Day 95 – A Walk in the Rain

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. – Bob Marley

Miles like today 13.2

It started raining about 15 minutes after I started walking this morning. It did not quit all day. And although it rained all day it was a beautiful walk in the woods. The trail was not arduous. Although the path was muddy at times it was still a wonderful walk.

I spent the day walking with Timeless. We walked past three ponds and even though it was raining the conversation flowed. 

We both kept saying what a wonderful trail.

I am not the most glamorous thing in my rain gear but it does keep me dry.

When we finally reached the RV we needed to wait on Moose and his mom. We told them we would give them a ride into town. While waiting we loaded two more hikers into the RV for a ride to town.

From left to right-Pippen who is from Pennsylvania, Illegal who is from Switzerland, Moose’s mom Christine and finally Moose.

You should’ve seen the RV floor after all the hikers left – mud was everywhere. 

Day 92 – 93 – 94 Hiker Trash

The influence of fine scenery, the presence of mountains, appeases our irritations and elevates our friendships. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Miles hiked 33.6 (Yes taking it easy)

Maine has proven to be a lovely walk in the woods. It hasn’t been too taxing but there has not been very many views either. But the forest is green and lush. We are beginning to see a smidgen of color change in the plants – Fall is just around the corner.


Every once in a while the trail leads to a ledge where you can get a view of the mountains. Mostly though it’s been a forest walk.



The thing that has changed the most is the hiker trash I am meeting. Hiker Trash is a term of endearment for any thru-hiker. Let me introduce you to a few of them.

This is Carolina Red and Long Dong. We call them the Red Brothers for obvious reasons, they are from Wisconsin. When we offered them a beer I think we became friends for life.


At one road crossing we gave four hikers a ride into town. Clockwise meet Pineapple, OMG, Shiver, Timeless, and Peanut Pan.


We dropped all of them, but Timeless, off in the town of Andover. They went to a hostel while Timeless camped with Hugh and I.  She pitched her tent next to our RV. It was a great evening spent with Timeless. She is from Germany.  We shared our dinner and in return got some great conversation. It was a real treat for us to spend an evening with Timeless.


Here I am at the summit of Old Blue Mountain. I spent most of the day hiking with Timeless and Moose.


At one viewpoint on a mountain there was a bench! There is never, never, never a bench on the Appalachian Trail. Timeless and I talked about this and it was the second bench we have seen. And remember the adage – when the trail give you a chair you sit down.




The next piece of Hiker Trash I’d like you to meet is Gray Eagle. I called him Colonel or Sir. The Colonel is a 75-year-old veteran of every war since Vietnam. He’s an Arabic speaking specialist and an incredibly interesting man. He said his wife was not thrilled when he told her he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. She thought she was done with long separations when he retired from the army. 


He had me laughing when he was telling me he was planning a covert operation to get her over to Spain so he could walk the Camino without her knowing that was his plan.

Our day ended at a place called Height of land. It was beautiful. 

Moose’s mother met him at Height of Land. A shuttle drop her off. Timeless, Christine and Moose are sharing our campsite tonight. Tomorrow we will slack pack Timeless, Moose and his mother to the next road.

Day 91 – I Did not Die Today!

If you can find a path with few obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. -Frank A Clark

Miles hiked today 14.1

I got up and packed up camp and was hiking by 6:30AM. I camped last night with Moose, an 18 yr old from Georgia. I did not get as far as I wanted yesterday, so I still had 14 miles to go today before I reach Hugh. I knew they were going to be a tough 14, but honestly had no idea how tough. I started off my day with the breakfast of Hikers – Poptarts on top of the first mountain. I love these moments. When you sit and just take time to soak it all in.

Then it was time to climb Goose Eye West Peak, Goose Eye East Peak and then Goose Eyed North Peak. The white blazes are BACK! Boy did I miss them in New Hampshire. They bring thru-hikers comfort. The trails in New Hampshire are older than the Appalachian Tail. And the New Hampshire hiking community is a little snobbish (with reason!) about their trails. They don’t use white blazes – or I should say they don’t use very many of them.

The terrain in southern Maine has been challenging so far. At points on the trail they do offer some aids. I always wonder how they choose where to put them. You will climb one that has “help” then go 20 feet further and there is one just like below with no help. Regardless, the help is always appreciated – thank you volunteers!

My view of looking down a ladder.

This view is from the summit of Goose Eyed West Peak.

