Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 140. A fun zero with the family

Day 140. A fun zero with the family

Date: July 30, 2012

Day number: 140

Wake info: 0528h @ Will's Inn in , NH

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): N/A

Pain scale AM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 12

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 3

Start weather: Sunny, warm, low 80s, mild breeze


End MM & TOD: N/A

Approximate miles covered today: 0 miles (but we canoed 6 miles today!)

Pain scale PM (1-10): 1

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 12

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 6

End weather: Sunny, warm, 70s, but it rained in the mid afternoon.


Resting time: 24 hours

Where slept: bed @ Will's Inn

Bedtime: 2345h

Money spent: $6.73 (Body Glide)

Resupply: yes. Kathleen brought food for 5 days. She also brought white gas for my stove, and my LAST PAIR OF BOOTS!


Trail conditions: N/A


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • None.

Liters of water consumed: 5 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 0 minutes

Number and location of showers: 0 (Again, the pool.)


Songs playing in my head:


  • none - too much visiting with the family!


Happenings at home: Home is here with me! Kathleen just learned that Archer can't come to the taping of Josie's cooking competition, do he will stay with the Harris family this weekend. I am feeling very guilty that I'm not home!


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): Kathleen, Archer, & Josie!


Trail Magic: Being with my family! I am happy that they made the long drive just to be with me for a day!


Flora: A Christmas tree fir whose top looked like the Grinch's hair.


Fauna: Ducks and geese on the river. Chipmunks. Some nice birds.

 
Vistas: None.

 
Attractions: Canoeing the Saco River with Saco Bound livery.

  
State of body: Feeling great!


State of mind: Having a great day, but I'm not ready for the family to depart tomorrow. I'm so ready to be done and go home.


Notes:  


  • I spent a wonderful day with Kathleen and the kids canoeing and swimming in the the Saco River, swimming at the hotel pool, eating a huge and delicious meal at the xxx restaurant, laughing at a few episodes of Frasier, and watching some of the Olympic Games.
  • I'm sad to think that they well be going back home tomorrow, but I'm buoyed that I'll be home in a matter of just a few weeks.


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • none


Droid Phone Notes: I charged the iSound USB charger for hours at the hotel. I also charged my phone. (My external battery was already fully charged.)

 
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Day 139. An unfun day with a happy ending

Day 139. An unfun day with a happy ending

Date: July 29, 2012

Day number: 139

Wake info: 0450h @ Madison Spring Hut

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 1857.0 mile @ 0635h at Madison Spring Hut

Pain scale AM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 9

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 1

Start weather: Overcast, foggy, cool, 50s, damp, windy.


End MM & TOD: 1864.8 mile @ 1330h at Pinkham Notch, NH 16

Approximate miles covered today:   8.0 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 10

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 3

End weather: Rain & drizzle, overcast, 60s.


Resting time: 1:09

Where slept: bed @ Will's Inn in Glen, NH

Bedtime: in bed at 2100h to visit and watch some of the Olympics. Asleep by 2320h.

Money spent: $0

Resupply: no


Trail conditions: Rocky, boulders, rooty. A slow traverse until the final couple miles. The first mile took me 80 minutes because of the rain and dense fog. The descent to the gap from the top of Madison was slow going over boulders. Flat and smooth at the very end. Lots of small and lovely creek crossings during the final five miles!


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • My clothes stink! I need a bath and they need to be laundered.

Liters of water consumed: 7 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 0 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 32 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 1 (the auto road to Mt Washington)

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits: 1 (Mt Madison)

Number of mountain summits: 2

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 3

Number of times I've fallen: 2 (Just your garden variety slip and fall on my butt. One on a wet root, the other on a wet rock. No injuries. 

Number of bugs swallowed: 0

Number and location of showers: 1 (the pool at the hotel)


Songs playing in my head:


  • Toxic - Britney Spears, but with the Glee version playing in my head.
  • We the People - School House Rock (the Constitution song)
  • Good ol Boys (Dukes of Hazzard theme song) - Waylon Jennings
  • Davey Crockett - George Burns / Fess Parker / The Wellingtons


Happenings at home: Home came to me! I found Kathleen, Archer, and Josie hiking south on the Trail to intercept me! Although it wasn't much, I'm glad they were all able to hike some of the AT with me! Perhaps we'll have another chance on Tuesday? I've learned that Josie's cooking show is actually a competition, do she had to go home and practice her basic skills and know how to prepare a few meals on her own. The child contestants can't use a knife or an oven.


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): Indiana, T, P-Squared, Johannes. A father, son, & daughter out for a hike. The dad and I chatted about his thru-hike planned for next year. Like me, he was confused about food drops. I was thrilled to Kathleen, Archer, and Josie waiting for me on the AT!


Trail Magic: Being with my family! I couldn't tell who was happier - them or me!


Flora: Fir, birch, etc.


Fauna: Frogs.

 
Vistas: Even in the clouds, the views from Mt Madison were amazing!

 
Attractions: Mt Madison, but the hiking was difficult and slow. Pinkham Notch.

