the valleys, but the mountains were clear and there were great views along the way. I stepped at the summit of Mt. Hayes for a stack. There were a bunch of Blueberries, but they weren't ripe yet. Too bad, they would have been really good. On the way dow I passed a lot of NOBOs and day hikers. This means I'll enter the Whites on Monday, so there'll be fewer people which will be nice.

Moldy Bear is here and about to head out. Another SOBO. Up and Polechar and Patches are here and staying the night. I wonder if the group I left at Rangeley will catch up tomorrow. I'm going into town later to get some pizza and beer, then a shuttle to WalMart to resupply.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 24, 7-12

--> Gentian Pond Shelter,  14.7 miles

I was the first one out, leaving as the sun was just coming over Old Speck. It was a cold night and cool morning, but I warmed up quickly. The descent down the Mahoosuc Arm was long but not as hard as the NOBOs made it sound. The notch was interesting. I was expecting caves, like those on Morgan and Percival, but it was mostly just big rocks. I had to take my pack off three or four times and pull it through after me. There was also a lot of snow and ice down there. As I started to climb up, my glasses fogged because the air above the notch was so much warmer.

From the Full Goose Shelter to the Carlo Col Shelter was above the trees for a while. It was beautiful. That stretch (Goose Eye Mountain) is somewhere I'd like to go back to. I crossed the ME-NH line and took some pictures and a break. Polechar was there so I got to talk to him for a little while. AT the end of the day Mt. Success was a drag. My right heel was hurting and it was just a long five miles. I made it, and this shelter has an awesome view out the front. It also has 2 levels, another first for the shelters. A deaf couple is here this evening. A NOBO, Manchild, is here, as well as Up, Patches, and Polechar. Tomorrow is an "easy" 11.8 miles to Gorham. I'm ready for a shower and some clean clothes. And lots of real town food. I also need a new book.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 23, 7-11

--> Speck Pond Shelter, 10.4 miles

It rained pretty hard last night, but it stopped by the time I woke up. I packed up, and got pretty wet brushing against everything on the way up Baldplate. There was a view from the top, which was exciting. Everyone who went up yesterday said it was miserable. As I was leaving it started to cloud over. It was very slippery on the way down. I fell, and it took a moment to find somewhere with enough friction to stand up again. After the slippery section it was quick down to Grafton Notch.The climb up Old Speck was long but not hard. I took the side trail .3 to the summit, but there was no view from the tower. From there to the shelter was a long mile down more slippery rocks.

Speck Pond is really nice. The shelter isn't that great. The caretaker Cam is pretty cool. Apparently he usually works at Liberty Springs, but is covering for a friend. That means I'll probably get to see him again. He says that the caretakers have stolen the canoe from Lonesome Lake, but wouldn't tell me where it was. Maybe when I pass by Liberty Spring. It seems like a nice group at the shelter this evening.

Tomorrow morning is Mahoosuc Notch. I'm hoping for good weather, or at least not rain. If I'm feeling good afterwards I'll do 15 miles tomorrow, which will put me 12 miles from Gorham. The sun is going down and its getting cold, so I'm going to crawl into my bag for some sleep.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 22, 7-10

--> Frye Notch Leanto, 10.5 miles

Lang Gone and NBC got up early, and when they started moving around it woke me up. I was on the trail around 6 this morning. It was an easy descent to the pond, then to the road where Mapless and Woody were waiting for the shuttle into Andover. When they got picked up I headed back into the woods for the remaining 4.5 miles to the shelter. Dr. Scholls and Chaco were there and I finally got to meet them. Up showed up shortly after they pushed on, along with Polechar. This shelter is in a neat location, sort of a bowl. There is a river running in front, just out of sight. No one else is here right now. I'm guessing that a few NOBOs will spend the night here. I think I am a full day ahead of that SOBO bubble I was with over Saddleback, so they'll probably catch up while I'm zeroing in Gorham. All of the NOBOs recommended staying at the White Mountains Lodge, so I'll probably stay there. I'm looking forward to entering my second state. It feels like I am no longer a newbie hiker, I am truly a thru hiker. It's also hard to believe I've walke 260 miles in just 22 days. If my math is correct that is 11.8 miles a day.