There are no hand rails on the trail! And sometimes the “steps” they put in are pretty narrow. I have become quite adapt at going down these steps. I’m as comfortable on them as I am on my stairs at home. Of course at home I don’t have a backpack on!

I finally remember to get a shot of “closing in on a summit”. Many of the mountains have this steep rock face at the top. It takes a lot of thigh-power to climb up these steep rock faces, and you put a lot of faith in the tread of your shoes! Sometimes you can find divots for your poles to grab – but it is mainly just thigh power that gets you to the top.

Summit of Fulling Mill Mountain.

Then it was time to head down to……….THE NOTCH! I took these two pictures so you could see how I went down this part. I treat these medal rungs like steps, but take them slowly because they are slippery if your shoes are wet. First picture is from the top – second is from the bottom.

Then came The Mahoosuc Notch – The slowest mile on the Appalachian Trail! This is Moose, the young man I camped with last night. We hiked on and off together all day, but stuck together in the Notch. The guide book says…”for a mile the Appalachian Trail winds its way through a deranged jumble of boulders at the bottom of this deep cleft between Fulling Mill Mountain and Mahoosuc Mountain. Expect your hiking pace to be slowed drastically here.” It took us an hour and forty-five minutes to go one mile. I climbed, jumped, reached, crawled, and slid on my behind to get to the other side of the notch. It was fun, but it was EXHAUSTING.

This is one of the sheer cliffs on either side of the Notch. Look at the trees growing out of the wall. Amazing.

Poles were useless in the Notch. Many times you would throw them ahead of you and then climb up or down to them.

This jumble went on for a mile.

The next two pictures are from Walking with Wired‘s blog. She did an excellent job of getting an overall impression of the notch – that I wanted to share with you. In her pictures you can see how truly big boulders work.

The arrows (and there are not many of them through the Notch) show hikers the way.

Sometimes you had to take off your pack to get through a tight space. Truthfully I had fun for the first half. Then it was just a slog to get through the second half. You used every muscle in your body to get through the Notch.

Your reward for getting though the Mahoosuc Notch was a steep 1500 foot climb up Mahoosuc Arm. I knew at this point I was going to be much latter than I had told Hugh. Not only did I camp earlier the day before, but the hiking today was kicking my butt. I was slow. I texted him and tried to call – but never got through. I even call Hillary and have her try to reach him – but she too had no luck. He was waiting in a place with no cell service.

The view at the top were wonderful and believe me I sat down to enjoy them.

Then it was time to climb the last Mountain of the day. Old Speck. Toward the top you can see a slanted rock face. The trail tends to always follow these if it can. Less impact to the mountain – I think. But boy oh boy, when you are up toward the top, with the wind blowing, you really want some dirt under your feet where your poles can dig into.

The views from Old Speck were majestic…and the best part…the rest was all down hill.

I finally reached the parking lot at 4:30PM, after 10 hours of hiking, to find a very worried husband. Thank goodness there were people in the parking lot, that talked him down from calling out the National Guard. I had Hugh take a picture to show you just how dirty I got in two days. In the Notch I used my bottom to slide sometimes. I was filthy!

It has been a hard three days and my body is telling me I need a day off. I am exhausted. So tomorrow I will be taking a much need zero.

Drained and Dirty,

 

 

PS – I beat Moose to the parking lot by 15 minutes! (grin)

Day 90 – Maine Baby!

People in sleeping bags are the soft tacos of the bear world. – Unknown


Miles hike today 17.1

I hiked just far enough today to say I was in Maine. Tomorrow I have 14 miles until I reach The road, but between me and the RV is what is known as the toughest mile on the Appalachian Trail. I wanted to get closer so I only had 10 miles left but I was pooped. I think yesterday caught up with me today.

I started off around 8 AM. It was a bit overcast and rain was expected. The rain did come off and on. It was almost irritating.  Putting on raingear gear, taking a train gear, putting on rain care, taking off rain gear.


I spent a large portion of the day walking with Timeless. She is from Germany and is close to my age. We had a lovely conversation while hiking. There are so many Germans hiking the Appalachian Trail this year. I ask her about that and she said three years ago they run a documentary about it and it made a lot of people in Germany interested.

Today there was a lot of rock climbing. But what most stands out about today is how muddy it was. I think today was the muddiest day on the Appalachian Trail so far. I ran into a couple of guys and they said it’s been very dry and the waters not soaking up as fast as they thought it would. There is standing water all over the trail.