  
State of body: My knees and ankles are very sore from all the beating they've taken from Trail's roots, rocks, and boulders. My feet, which started off the day soaking wet from already wet boots, just became more wet throughout the day. They are really pruned up, but no hot spots or blisters developed. Yay, Hydropel!


State of mind: Despite being super-excited to see my family, this day was a hard one for me mentally. The AT was difficult and slow, although nothing like the climb up from Crawford Notch or South Kinsman! I'm just tired of going so slowly over so few miles.


Notes:  


  • I'm so exited to see my family today! I'll have to be especially careful not to fall and hurt myself on the long, steep, and slippery downhill today.
  • This may be the last time I see T. She has to get off and go back to work. We said our goodbyes at the hut this morning. (She was staying for breakfast but I needed to hut the Trail early.) I'll miss her a lot, for she was so friendly, kind, and nice!
  • The first mile took me one hour and twenty minutes to traverse! The footing was bad and the fog was thick. Coming down Adams I could see the Visitor Center, and to have your goal in sight and make so little progress was maddening.
  • Most of the day was slow going. I don't do well descending steep and rocky mountains. Apparently Indiana does not have that problem, for he came bounding down the mountain as if it were a city street.
  • I was therefore surprised to see Indiana a couple of hours later heading south on the AT with a forlorn look. At first I thought the trail was impassable our that a bridge had been washed away, but it was worse than that. Indiana was backtracking because he just realized that he forgot to close the zipper to one of his pack's pockets and his camera and toothbrush fell out. I told him I had seen his toothbrush miles ago just after coming out of the alpine zone, but that I hadn't seen his camera. I felt terrible for him, for all of his pictures were on the camera and apparently he did not make a backup of them. I really hurt for the guy! He hiked back as short distance and sent word with hikers going north and south top be on the lookout. Fortunately, his name and number are written on the camera, so if someone finds it it is likely he'll get it back. The fear is that it might have fallen out on the long, boulder field trek up or down Mt Madison, in which case if it fell between two boulders it may be forever lost in the crags.
  • I'm very close to being done with the White Mountains and I am beginning to feel that the end is near. At least six people said, "Congratulations!" to me today when they learned I was a NOBO thru-hiker. I appreciated the sentiment, but I still have over 300 difficult miles to cover. It does feel close, however!
  • I stopped to grab a snack and a drink of water at the auto road leading up to the summit of Mt Washington. The road was crowded with cars from all over the country. A few slowed down so they could take a picture of me - the hiker in it's natural habitat. I felt like I was in a zoo.
  • I was so happy to see the bright, shining faces of Kathleen, Josie, and Archer hiking south on the AT as I was hiking north! I couldn't have been more delighted to see anyone!
  • The biggest surprise of the day was the unveiling of Archer's new haircut. When I saw him on the Trail he purposefully had his head covered with his hoodie. We arrived at the hotel and he uncovered his new do, which was as short as he's ever had it! This may not seem like a big deal, but for Archer to have cut off his coif was huge! I was so surprised and expressive that folks at the hotel thought I was being attacked by a bear. (They were going to the pool every day and the chlorine was making Archer's hair difficult to deal with, so he got it all cut off.) He looks so different and so old! I think it's wonderful!
  • We spent the afternoon swimming and playing in the "heated" pool at the Inn. Kathleen made a wonderful and healthy pasta and veggie dinner in the kitchenette. She and I spent the evening watching the kids swim (I was to cold to go back in cool water), and we all enjoyed watching some of the swimming and gymnastic competitions at the Olympics before going to sleep.


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • There's just no way to predict how long it will take to hike a section of the AT in the Whites. Every thru-hiker I spoke to about this had the same sentiment.
  • The rejuvenating effects of seeing one's family, even for a brief period, can not be underestimated this close to the end of such a long journey!


Droid Phone Notes: The PEG was still solid green. It's apparent to me that something is just not quite right with the code, for I am unable to consistently walk the unit back to fully charged. I don't think I'm going to carry it any further, for it seems that Tremont Electric has some more fine tuning to do with their firmware and I'm not sure if there are any more experiments I can do with the little time I have left on the Trail. However, I think the physics behind the PEG is solid and the engineering of the unit is well-thought out. I had a lot of fun helping test the prototype - it brought out the nerd in me - and I predict the nPower PEG will be standard backpacking equipment in the near future!

 
The iSound charger still had some power in it's batteries as indicated my it's one illuminated blue LED. I wasn't able to charge my phone for very long (about 15 minutes) before the line LED was extinguished. The unit continued to charger my phone, but I didn't want to completely drain it, so I unplugged my phone. The verdict on the iSound: despite being heavy (0.67 lbs), the device was able to charge my phone for a week of constant use. For testing purposes I was cavalier with my phone usage, making more phone calls and sending more texts than I needed to, but I was curious to see how the device would hold up to heavy use in the backcountry. Recall that I also let T charge her iPhone with my iSound at Madison Hut. I think the device worked pretty well.

 
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Day 138. An eventful day along the Presidential Range

Day 138. An eventful day along the Presidential Range

Date: July 28, 2012

Day number: 138

Wake info: 0521h @ Mizpah Spring Hut

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 1845.2 mile @ 0836h at Mizpah Spring Hut

Pain scale AM (1-10): 3

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 8

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 1

Start weather: Partly cloudy, cool, 50s & 60s, breezy, some sun.