Hello from Glencliff

I'm taking a break at the Hikers Welcome Hostel in Glencliff, NH. I have just left the whites. It was a nice section, and I really lucked out weather-wise. When I got to the top of Mt. Moriah (the first peak in the Whites), I got that warm feeling you get when you have returned home after a long time away. It also seems that the Whites are nicely book-ended; getting to Gorham requires a road walk, leaving Moosilauke is on a roadwalk. The first and last mountains are both 4000 footers with great views. In my case I had great weather and views on both.

My plan right now is to hang out here for the rest of the morning, then head out for a few miles. I should be in Hanover in 3 days.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 21, 7-9

--> Hall Mountain Lean-to,  16.4 miles

What a tough day. I woke up early and climbed up to the Bemis Mountain Shelter. I got there at 8. Mapless, Woody, and Chefbeard were still there taking a lazy morning. The climb up Bemis Mountain wasn't bad, but it was very fogy with no views. On m way up Old Blue Mountain I met Chef and at the top Windsock. Windsock is a teacher and is just section hiking to Gorham. The descent down Old Blue was steep. I thought I was near the road when it flattened out a bit, but it got even steeper after that part. At the read someone had left cans of Coke. It was the best room-temperature Coke I've ever had.

The climb up Moody Mountain was fairly quick. Then came Sawyer Notch. It was very steep. There was a lot of mud and rebar on the way down. Knee-shattering to put it mildly. I stopped at the bottom to refill my water and have a stack before going up the other side of the V. It was a long climb, but less steep than the way down. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a leanto. Bothe my knees are pretty sore, so I plan to take an easy day tomorrow to let them rest.

It looks like in three days I'll go through Mahoosuc Notch. This is the hardest (or most fun) mile on the AT. I hear the descend down the arm is rough, but I don't think it could be worse than what I did today. I'm only 30 miles from the NH border, and will probably cross the day after the notch. That will be exciting to get to my second state and to go through the Whites.

I like the 2 NOBOs that are here this evening. They aren't talking loudly and constantly. I'll probably be able to go to sleep early  without listening to people talking all night. If only all NOBOs were like this.

Day 20, 7-8

--> Campsite near Bemis Stream,  15.9 miles

It was raining when I woke up. Naturally I was the first one awake, and the first to pack up and go. The hitch into Rangeley was super easy. The first car that came after I stuck out my thumb picked me up and brought me to the grocery store. I got enough food to get me to Gorham. I then walked into town to try and use the library computer, but of course the library is closed on Mondays. I then went to the diner for a second breakfast. It was pretty good.

A couple from New Hampshire offered me a ride back to the trail, which I accepted. They said they had thru hiked a few years back, and were hiking the VT-NH-ME section until bad blisters forced them off the trail. Now they're just doing shorter hikes and picking up their mail drops. The trail to Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to wasn't bad. There were a bunch of teenage French-Canadian girls there so I decided to push on. The other SOBO guys will probably be there tonight as well. I think I hate people while out here on the trail. The NOBOs last night were amusing, but there went to bed later than I would have liked. The shelters are convenient, but you have to deal with people while at them.

The campsite I'm at now is nice. It's near  a road, but only  a couple of cars have gone by. It is also sunny now, so maybe everything will dry out some. I hope it doesn't rain tonight, packing up wet stuff is no fun. The weather on the TV in Rangeley said it should be nice the next few days. It also said there was a tropical storm going to hit Florida on Friday, so next weekend might be rainy. Hopefully I'll be able to take a zero in Gorham then.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 19, 7-7

--> Piazza Rock Lean-to,  8.9 miles

I was the first one out of the shelter this morning. The climb up Saddleback Jr. was less bad than I thought it would be. I stopped for a minute, then cruised up the Horn. I was going to stop an the top, but it was too windy to stay long. In the shelter of some trees I had a granola bar. I then powered up Saddleback. The summit was really nice, but very windy. I stayed up there for about an hour and ate most of my M&Ms. When I got cold I went down to the shelter. Blue Sky is here, and 2 NOBO section hikers. The others will probably get here eventually.