It didn’t help that I also went through two different bogs today. They lay planks over the worst of it but even the planks sometimes were underwater.


The final climb today was climbing Mount Success. It had beautiful views from the top. Let me tell you getting to the top of it was hard. It’s not that it was that much difficult than any other mountain it was just that I was so tired. Every footfall was an effort.


Coming down Mount Sucess my only goal was to get far enough that I passed over into Maine. Then it was time to find a place to camp. There was a shelter nearby but it was almost a mile off the trail. By that time I was hiking with a young man named Moose. We decided to stealth camp. 
 

My tent is set up, I have had dinner, and even watched an episode of Big Brother. Don’t judge! I’ll finish this blog and read for a little bit before going to sleep.  I have no doubt that will happen before 9 PM tonight.

Sweet dreams,

Day 89 – Eight is Too Much

Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence – Nemann Buhl 

Miles hike today 21.1 – too many!

I started hiking at 6:30 AM this morning. First up was lost pond I walked by it and as you can see the fog had settled over the mountain this did not change for most of the day.

As I walked up Wildcat Mountain I first headed to the D peak. Along the way I got this photo. I think it’s the best photo of the day.

For a while now I’ve been meaning to show the “steps” that are sometimes placed on the trail. They bolt these triangles to the rock. There are no handholds you just have to have good balance.

Here is a view from the side of some other steps. If you’re scared of heights the Appalachian trail is not for you.

Near the top of  there was gondola. Wildcat is a ski area. 

All day long I had no views as fog settled over the mountains. This is the summit of Wildcat D Peak. 

Summit of Wildcat Peak. 

Summit up Carter Dome. 

Summit of Mount Hight.

Summit of South Carter Mountain

Summit Middle Carter Mountain

Summit of North Carter Mountain. 

And finally when I reached my eighth mountaintop I got a view. As I was climbing Mount Mariah I couldn’t help but take pictures because I had not seen anything all day.


In total I climbed eight mountains today. I thought I had seven to climb and I was doing a countdown through text with Hillary. When I figured out there was eight instead of seven I was crushed. Never throw an eighth mountain at somebody who’s already climbed seven!

Today was hard. Very hard. I took on too much. The miles were OK but then throw in 8 mountains and I overdid. I hiked for 12 1/2 hours. I averaged 1.7/mph. It seems very slow but remember eight mountains. The downs were precarious because the fog made all the rocks so slick. 

By the time I reach the RV, my feet were sore my knees were sore and I was tired. I will sleep well tonight!

Day 88 – Overwhelming Frustration!

Buddha’s doctrine: Man suffers because of his craving to possess and keep forever things which are essentially impermanent… this frustration of the desire to possess is the immediate cause of suffering.     


Miles hiked today zero!

As the title says overwhelming frustration is what my day was all about. Yesterday I updated my hiking app after I was finished hiking for the day. We went into town where there was good cell service and I updated all the apps on my phone that needed it. Guthooks was one.

What a huge mistake! It stopped working after the update. I have spent all day long trying to get it to work again. Deleting, loading, calling tech-support, deleting, uploading, emailing tech-support, deleting, uploading, pulling my hair out.

At 3 PM in the afternoon I finally got it to work. I rely on this app for everything. It tells me where I’m going. It shows me if I’m on the trail. It lets me message Hugh with directions to where to pick me up. It is what I rely on. Having it not work scared me and cost me a day on the trail.

I was planning on a 20+ mile day today. And truthfully I was a little worried about making it that far. With that app going haywire it really put me on edge. Tomorrow I will do my 20 mile day. I have seven peaks I have to get across. It will be a long day but I can do it. 

On a lighter note my buddy Juergen summited Katahdin today. Congrats to him!

Day 87 – Down, Down, & Down

To infinity and beyond!” -Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story, 1995

Miles hiked today 7.8

Because I hiked so far yesterday, I had an “easy” day today, or so I thought. I had been warned about the descent from Mt. Madison – I should have listened more closely. It was the rocks that made it slow going. These boulders are sharp! And some of them are unstable, which makes for a treacherous crossing. It was SLOW GOING! I not real good at slow, but today there was no choice.

The views were incredible – so today entry is mostly pictures. Enjoy.

The views were Majestic!










Day 86 – Dead Presidents

It’s always further than it looks.
It’s always taller than it looks.
And it’s always harder than it looks.
– The three rules of mountaineering

Miles hiked today 18.2

I’m glad I waited! 