End MM & TOD: 1857.0 mile @ 1901h at Madison Spring Hut

Approximate miles covered today:   12.0 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 3

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 8

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 1

End weather: Cold, 40s, rain, fog, windy, overcast, thunder.


Resting time: 2:38

Where slept: Dining room floor @ Madison Hut

Bedtime: In bed at 2155h to blog. Asleep by 2315h.

Money spent: $6 (a slice of pie at Lakes Hut and a bowl of chili at Mt Washington)

Resupply: no


Trail conditions: Lots of rock and boulder hoping today. With the exception of the very top of Mt Washington, the path wasn't steep, and Washington wasn't terribly so.


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • By the end of the day everything I was wearing is soaked because of the rain. My pack cover did a nice job keeping the face of the pack dry, but water got into the bottom compartment and my fleece got wet despite being stored in a plastic bag. Fortunately, the critical items (sleeping bag, long underwear, extra socks, phone, and electronics) stayed nice and dry in the more expensive and robust dry bags.

Liters of water consumed: 8 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 0 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 32 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 0

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits:   4 (including Pierce, Franklin, and Washington)

Number of mountain summits: 4, but we summitted or climbed very near the summits of 8 mountains!

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 2

Number of times I've fallen: 0 (surprising, given the wet weather!)

Number of bugs swallowed: 0

Number and location of showers: 0


Songs playing in my head:


  • The Game of Love - Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders
  • True Colors - Cindy Lauper
  • Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
  • Billionaire - Bruno Mars
  • Hotel California - The Eagles


Happenings at home: Unknown. No cell strength. I assume they made it to Kathy and Gisele's last night. I can't wait to see them tomorrow!


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): P-Squared. Indiana. T (She slept at the adjacent campsite last night and was hoping to score some breakfast leftovers. We ended up seeing each other a lot today. ) Johannes. Wild Child & Dash. All but the latter two were at Madison Hut with me tonight.


Trail Magic: I got leftover breakfast at Mizpah for my work yesterday. And as I waited for breakfast I was able to journal while rocking in their wonderful rocking chair! I do miss a chair with a back and arm rests, but one that rocks, that's magic! However, the best magic of the day came as I was hiking up Mt Eisenhower. Two guests from the Mizpah Hut, Mike and Cindy, who heard mine and Indiana's thru-hiker presentation last night asked if I wanted some candy for my climb. I said sure, of course, and as they were rooting through their pack they found other things to give me: Combos, a Cliff Bar, M&Ms - I was practically out of food so this was a bonanza! We chatted for a while and then said goodbye, for they were going home that afternoon. (Mike & Cindy: that food was crucially important because I was caught in a cold rain storm later that day and needed the food for fuel and warmth! Thank you!)


Flora: Blueberries. Lots of alpine flowers. Krumholtz.


Fauna: Black flies (there was minimal wind to keep them at bay). A yellow slug (they are ubiquitous here) that was suspended far below a tree by a stand of silk. Do slugs do this?

 
Vistas: A large number today! From every mountain peak and all along the ridgeline the views were spectacular. I was disappointed with the views from Mt. Washington perhaps because that place was a zoo and you had to wait your turn to see the vista. I much preferred the ridge views between Mizpah and Madison Huts. It's too bad that it rained
during the last 4.5 miles of today's hike, for what I was able to see was awe inspiring.

 
Attractions: Mt.Washington (but
wouldn't recommend it - very touristy). Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Madison Spring Hut.

  
State of body: I feel good now that I've dried out. My left elbow still hurts if I apply pressure to it.


State of mind: I feel like I'm on auto pilot and everything is running smoothly. I'm very relaxed and not anxious about anything. I'm in a good grove.


Notes:  