The other SOBOs showed up, and 3 NOBOs. The NOBOs are entertaining to listen to. I wonder if I'll sound like them when I get down south. Tomorrow I'm heading into Rangeley to get some more food and some lunch, then back to the trail for a few more miles. Maybe even to the shelter. Hopefully it won't rain too much, hitching is nicer when its not raining.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 18, 7-6

--> Poplar Ridge Lean-to,  8 miles

I woke up and was the first one out this morning. Blue Sky and Shutterbug had said Mt. Abraham was nice and had good views, so I decided to go the extra 3.4 miles (1.7 each way) to the top. It's also a Maine 4000 footer. That's number 7 so far this trip. When I got to the summit, however, it was socked in and very windy. I sat behind a small stone wall and had a granola bar, then headed back to the AT. Even with eth extra excursion I was still the first one to the shelter. From the shelter it was flat then down to a river, which I had to ford. It was then an extremely steep climb to Poplar Ridge. The shelter here has a baseball bat floor. There is also an information packet left by the maintainer. It was an interesting and informative read. Apparently he has been maintaining this section/shelter since 1956, and helped reroute the trail in the 70's and 80's.

A group of teenage girls just showed up, so the quiet is gone. The NOBO section hiker said they are well behaved. They just walked by, and all had matching bright orange rain covers. It was fun to watch. Tomorrow I'm doing 9 miles over Saddleback and the Horn. It will then be quick to get to the road to resupply and get lunch in Rangeley. Hopefully the library will be open so I can add more Journal entries to the blog.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 17, 7-5

--> Spaulding Mountain Lean-to,  13.5 miles

I woke up early and lay in bed for a while. I finally decided to get up and bring by stuff downstairs to cram it back in my bag. I was ready to go at 7, but I couldn't get a hitch to the trailhead. I sat around the hostel until 8, then was able to get a ride there. I was on the trail by 8:15. It was a long but not bad climb up to North Crocker. I took a picture then headed to South Crocker, which has a view, to take a break. Sitting there eating my delicious peanut butter and honey sandwich I decided to push to the shelter.

It was very steep down to the Carrabasset River. Lucky for e the water was low enough I didn't need to get my boots wet. It was then an extremely steep climb up Sugarloaf. The trail doesn't go over the summit, but there is a nice ridgewalk along the back. I passed the 200 mile mark at a plaque that commemorates the completion of the trail. back in the 1930's. From there it was a quick up to Spaulding Mountain, then about a mile down to the shelter here. Shutterbug, Blue Sky, and a section hiker Pundit were here already. Its strange not being the first one to the shelter and getting my pick of spots. I don't think that the others that were in Stratton yesterday will get here.

I did the math, and I climbed 5000 vertical feet in 13.5 miles. This felt like the hardest day. It took me 8 hours to do all this. My feet hurt. There is a fire going, but the wind is blowing the smoke the wrong way to keep the bugs away.

It's a bit later, and it is a party here. A guy, Lost, with the Wounded Warriors and another guy showed up. Then a bunch of the Stratton people arrived, and then Bartender. Lost is a character.

Day 16, 7-4

--> ME 27 (Stratton), 10.4 miles

I woke up very early, as it was just getting light. I went to pee and crawled back in my bag. After a while I decided to get up and get going. My shadow was very long as I climbed up Avery Peak. I didn't realize it was named after Myron Avery who was one of the driving forces behind the trail. When I got to the top the sun was trying to peek through, but there were too many clouds. I climbed down to the col, then back up to West Peak. Still no view. It was quite windy at the summit- not enough to blow me over but close.

This was followed by a nice ridgewalk, in the trees, to the Horn. Still no view, but there were a bunch of trees so a view was less likely. The descent to Horns Pond was very steep, but the campsite was really nice. I should have stayed there. There was then a long, steep down to the road.

I walked about a half mile down the road and started to try to hitch. A car from Maryland went by, then a minute later I saw it going the other way. It turned around and a lady offered me a ride. She said she stopped because she had run over some animal earlier, and felt bad. It turns out she was on her way to Now Brunswick and Quebec to visit family. She let me off at the gas station and I walked  over to the Stratton Motel. I have a bunk, and did a resupply across the street. I'm thinking I'll get a pizza and some beer for dinner. I also still need to take a shower. It's five bucks to do laundry, so I'll pass on that. Once the owner goes home I can use the computer to update the blog. I don't want people to think I'm dead.

For lunch I downed a pint of Ben & Jerry's. I've never eaten so much ice cream so fast. It took me about 15 minutes to finish it, and now 2 hours later I'm getting hungry again. Hiker Hunger is here in full force. I think I'm going to start eating 2 sandwiches during the day, and try to have a bigger breakfast. Maybe I should bring and drink more alcohol. The TV/VCR is broken, and despite my EE degree I couldn't fix it. Not that I really wanted to watch any movies.