The weather was pretty clear when we woke up and I started out early. My first climb was up to Mount Webster along the way there was a viewpoint called Websters cliffs that’s what the photo below is from.

Then I reach the top of Webster and had to take a couple more photos.




Today was all about going over a lot of mountains. It’s called the Presidential Range the first of the presidents is Jackson. Here I am on the summit of Mount Jackson.

At the bottom of Mount Jackson there was an alpine bog. As I was hiking a family came along and a little girl about 10 years old fell off the planks that went over the mud she went up to her thigh in mud. She was not very happy and her mood was not helped by her mother laughing her head off. I maintained my composure until after I had passed them – then grinned like a fool.

The third mountain was Mount Eisenhower.

When I was in The cradle between Eisenhower and Monroe I came across this bird. I would swear it was a chicken. What in the world is a chicken doing up on a mountain?

Mount Monroe was the 4th peak of the day. The weather stayed nice and the views were incredible.


Mount Pierce was the final peak before Mount Washington. The wind continued to blow but the temperature was not to cold…yet.


On my way up to the summit of Mount Washington, I passed this young girl who was an employee at one of the “huts” here in The Whites. She was carrying fresh produced from the summit of Washington (where there is a road) to the Lake of the Clouds Hut 1.5 miles away. Can I just say…You could not pay me enough to do this! Look at the terrain this young woman had to navigate with that on her back.

Finally the summit of Mount Washington came into view. There is a massive weather station at the top. Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast. “It is home to the most extreme weather in the world, with winds speeds reaching up to 200 miles per hour and temps dropping to below freezing even at some points in the summer.” There is a visitors center at the top – and let me tell you it was a ZOO! Tons of people ride the cog railway up to the top and some even drive their cars.

The top of Mount Washington. There is a sign that says summit, but the line to get your picture by sign was too long. All the people from the train were lined up.

Best part of the visitors center was the cafe that sold Chili dogs! What a treat. To have a hot meal in the middle of the day.


I met Gaylen, Alex and Valkyrie (Val) on my hike up Washington. Also ran into them on the way down. Great people! And Val the dog was a sweetie.

Alex pointed out the 3 mountains in front of us – Mount Clay, Mount Adams, & Mount Madison. He then told and told me my destination for the night was between Adams and Madison. My heart sank a little but it was time to make tracks. I started up, as they started down.






Finally my destination was in sight.  This is Madison Spring Hut. I know! That is not a hut it is a lodge, but they call them huts here in New Hampshire.

I think I mentioned at the “huts”, thru hikers and work-for-stay. If you do the chores they ask of you, you get a hot meal and a place on the floor of the main room. I washed dishes as my chore and got pulled pork in return! Here is the Hiker Trash (thru hikers) that was also at the hut. Roam, Camel, McSexy, Freebird, Log John, Sasha, and Tinman.

Tried but what  a great day!

Day 85 – Waiting on the Sun

You usually have to wait for that which is worth waiting for. – Craig Bruce

Miles hiked today zero. 

Today I was supposed to climb and summit Mount Washington. The picture above and below is from web cams from the Weather Station on top of Mount Washington. It is 2 o’clock and the summit is still shrouded in fog.


I made the right decision not to hike today, but it is so hard waiting around. It makes you want to point the RV in the direction of Kansas and just go home.

Tomorrow I will hike. It is supposed to be clearer but even if it’s not I will hike. 

Day 84 – Easy Peasy

“Though the road’s been rocky it sure feels good to me.” ― Bob Marley

Miles hike today 7.8.

Because I walk so far yesterday I had an easy, easy day today to reach my meeting point with Hugh. Today’s hike was mostly flat ground or downhill-you can’t get better than that.


I still had some beautiful views. This area was filled with large rocks.


And in some places the trail was as flat as a pancake. This was a real treat.


Since today was such an easy day I decided to take a side trail to see Thoreau Falls. It was a beautiful setting and the falls were interesting, very flat and went on for ever.



It was a lovely morning and only took me a couple of hours to get to our meeting place.




When I reach the road I realized I sent Hugh to a place that was a couple miles away from the trail. An Angel gave me a hitch. The kindness of strangers is unbelievable on the Appalachian Trail.


I will be waiting for good weather before I climb Mount Washington. I don’t want to hike up and see nothing again.