  • Each hut puts on a unique and corny skit for the guests at the conclusion of breakfast extolling three things: pack out your trash, food your blankets, and tip your croo.
  • I wish I had video recorded the croo members washing dishes after breakfast, for they were so fast!
  • I ate so much breakfast today I'm about to pop! I enjoyed talking with the croo as I ate, for they were friendly and fun.
  • I'm excited that the weather looks pretty good this morning. I'll be on Mt Washington in just a few hours and I'm hoping that the ridge walk is as captivating as the one I had on Franconia Ridge.
  • It wasn't. Franconia Ridge is truly on the ridgeline, where the Presidential Ridge is more of a plateau. Still, the scenery and vistas were spectacular! And the hiking was easy - for the Whites!
  • The Lakes of the Clouds Hut was situated at the bottom if Mt Washington and surrounded by a couple of small lakes. Very picturesque! And the croo there made a great pie!
  • Several of the Lakes croo were busy that day carrying heavy pack boards filled with food and supplies from the summit of my Washington to the hut. Some of the packs weighed over 100 pounds!
  • Mt Washington was a zoo, filled with tourists who either drove or took the cog railroad to the summit. Then they would wait in line to climb the 12 foot "hike" to the summit to have their picture made in front if the sign at the summit. Then they'd eat a bowl of chili and take their vehicle or the rail back down. It saddened me and really challenged my experience! To be fair, there were hikers there who actually hiked a pretty fair distance to the peak, but most arrived via internal combustion or steam engine.
  • I saw T again at Lakes of the Clouds Hut and again at my Washington. I was surprised to learn that she was a long distance section hiker (not a thru-hiker) who was getting off August 2.
  • T and I checked the weather radar at the information both because the weather wad turning bad. It looked like thunderstorms were approaching but that we could make it to Madison Hut before they arrived. We decided to hike together because you never know what the weather could do in the Whites, especially near Mt Washington!
  • I am happy that T and I hiked the six miles to Madison Hut together, for the weather rapidly turned nasty. The temperature dropped significantly, drizzle turned into a constant and penetrating rain, the wind picked up, and a thick fog settled in. This was hypothermia weather and I was happy to have a buddy! We worked together to go from cairn to cairn, for the clouds and fog made it difficult to see the path! The going was rocky and very slow on the slick rocks. We were never so happy to see a hut! By the time we arrived, we were soaked to the bone and beginning to show signs of exposure. I was losing function of pinky fingers and immediately after stopping hiking I began to shiver. Another hour or two would have put us in serious jeopardy!
  • We arrived at Madison Hut in the middle of the guests' dinner, but were greeted by a warm and friendly croo member named Coralis, who made us feel welcome and told us we could stay and eat if we ran the evening program and talked to the guests about our thru-hikes. Sweet! This was T's first work-for-stay. The dinner was fantastic and the Q&A program went well. Coralis was the cook that night and boy can she cook! Her turkey was some of the best I ever had! She wants to open her own restaurant - I'd eat there!
  • Just before arriving at Madison Hut I passed the 85% mark. I'm now a solid B-student on the AT! Only 15% more, but it's a difficult 15%!
  • The sunset as seen from the hut was magnificent. It was difficult to imagine that just an hour prior I was freezing cold in heavy rain and fog!


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • In the Whites, when weather threatens, it is always a safe and smart move to travel with a buddy! I felt reassured that T was with me during the storm, and I know she felt the same way.
  • When hanging your clothes on pegs to dry out, don't put your boots under the dripping clothes! Dummy!


Droid Phone Notes:
The PEG was still should green. I let T use my iSound charger to charge her iPhone from 50% to 100%. I also used the iSound charger to charge my phone from 43% to 100%. There was only one blue LED illuminated on the charger when completed, indicating the battery was below 25% capacity.

 
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Day 137. A grueling and fantastic day of hiking - I mean mountain climbing - to Mizpah Hut

Day 137. A grueling and fantastic day of hiking - I mean mountain climbing - to Mizpah Hut

Date: July 27, 2012

Day number: 137

Wake info: 0534h @ Ethan Pond Shelter

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 1835.9 mile @ 0740h at Ethan Pond Shelter

Pain scale AM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 8

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 3

Start weather: Wet from last night's rain, drizzle, in the clouds, cool, low 50s, cloudy


End MM & TOD: 1845.2 mile @ 1511h at Mizpah Spring Hut

Approximate miles covered today: 9.5 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 9

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 5

End weather: Sunny one moment, cloudy the next. Generally nice though, certainly nicer than predicted! Low 70s. Mild breeze.


Resting time: 1:26

Where slept: on the dining room floor @ Mizpah Hut

Bedtime: In my bag at 2116h to journal. Asleep by 2050h.

Money spent: $0 (work-for-stay)

Resupply: no


Trail conditions: A little rocky and rooty coming down to Crawford Notch. VERY rocky and rooty and VERY STEEP going up from Crawford Notch to Mt Jackson! It was more like mountain climbing than hiking! The last couple miles had some small, steep, and rocky portions, but was fairly easy walking with a number of puncheon areas.


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • I an running low on gas for my stove. Fortunately I was able to work four food at Mizpah and the fuel should last one mute meal in case I don't get work at Madison Spring Hut tonight.
  • I am also low on food, but because I've gotten two work-for-stays, paid for one soup meal at Zealand, and have the concessions at Mt Washington coming up today, I should have enough to get me to Pinkham Notch on Sunday even if I don't Getty food at Madison. I have half of a dinner (a bag of stuffing), one breakfast (pancakes, which take a lot of fuel), and a small number of snacks left.

Liters of water consumed: 5 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 5 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 34 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 1 (US 302)

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits: 2 (Webster & Jackson)

Number of mountain summits: 2

Number of wrong turns: 1 (The AT in New Hampshire is not well-marked and I had to spend a few minutes figuring out which way to go at a junction.)

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 2

Number of times I've fallen: 2 (One was a simple slip and fall on my butt. The other fall was significantly more serious, but no real and lasting injuries were sustained. Read below for more details.)

Number of bugs swallowed: 0

Number and location of showers: 0


Songs playing in my head:


  • Like a Prayer - Madonna (as much as I try, I just can't get that song out of my had and it's driving me crazy!)
  • Toxic - Britney Spears, but the version sung by the Glee cast


Happenings at home: I learned this morning that Josie earned one of eight spots on the internet TV cooking show! Way to go, Pheeny! Filming begins in just a few days in New York City. She'll have to work 12-hour days for the days. I'm so happy for her! How many people can say their first paying job was an acting gig? The family is en route to Kathy and Gisele's Massachusetts home this afternoon. They will stay a day there and depart on Sunday to meet me at Pinkham Notch!