There are a lot of people here today who are all planning to get back on the trail tomorrow morning. I'll have to wake up early or hike fast if I want a spot at the shelter. Last night the 5 people didn't show up to the campsite. My guess is they got sidetracked swimming in "The Tubs" at Little Bigelow Shelter. Now I'm probably a full day ahead of them.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 15, 7-3

--> Safford Notch Campsite,  12.6 miles

I woke up, and not surprisingly, was the first one out this morning. I think I need to do something better for breakfast, because a bagel or a package of poptarts does not keep me full for long.

The first 5 miles where pretty easy, just a few small bumps. After a very short roadwalk, I started climbing in the Bigelows. It was steeper, but not too bad to Little Bigelow Leanto. I stopped there to refill my water and have a stack. Thus fueled I basically ran up to the summit of Little Bigelow, passing a few people on the way. I mis-remembered the guide, and thought I had to go to the end of the ridge to get to the summit, but it was actually half way across. So I missed the summit of Little Bigelow. I did, however, stay for quite a while at the viewpoint where I thought the summit was. There was an awesome view of what I get to climb tomorrow. It was a quick descent to this notch where I am set up for the night. I'm expecting Richard, Bartender, Goatman, Jubilee, and Phoenix to get here eventually. They all were at the shelter last night, but arrived after I had finished writing- the problem with doing this in the middle of the day. It was fun to finally meet some new SOBOs. Bartender had a ukulele and was showing me how to play it. I think I should get a guitar and learn to play it when I get off the trail. It seems like it would be a good skill to have, though I don't know where I would ever need to use it.

The sun can't decide if it wants to stay out. I hope it does so my socks will dry. All of my toes suddenly became hot spots today while I was on the side trail to the campsite here. I washed my feet in the stream. (It was a little overdue)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 14, 7-2

--> West Carry Pond Lean-to,  19.7 miles

I woke up early and it was raining. It continued raining while I packed up and hit the trail. It rained the six miles downhill to Caratunk and the ferry across the Kennebec River. I woke up too early, because I had to wait for the ferryman to arrive. He showed up about 45 minutes later, at 9, and after signing a release form I was quickly across. There is a very strong current across the river, and the canoe was pointed upstream most of the time. On the other side was a NOBO who videoed the landing. It was a quick four miles to the next leanto where I stopped for a snack and to refill my water. I was feeling good so I decided to push to here, 10 miles further. It was pretty flat most of the may, with no steep ups or downs. If this is what the trail is like down south, I will be flying when I get there.

So far today I've seen three people- 2 NOBOs and the ferryman. It looks like I'm going to have the shelter to myself again. This is a big, nice, shelter, so I'm not complaining. Today was a big mile day. My legs feel pretty good, but my feet hurt. They should toughen up, or this will be a long trip to Georgia. I keep hearing clunks that sound like heavy footsteps, but there is no one else here. If I was superstitious I might think this place is haunted. My dinner is just about ready, so I'm going to go eat it while it's warm.

Day 13, 7-1

--> Pleasant Pond Lean-to, 13.1 miles

It rained pretty hard last night, so the lady in the tent got a little wet. She came over to the leanto to pack up her stuff, and said she was going to Monson to dry out. I left around 6 and made it to the top of Moxie Bald in about an hour. It was sunny and there was a view. My left heel then started to hurt which made the next 11 miles very painful. I hope that whatever is wrong fixes itself quickly, or I will be slowed down or in pain a lot for the next 2000 miles. The ford today was only waist deep. I had an audience while crossing- someone wanted to see what they were in for. I made it across without falling or making a fool of myself.

The climb up Pleasant Pond Mountain wasn't bad, but there were a few false summits before I got to the real one. I had very good reception on top, so I called home. They're leaving for Spain tomorrow, so I'm glad I got a chance to say hi. There was a steep but not too long descent down to the shelter.