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): John, a congregational minister from Massachusetts out for a week; he and I ate breakfast together and chatted. (He and I would spend the better part of the day hiking up Webster and Jackson together.) He told me there is a young couple here at the Ethan Pond site from Mississippi, but they were still sleeping when I left and didn't meet them. P-Squared & Johannes trying to thumb a ride into town to resupply. Both of these guys were at Mizpah Hut tonight, along with Indiana, and Pepper Boy. I met a long distance section hiker named "180", who was out with his son and who follows my blog. Once again I'm flabbergasted that my blog put me in touch with someone I would have otherwise not known. I also met a couple from Maine who offered to drive me from Katahdin to Bangor so I can get home! (They approached me after Indiana and I gave our talk to the Mizpah Hut guests.)


Trail Magic: Work-for-stay at Mizpah. A couple from Maine who I met at Mizpah offered to put me up in their home after I summit Katahdin and then drive me to Bangor so I can get home! I'm telling you, the people you meet on the AT are amazing!


Flora: A plant that resembles a tiny mountain laurel.


Fauna: An eagle soaring right by me off Webster Cliffs! Frogs.


Vistas: Nice views from Webster Cliffs and Mt Webster. Stellar views from Mt Jackson!


Attractions: Mizpah Springs Hut. The views were also an attraction, but the hike to them was a killer! Don't do it in the rain! An easier path would be the Mt Clinton Trail.


State of body: My knees are more sore than normal - all these steep climbs and descents on granite rocks are taking their toll! Also, after my fall my left elbow is tender to the touch and it can't support any weight when I prop up in bed or rest them on a table. Also, my left tricep is bruised and tender due to my fall.


State of mind: I was fortunate to be in a wonderful mental state today, because the Trail was so difficult. If I had been in a bad mood or was hiking with any latent anxiety today could have easily been a miserable experience! As I were, I enjoyed a fabulous day making one of the must difficult and dangerous climbs on the AT and I loved it!


Notes:


  • I enjoyed a wonderful night's sleep with many hours of rest. The sound of the rain hitting the metal roof all night was soothing and brought back many childhood memories of sleeping on the porch of Aunt Birdie's country home.
  • The descent from the shelter to US 302 was rocky but not a bad hike. It would have been a fast trek for me, but I stopped when I could hear the road to check my phone for messages. I learned that Josie did, in fact, get the job for the cooking show in New York! I had to phone home for that, but the kids were still asleep because they were up so late celebrating. I'm so happy for Josie! And Dad had also called to say that he and two of my brothers, Gy and Douglas, would like to return for one more slacking adventure. We nailed down the dates and I'm looking forward to seeing them one more time!
  • I crossed the Saco River, which is just a little spit of a stream here. On Sunday I'll canoe it with Kathleen and the kids. Can't wait!
  • The climb out of Crawford to Mt Jackson was rocky and extraordinarily steep in places. This puts even the climb up South Kinsman to shame. Luckily I was in a better mental state today, so it was actually fun, but there were several dangerous sections that could have ended in disaster. The rocks were wet and slippery, and there were sections that required being comfortable with and skilled at mountain climbing. I talked with all of the thru-hikers at the hut about todays climb and they all agreed it was one of the hardest climbs of the AT. We were also in agreement that your average day hiker had no business doing that section, and we were concerned about how all the 70+ year-old thru-hikers behind us would fare on this climb! I'm not meaning to be an ageist, but I hope they consider blue blazing around this climb!
  • I actually slipped and fell on this section. I was crossing a rock slab that was long and wide and sloped at a steep downward angle. Oh, it was also wet. About six feet below the end of the slab was a narrow ledge. I had to climb up to the slab and just as I stepped on the slippery rock my foot shot out from under me and I crashed hard on my chest, with my left side taking most of the force. I immediately began sliding down the rock face on my belly feet first, and through sheer reflexive action reached out and luckily found two rocky knobs to grab on to that attested my fall. I'm fairly certain if I hadn't caught myself the fall would not have proven catastrophic. Luckily I didn't have to find out as I was able to pull myself up and gain purchase with my foot. I thought about releasing my backpack and letting it fall to the ledge below, but I didn't want to damage the contents, wasn't sure if it would have remained on the ledge, and I couldn't figure our how to get my arms out of the straps without falling. Ultimately I was able to scoot down the slab and find stable footing. And then climbed back up to try again - successfully this time!
  • Half way up Mt Webster I came upon John, the pastor I met at breakfast. He was sitting on a rock and not looking too well. He mentioned that he was out of water and thirsty. This was bad because the day was warm, there was still a lot of elevation to gain, and the next water source was hours away. I had already consumed a liter of water on my way up but had two liters remaining. Because I drink copious amounts of water my body stays pretty well hydrated, so I didn't hesitate to give John a liter of my water. He was so appreciative and downed half of it immediately. It was obvious he was becoming dehydrated. I suggested that we walk the remainder of the way to Mizpah Hut together, and if he needed more water he could have my reserves. The hike so far was a killer for me, but for John, who is an experienced hiker but didn't have hardened trail legs, the hike was more strenuous than he (or I) imagined that it would be. He was tired and hiking with a partner is often a helpful motivator. Additionally, having someone to chat with takes your mind off of your hardships. I know, for I've been there many times myself. So we hiked and climbed and chatted for the next few hours. He was a great fellow who was do easy to talk with, and he made the miles fly by for me. I gave him a new roll of Lifesavers candy to keep his mouth from becoming dry (his father used to do the same thing), and I shared my last liter of water with him atop Mt Jackson. From Jackson we could see Mizpah Hut about two miles away, so we knew water wasn't far. John thanked me again and hoped that my kindness would come back to me. While we were taking in the view from Jackson, a couple who had hiked up from Mizpah offered me a chunk of their chocolate bar - good karma pays off!
  • John said that I saved his life with my water and company, but I'm not sure that's true. I know he would have made it to Mizpah without me, but I do understand his sentiment. There have been so many times on my hike where I felt I just couldn't take another step, but invariably another hiker would come along and my spirits would be lifted, allowing me continue on. I was just paying it forward!
  • Mizpah is a fairly large hut and I arrived around 3:30, which is a bit early to ask for work-for-stay. Nevertheless, croo member Margaret told me I could wash dishes for my say, which I did for 90 minutes. This is longer than most jobs, but I kept washing and she never told me to stop. I was happy to put in the extra work for a guaranteed meal, because I was starving!
  • While we were waiting for the guests to finish eating (the croo and thru-hikers eat after the dishes are washed), Indiana and played a quick game of chess. I say quick, because he handily beat the pants off of me.
  • Dinner was delicious and I ended up scrapping the bowls clean.
  • Indiana's work was to have a Q&A session with the paying guests after dinner. He asked if I wanted to join him and we delivered what I thought was an informative and humorous presentation to a packed house. It was a fun job, and made me long for the day that I'll be able to talk with my students at George School and my kids' classmates at Buckingham Friends School.
  • After our presentation, a couple from Maine offered to put me up in their home after I summit Katahdin and then drive me to Bangor so I can get public transportation home! I was so pleased and surprised by their kind offer, and at this point I haven't a clue how I'm getting home. So it's nice to have made this contact!
  • The clouds cleared off for a while last night, so much so that I was able to see the moon. The last celestial body I saw were the stars in West Hartford. The clear sky brought with it a drop in temperature. I'm hoping tomorrow's hike over the Presidential Range will be clear and sunny, for the views are supposed to be spectacular.
  • There was spotty cell communication near US 302. There was good cell strength at Mizpah Hut, but no data.
  • Indiana and I thought we did a pretty good job with our thru-hiker presentation so we asked Margaret (one of the croo members) to write us a note to give to the croo at Madison saying that we gave a decent talk to a packed house and suggested that Madison allow us to stay if we give the same talk there.
  • I slept on the floor at the hut with Indiana and P-Squared, who also worked off their stay. No other thru-hikers were here, however, because there was an AMC campsite adjacent to the hut.


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • Be positive. Don't be anxious. Don't dwell on how hard a particular section of the Trail well be - just do it. Hike in the present.


Droid Phone Notes: The PEG is still solid green. I charged my phone from 26% to 100% using my iSound charger. Afterward two of the charger's four LEDs were illuminated indicating that the charger has between 25% and 50% of its battery remaining.


Photos:


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Day 136. An easy 12-mile day to Zealand Hut and Ethan Pond in the drizzle

Day 136. An easy 12-mile day to Zealand Hut and Ethan Pond in the drizzle

Date: July 26, 2012

Day number: 136

Wake info: 0524 @ Galehead Hut

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 1824.1 mile @ 0635h at Galehead Hut

Pain scale AM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 7

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 3

Start weather: Cool, drizzle, overcast, breezy, 50s. Rain is predicted.


End MM & TOD: 1835.9 mile @ 1556h at Ethan Pond Shelter

Approximate miles covered today: 12.0 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 1

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 7

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 4

End weather: Overcast, cloudy, gentle breeze, cool, low 60s. Rain is predicted for tonight.


Resting time: 2:43 (almost all of that was at Zealand Hut for lunch)

Where slept: floor @ Ethan Pond Shelter

Bedtime: In bed @ 1901h to journal. Asleep by 2040!

Money spent: $6 (lunch of bread and soup. I did work-for-stay at the shelter. )

Resupply: no


Trail conditions: Going up and down South Twin Mtn was steep and rocky and slow, but after that the Trail was not so bad. A few steep and rocky spots. After Zealand Hut the Trail was wonderful, especially for the first 2.5 miles, which were picturesque, flat, and fast, with grand views. After the trail to Thoreau Falls the AT became more rocky and rooty with a slight uphill climb, but in general it was pretty easy hiking. There was some nice hiking along a stream! Here the Trail was a little boggy, but the puncheons helped.


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • Surprisingly my boots are staying dry in the drizzle and generally wet conditions. Thus is even true for the boot with the rip in the top. I'm going to miss this pair of boots when I get my new ones on Sunday.