Its kind of trashy here, but the mosquitos are easier than normal to kill. There's a NOBO staying here who is terrified of bugs. He said that rather than opening his tent while there were mosquitos around, he turned one of his bottles into a pee bottle. A bee flew near him and he freaked out like an elementary schooler. But he shared some candy with me so its all good. If nobody else shows up I'll get the shelter to mylesf tonight, which would be nice. Tomorrow morning I have six downhill miles to the ferry, which I have to get to by 11 am. If I don't sleep in it won't be a problem.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 12, 6-30

--> Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-to, 17.9 trail miles

I woke up and took a shower before breakfast. Today they served blueberry pancakes, and I got another three. I paid, and then got a ride back to the trailhead on ME 15. The walk to the east branch of the Piscataquis River was nice. However, the river was still very high so I had to do the road walk around. This added about three miles to my day, so today was 21 miles total. That is a lot of miles and my feet hurt. The roadwalk was long and boring, though one guy did tell me when I was close to the trail. He offered to let me ride on his tailgate, but I guess I am enough of a purist to walk. A white van with a trailer passed me twice. The second time they asked me if I had seen a bunch of French-Canadian guys. I told them I hadn't, and they kept driving. About a mile down the road I ran into said group, and told them their van was going the other way looking for them. They weren't too happy to hear that. The trail was still a river, and there was one stream that was high with a rather strong current, but I made it across safely. Here at the shelter there is a female section hiker who started at Pinkham Notch, and another guy doing Caratunk to Katahdin. He put his radio on briefly, but thankfully reception was bad and he turned it off. It's amazing how quickly I've come to appreciate the quiet out here. I still like seeing people, but they should be quiet people while on the trail.

Last night at Shaw's I played a game of Euchre with Forever Sunshine, Heather, and Conner. Forever Sunshine and I won. Andrew and Christine, you guys taught me well. The shelter here is kind of buggy, but a few sprays of DEET seem to be keeping the bugs away. Hopefully it will be clear tomorrow so there will be a view from Moxie Bald Mountain. I'm tired of summiting and only seeing clouds.

Day 11, 6-29

@ Shaw's,  0 miles

Took a zero today. I got up around 6:30 after staying in the bunkroom. Luckily there were no snorers. I ordered a 3 at breakfast-- 3 pieces of French toast, 3 scrambled eggs, and home fries. It was big and very tasty. Mostly I've been sitting around today and letting my legs relax. I walked over to the gas station/ convenience store where I got dinner last night to pick up a few things that weren't in my box.

We played a few rounds of Scattergories this afternoon. I'm still feeling full from breakfast, so I don't know what I'll do about dinner. At home I just wouldn't eat it, but the scale here says I lost 5 pounds in the wilderness. Too many more and I'll be thinner than a pancake. Most of the other hikers hit the trail this morning, so its been quiet here.

Apparently the Piscataquis River is running at 1600 cubic feet per second (normally 100), and is 3 feet higher than normal. One of the owners told us about a roadwalk to avoid fording it. With all of the rain we've gotten today, I think I'll have to take it for safety. Someone said that this has been one of the rainiest Junes on record in Maine. It has certainly felt like that out on the trail.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 10, 6-28

--> ME 15 (south end of 100-mile wilderness)  10.x miles

I'm warm and dry at Shaw's right now. It was a very wet hike over however. I woke up to rain hitting the roof of the shelter, and it rained pretty much all day. After a few miles and the first ford I just gave up trying to stay dry. The trail turned into a stream/giant puddle, and I would still be out there if I had tried to stay dry. I passed someone heading north who looked a lot like Mike Lero. When I got to the road I decided I was too wed and cold to stand and wait for a hitch, so I started walking. I stuck my thumb out a few times, but the cars kept zooming past. One masshole gave me a thumbs up back. After about a mile, and after I stopped trying to hitch, a pickup pulled over, and the driver offered me a ride. He dropped me at Shaw's, and I took the greatest shower ever. I'm warm and dry, and my clothes are in the washer. I have on my rain pants and a loaner shirt.

I'm hoping this rain will let up after tomorrow, or at least changes to (infrequent) scattered showers. We'll see. I'm going to zero here tomorrow to let my legs and knees rest. Sam gave me his email and asked me to let him know when I finish. I can't decide whether it's too early to call home. Quarter past two on a Friday, I have no idea what's going on there.