Liters of water consumed: 7 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 6 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 37 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 0

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits: 2

Number of mountain summits: 2

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 1

Number of times I've fallen: 1 (just your run-of-the-mill slip and fall. No injuries)

Number of bugs swallowed: 0

Number and location of showers: 0


Songs playing in my head:


  • Stronger - ??? (not the Kelly Clarkson song)
  • Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
  • Daniel - Elton John
  • Express Yourself - Madonna
  • Louie, Louie - The Kingsmen


Happenings at home: Unknown - no cell strength. I imagine that they are busy packing for our rendezvous.


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): Ham Bone. Dream Time. Nitrous Oxide. All Smiles, Hawk, Wiffleball, Blues, Peeper, & Gumpy. Indiana. A young SOBO couple but didn't catch their names. Caleb (the nice caretaker at Ethan Pond Shelter). Johannes (at the shelter).


Trail Magic: The cook at the Zealand Hut gave me the cinnamon bread leftover from this morning to eat with my soup! Work-for-stay at Ethan Pond Shelter.


Flora: Blueberries! But seeing how the only berries on the bushes were just before being ripe, I assume All Smiles picked the bushes clean when he cane through am hour ago! Beautiful conifer forests.


Fauna: I looked hard for moose, for I saw a number of signs they were near, but did not see the creature.


Vistas: Mt Guyot! Zeacliff Ridge! Zealand Falls Hut.


Attractions: Zealand Falls Hut. Zealand Falls. Ethan Pond.


State of body: I'm feeling really well. Calves are a little sore, but nothing terrible.


State of mind: I'm positive and confident. Feeling great mentally! Happy.


Notes:


  • I just learned that P-Squared has no sleeping bag and very little warm gear. He has a hammock but no real way to stay warm. He's not a young kid and should know better than to enter the Whites ill equipped. He was hypodermic a couple of nights ago that we had the big thunderstorm. I sure hope I don't read about him in the paper. Hawk told me that the high temperature - the high - on Mt Washington yesterday was 38F! The wind chill brought it down to 25F! You can't mess around in these unforgiving mountains!
  • The climb and descent to Zealand Hut was rocky not too bad and not too steep.
  • Zealand Hut was small but a cozy respite from the rain and drizzle. I paid $5 for the "bottomless" AYCE soup because I'm running out of food, especially lunches. The cook gave me the cinnamon bread leftover from this morning. Magic!
  • The hike from Zealand to Ethan Pond was very lovely and relatively easy. (The first 2.5 miles from the shelter were super easy with excellent views. This is an easy hike for beginners or families with children.
  • Caleb, the nice caretaker at Ethan Pond Shelter, allowed me to weed the invasive garlic mustard plant from the bed in front of the shelter in lieu of paying the $8 camp fee. What a bargain!
  • While the shelter itself has much to be desired, Ethan Pond is picturesque, beautiful, and placid.
  • I was happy to stop early despite it being an easy day. I could have hiked a couple more miles down to Crawford Notch and stealth camped somewhere near the Saco River, but rain is predicted for tonight and I don't relish carrying a wet tarp up Mt Mitchell tomorrow. I hope to stay at Mitzpah Hut tomorrow and Madison Hut on Saturday, so staying here sets me up nicely for the next three days whose mileages will be 9, 12, and 8, respectively. I should be in Pinkham Notch by noon on Sunday to greet the family!
  • There was no cell signal after leaving Galehead Hut this morning.
  • At the shelter there was a group of nice and polite youngsters from Farm and Wilderness Camp from Vermont. Over Finney Johannes and I answered the kids' questions about our thru-hikes. It was an enjoyable and fun interaction for me.
  • I lay in the shelter and journaled for an hour after my weeding chores were done. I then cooked and ate dinner and journaled until I fell asleep.
  • I have the shelter all to myself tonight.
  • Caleb played banjo after dinner. I love hearing spontaneous music at the shelters at sunset. It is one of the things I will miss most about the AT.


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • The granite rocks of the Whites are not as slippery when wet as the porous rocks of Vermont are.


Droid Phone Notes: The PEG is still solid green. I charged my phone from 47% to 100% using my iSound charger. Afterward two of the charger's four LEDs were illuminated indicating that the charger has between 25% and 50% of its battery remaining.


Photos:


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Day 135. A sunny but windy day along Franconia Ridge and up Garfield

Day 135. A sunny but windy day along Franconia Ridge and up Garfield

Date: July 25, 2012

Day number: 135

Wake info: 0801h @ Liberty Spring Campsite

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 1813.8 mile @ 0948h at Liberty Spring Campsite

Pain scale AM (1-10): 1

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 8

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 2

Start weather: Partly cloudy, very windy with strong gusts, cold, upper 40s.


End MM & TOD: 1824.1 mile @ 1814h at Galehead Hut

Approximate miles covered today: 10.6 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 9

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 2

End weather: Mostly sunny, cool, low 60s, breezy, great hiking weather.


Resting time: 1:15

Where slept: floor of dining room @ Galehead Hut

Bedtime: In bed at 2200h to journal. Asleep by 0015h.