Day 9, 6-27

--> Wilson Valley Lean-to, 15.6 miles

Dennis showed up to the shelter last night, so there were three of us, but it still was not crowded at all. Woke up early this morning and couldn't tell if it was raining or the trees were all dripping. It was the trees. It might as well have been raining, though, with all of the water that dripped and rubbed onto me. The climbs up Colombus and Third Mountains were rough, but I had an energy bar on top of Third Mountain and felt a lot better. I quickly made it to Barren Mountain where I met Seabird, another SOBO. I continued to the next leanto for lunch and water break. Seabird caught up just as I was leaving, but she said she was aiming for this shelter tonight. The last 4.7 miles were killer, with some fords and lots of slippery and wet roots and rocks. I made it here eventually. The Beatles' "Baby You're a Rich Man" has been playing in my head since lunch. Not that that's a bad thing. Right after I got to the shelter, a NOBO section hiker showed up. After a short break he decided to push to the next shelter. As he was leaving a group of kids showed up. They are tenting somewhere behind the shelter and  I can hear them setting up. I think they are only going shelter to shelter which means the will be in the woods for a while. I set of my "I'm not dead" beacon (the Spot), and am waiting a while before making dinner. Tonight I will finally eat some of the mashed potatoes I brought. I think I've carried them long enough. Richard still hasn't been seen yet, I wonder if he's still coming all the way here. I'm also wondering if it would be entertaining to go watch the group in the woods. Some of them probably have no idea what they're doing. No trail name yet.One will come sooner or later.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be in Monson with a cold beer and a hot meal. Yum, I can't wait. My right knee has started hurting on the descents today. I hope it just needs a day off to recover, which it will get tomorrow and the day after. The maintainer for this section just arrived and he seems like a nice guy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I forgot....

I know some of you are dying to know, and I forgot to mention it in my last post, but I have been given a trail name.

Spider Web

Because I am usually the first one out of the shelter in the morning, so I collect lots of spider webs on me (especially my face it seems) as I walk down the trail.

State Number 2

I am writing this post from Gorham, NH. I got in this morning after a quick 11.8 miles. I crossed into NH yesterday afternoon.  I've taken a shower, and it sure feels good after so many days without one. I plan to take a zero day here tomorrow, so hopefully I can type up a bunch more days and catch up with those a bit. The hostel here has some Ben & Jerry's which I am thinking of having as a pre-lunch snack. :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 8, 6-26

--> Chairback Gap Lean-to, 17.1 miles

Woke up and got out shortly after Chief. The climb up Whitecap Mountain wasn't too bad, and there were a couple of views while we were above the clouds. The rest of the ridge was less difficult than I thought I would be. It was an easy walk down to Newhall Shelter, where I stopped for a while and ate lunch. From there I decided to go to the Pleasant River ford and campsites and see how I felt there. There is a road nearby because I saw a lot of day hikers out, probably to see the gorges and falls. Gulf Hagas might be fun to go back to sometime. Around that area I started to feel a little sick. After peeing a few times and drinking less water I felt better. I think I may have been drinking too much water. I'll cut back a bit on water intake, but not too much. Don't want the other problem, dehydration.

After fording the West Branch of the Pleasant River I decided to push the four miles to this shelter. It was a long climb, but I was able to get lost in my thoughts and it went by fairly quickly. At least the first half did. There is a false summit on Chairback mountain and I thought I was close to the shelter. However I was still a few hundred vertical feet below the true summit. From there it wasn't too far to the shelter. Only Richard is in the shelter, and Sam is hammocking nearby. The water source is a tiny spring that is down a steep hill. The water doesn't look too bad, and there don't seem to be too many chunks in it.

It was a long day today, 17 miles. I don't know if I've ever walked that far before in a day, let alone hiked that much with a full pack on. Right now my feet are sore, so hopefully by tomorrow morning they'll be less sore and my legs and sholders will feel like the do now. Its getting late and the High Five (Wooly, Xena, Skunky, Cheech, Chong [and Sugaree]) haven't been seen or heard, so I'm hopeful I'll get a night away from all that second-hand marijuana smoke. Chief said he was stopping at the river, so I may see him tomorrow if I don't do a big day. It looks like I'll get to Monson in 2-3 days, which is a bit faster than I thought. I don't have to worry about running out of food. I hope I didn't pack too much in my maildrop, cause my food bag will get very heavy and full again. Heavy backpacks are no fun. Hiker hunger better kick in soon so the food gets lighter. I'm just rambling now, so I'm going to put this notebook away and not use up all of my paper.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 7, 6-25

--> Logan Brook Lean-to, 11.7 miles

Woke up very early walked three miles by 7:15. Cheech and Chong and the Va. group were camping there by the lake. I said hi and kept going. At the road crossing I caught up with Sam and Lee and Jarred. Sam is a trail maintainer down in Georgia, the Hawk Mountain shelter area. He had some interesting stories about taking care of that area. The climb up Little Broadman Mountain wasn't hard, which is good because there's no view. It was downhill to the Pleasant River Lean-to where I had lunch. Just before the leanto is a ford of the river. I almost made it across, but my foot slipped and my bottom half got wet. From the leanto it was flat for 1.5 miles, then up two to the shelter. This was the first real climb since Katahdin. Being up will make the rest of the climb easier tomorrow, over Whitecap Mountain and the others.