Money spent: $0

Resupply: no


Trail conditions: Rocky and slow. A lot of boulder hopping and rock scrambling. Many portions were steep. Today was hard on the knees. For 0.2 miles after the Garfield Ridge Campsite the AT and a stream were one. This was a steep, rocky, and obviously wet part that had to be taken very carefully.


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • I'm running low of fuel for my stove. I forgot to fill it when I was in Lincoln and I hope I have enough to last me until I meet the family.

Liters of water consumed: 8 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 13 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 41 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 0

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits: 4 (Little Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette, Garfield)

Number of mountain summits: 4

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 2

Number of times I've fallen: 0

Number of bugs swallowed: 0

Number and location of showers: 0


Songs playing in my head:


  • Billionaire - Kayne West
  • Emotional Rescue - Rolling Stones


Happenings at home: Unknown.


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): All Smiles, Blues, Wiffleball, Hawk, Gumpy & Peeper. (Thinking they were ahead of me, I was surprised to see them getting water at Liberty Spring. They took a zero in Lincoln last night.) Kite Runner (the only SOBO I saw today. Flint & Philly Steve. Hambone. Indiana. P Squared (haven't seen him in a while). The two guys from Israel who stayed at Liberty Spring last night. A ton of day hikers!


Trail Magic: Being able to sleep on the floor of Galehead Hut despite not having work for stay. The croo did give us a huge amount of leftover cake!


Flora: Spruce and balsam fir.


Fauna: None


Vistas: Oh, my! Vistas nearly the entire day! For two miles all along Franconia Ridge there was nothing but views! When I hit the ridge I was socked in a thick cloud bank, but soon the sun came through and the views were breathtaking and expansive. Also on Mt Garfield the view was spectacular, but there was no ridge walk.


Attractions: Franconia Ridge!


State of body: I'm feeling great! Tired each night but nothing hurts except for my callus along the outside of my right heel. I commented to Blues Clues that I've never been so stiff and yet so simultaneously flexible in my life.


State of mind: I'm feeling heat mentally, too! Today's hike was a difficult but beautiful one, filled with great views and wonderful people. It was nice to hike in and among friendly thru-hikers all day!


Notes:


  • The wind howled all night long, but I was cozy and warm in my hammock with my winter sleeping bag and I slept like a log. I guess I needed the rest for I slept until 8:00!
  • Although it was cold this morning, it definitely did not drop below freezing last night.
  • The winds along Franconia Ridge and especially on top of Mt Lafayette were amazing! A scientific research team was there and measured the sustained gusts to be between 60 and 75 knots! I had to walk while leaning sideways into the wind to keep from being blown over. I was nearly toppled over a number of times - it was AWESOME! A challenge, but great fun ad well!
  • I was lucky that I got off to a late start thus morning. If I had left on time, Franconia Ridge would have been socked in the entire time I was on it. Luckily, it was cloudy for only part of my day and beautiful for the rest.
  • There were so many day hikers out enjoying the views on Franconia Ridge. This surprised me seeing how it was a Wednesday.
  • The family has definitely got to make this difficult but rewarding hike with me one day!
  • The flat-looking portion of trail between Mt Garfield and Galehead Hut isn't flat, but rather had many small ups and downs.
  • I particularly enjoyed hiking and talking with Blues up and down Mt Garfield. Wiffleball, Blues, and I came down the path/stream together after Garfield Ridge Shelter and we were laughing at the absurdity of such a steep, wet hike. Wiffleball joked that he wished we could cover ourselves in bubble wrap and just bounce down the mountain. Earlier today I commented that I fantasized about designing a hiker airbag system like the ones used by NASA to get the Martian rovers to the planet's surface.
  • There were ten thru-hikers at the hut tonight and only three of them were granted work-for-stay, which included a free meal. The rest of us were allowed to stay the night on the dining room floor, but super was not included. So we cooked our meals outside on the rocks, while the paying guests ate the delicious-smelling food. Afterward, however, the croo had heaping amounts of leftover cake that we made quick work of!
  • Tomorrow's hike starts of with a tough climb, but it should be easy after that. The weather may make it more of a challenge, however. Yesterday the forecast was calling for good weather for the remainder of the well, but the word we are getting now is that rain, thunderstorms, and cold temperatures are predicted for the next two days. There is a lot of exposed ridgeline hiking over the next couple of days, which can't (shouldn't) be done in bad weather. Not in the Whites at any rate! So a lot of us with deadlines are growing anxious knowing we can't afford the luxury of waiting out the storm. So we are examining other options that involve bad weather routes.


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • I knew my miles were going to decrease in the Whites, but I didn't appreciate how much my hiking speed was going to be affected. A 3.0 mph day is a long gone memory. A 2.5 mph pace is a distant memory. Even a 2.0 mph pace is unheard of. I dream of a 1.5 mph pace but 1.3 mph has been my average hiking speed the last few days. Everyone seems shocked by how long it takes us to go even shirt distances.


Droid Phone Notes: The PEG's LED was still green and had not gone to blinking. I charged the phone using the iSound charger to bring my phone from 10% to 100%. The iSound started with 3 of 4 blue LEDs illuminated and finished with 3 illuminated! The phone was asleep for part of the charge and I journaled during some of the charging time.


Photos:


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