I passed the half way point of the 100-mile wilderness today. I'm now six miles closer to Monson than Abol Bridge. Cheech and Chong and the Va. group showed up. There's a full house at the shelter tonight. The sky is getting darker, I think it is going to rain. I think I've covered everything for today, goodbye until tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 6, 6-24

--> Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to,  7.9 miles

I woke up to a red sky, and knew it was going to rain. I thought about getting up then, but decided it wouldn't start until later. I was wrong. I packed up and sat under my tarp to see if it would pass. After a while I decided to just pack up and head for the next shelter. It rained the first four miles to Jo-Mary Road, then the trees dripped on me for the next four miles. The rain was nice- it kept away the mosquitoes and got me and my clothes a much needed shower. Here at the shelter I hung everything up to dry and washed out my socks. It is amazing how much mud a pair of socks can hold.

Today was a short day, but it sets me up to go over the higher peaks over the next few days. I'm looking forward to more views and fewer mosquitoes.

I may be in luck. A couple of NOBOs stopped by for lunch and said that the next shelter is virtually bug free. This is probably the best news I have received in a while. It means that next time I hike in the rain I won't get a DEET-sunscreen-sweat mixture dripping in my eyes (it stings) or on my lips (numb) or in my mouth (tastes terrible).

PS: Next time you see me, ask me about Rope and his wife.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 5, 6-23

Nahmakanta Lake --> Antlers Campground, 10.7 miles

This is a really nice campground. No one else is here right now and I wouldn't complain if it stayed that way. It's amazing how quickly one's mood can change. Between the previous shelter (~3 miles back) and here I was mercilessly attacked by mosquitos. Amazing how much some DEET and a headnet will do.

I woke up this morning when it was light out, and after I couldn't hold in the pee anymore I got up. I was the first one up and was just about packed up by the time the others got up. It was an easy, mostly flat number of miles to the shelter (Podywadjo Spring) [I think thats the right spelling]. I got there very quickly. I passed the group with the dog, who caught up as I was leavning the shelter. The poor dog was limping on three paws, so I wonder how far they'll go today. It was the first shelter with a log with all of its pages present and intact, so it was neat to see who is in front of me. I wonder if I'll catch any of them. I haven't met any SOBOs who started after me. There was an old outdoors book in the shelter, but someone had torn out the pages on how to forcast the weather. The sky is very gray now, and I can't tell if it's going to rain or if it's getting better.

I constantly have blood on my hands from crushing mosquitoes. So far, only one blister on my left heel, and some sore spots where the hip belt goes. My left ankle/heel started to bother me today. I think I'll do a short day tomorrow to let it heal some.

A bunch of people have now arrived. Skunky built a fire which really helped keep the bugs away. Also, I have never seen so much marijuana in my life. Cheech and Chong and the three from Va. were smoking all evening, and comparing notes on Jamaica. After I went to bet I could still hear them talking.

Day 4, 6-22

Rainbow Stream Lean-to --> Dirt Road at S. end of Nahmakanta Lake, 11 miles

Woke up, packed up and left. The first part of the trail was along a gorge. I thought of Becky in Ithaca. There was a short but steep climb up Nesuntabunt Mountain. At the first ledge I ran into Walt (Chief). We took each other's photos and talked for a while. Shortly before we left it started to rain. This weather continued for a while, but it was never enough to put on rain gear. It has since stopped and it is sunny now. Walt caught up to me at Wadleigh Stream Lean-to and we ate lunch there. While resting we met the first NOBO- Prospector. Just before I left two more showed up. I was planning to stealth camp at Prentiss Brook, but there were no good sites. We are now at some sort of campground, set up by the lake. (Nahmakanta Lake) The guide book describes this point as "Gravel Road near South End of Nahmakanta Lake". I took the oppertunity to rinse all of my clothes, and they're hanging to dry now.

I've noticed I've gotten hungrier. I think hiker hunger is setting in. With luck it won't really get going until I'm out of the 100-mile wilderness. My legs, for the most part, are not sore anymore. Hopfully this lasts a long time.

Well, I thought it would be a quiet night, but Richard, then Cheech and Chong, and then a girl and her dad showed up. Luckily there wasn't a lot of crazyness. Also, the breeze that made this such a good campsite has died away, and the bugs have come back in full force. It's also really warm and I hope it cools off some and the bugs go away. It's too hot for long sleeves. I'm going to bed, the mosquitoes are attacking my exposed hands.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 3, 6-21

Hurd Brook Lean-to --> Rainbow Stream Lean-to, 11.5 miles

I'm not sure what time I woke up, but it was early. The sun was just hitting the tops of the trees. I ate a quick breakfast, packed up, and hit the trail. The climb up to Rainbow Ledges was less difficult than I thought it would be. I stopped at the first one and took some time applying moleskin to my feet and duck tape to my hips, where the hip belt was rubbing. Sitting here in the shelter now, the right one is still on, but the left one broke while I was putting it on. Now my pants have some sticky on them. Also, pulling off duck tape is very painful.

A lot of the trail today was along various lakes, and I got some nice views of them through the trees. Also, mud. There was quite a bit of mud on the trail. If my shoes hadn't been tied, one would probably have gotten lost.

I got to the shelter around 1:30. Giardia was there, and I met Wooly, Skunky, and Xena, and their dog Sugaree. The poor dog looked pooped, but they were pushing on a few more miles. I think I'll run into them again, I feel like I'm a faster hiker. An uncle-nephew group showed up shortly after. (Kenny and RJ) They're hiking the 100-mile wilderness. I'm wondering when Richard and Cheech & Chong (the guys from the shelter last night) will get here. The uncle/nephew were a lot of fun to talk to. Kenny knows his stuff, and plans to thru hike when he retires. I hope I run into them again. As I sit here this evening, Rainbow Stream shelter is growing on me more and more. The river is just in front of the shelter, and the whole scene is gorgeous. It will be hard to find another shelter or campsite this nice again.

Today is the longest day of the year, so I have no idea what time it is now. I figure I'll go to bed when I'm too tired to stay up anymore.  It was also hike naked day, but I didn't participate. My legs hurt less than yesterday, but my knees hurt now. Maybe the pain will work down to my feet and then be gone. I wish. I've run out of things to say, so I'm going to go to read somewhere comfortable then go to sleep. :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 2, 6-20

Katahdin Stream Falls Campground --> Hurd Brook Lean-to, 13.4 miles

Had pancakes again since Mom forgot the eggs for breakfast burritos. Packed up and went to ranger station. The ranger said I was SOBO (southbounder) number ~230 this year. We'll see what number I am when I reach Harper's Ferry, WV. First ten miles to Abol Bridge were relatively easy. I saw Big and Little Niagara Falls, and a bunch of rafters in the river. There were a few very swampy areas which required wading. Hopefully there won't be many more of those. Took a break at Abol Bridge and met Richard and Jeremy (Giardia). Richard is at the shelter tonight, but Giardia pushed on. I'm sitting here waiting for dinner time. The weather for the next few days looks good, so I'm happy.

After cooking dinner two guys showed up. After deciding that this was the place to stay, one proceded to roll a joint and climb ~60 feet up a tree to smoke it. It turns out that they tried to climb Katahdin but the magic mushrooms they ate beforehand were too strong. It will be interesting if the hike at the same speed as me. I'm predicting they won't finish- too many drugs. It's dark, so I might reat a while then go to bed.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 1, 6-19

Katahdin Summit --> Katahdin Stream Falls Campsite, 5.2 miles.

I woke up early, almost with the sun, and had pancakes for breakfast. Got on the Hunt Trail at 7:30. Wow, the part leading up to the table land was steep. Everyone (my parents and I) made it to the top. Great views and a number of people at the top. Going down was interesting with Dad. He must have been sore that night. Waiting was painful below treeline with all of the blackflies. At camp I made dinner while Mom and Dad finished coming down.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's Been a While

I'm not dead. I am currently in Stratton, ME, and staying at the Stratton Motel. I made it through the 100-mile wilderness without any problems, and spent a zero day in Monson. I would have posted there, but by the time I got there and showered and stuff the library with the public computer was closed. So I'm posting from Stratton, a few miles down the trail. I will type up a few of my journal entries and have them posted over the next few days. Also, if you have any questions about what it's like to be a thru-hiker, feel free to leave a comment after the posts. I'll see them when I'm in town. :)