Sunday, August 12, 2012

This may be my last post.

Hi all! I am doing well in Monson, Maine - the last trail town on the AT. This area of the country is wild and remote, so posting to my blog has not been possible. I'm sorry.

I'm about 115 miles from finishing. Today I enter the 100-mile Wilderness and then Katahdin! I came into town limping on an injured left foot. I didn't do anything precipitous to cause the injury, it just hurts to stand on it. I guess hiking 2,000 miles is taking it's toll. There's no visible sign that there's anything wrong, it's not discolored or swollen, the bones on top of the foot just hurt when I stand up and occasionally the area throbs. If it were raining I wouldn't hesitate to take a zero, but the sun is shining for the first time in days and a number of my friends are heading out today. With so few miles left to cover, it's getting to the point that it is impossible to catch up to someone ahead. A number of people I don't really care for are in town and taking zeros, and I don't relish the idea of summiting Katahdin with them. I don't think one day of rest will help much, so I'm going to give it a shot. I am HUNGRY to finish! Wish me luck!

I assume this will be the last chance I have to communicate with you before finishing. I'm still enjoying myself, but I'm ready to put the finishing touches on this thing and be home. All of us are!

Thank you all for your support through your actions, messages, encouragements, and love! There is no way I would be where I am without you all!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 142. An unemotional goodbye to the Whites in weird weather

Day 142. An unemotional goodbye to the Whites in weird weather

Date: August 1, 2012

Day number: 142

Wake info: 0528h @ Carter Notch Hut

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 1871.0 mile @ 0710h at Carter Notch Hut

Pain scale AM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 8

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 2

Start weather: Pleasant, 60s, clear, calm, gorgeous!


End MM & TOD: 1884.0 mile @ 1818h at Rattle River Shelter

Approximate miles covered today: 13.2 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 3

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 8 (not bad for being soaking wet!)

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 5

End weather: Pleasant, 70s, clear, calm, gorgeous! The problem was in between the gorgeous bookends there was four hours of constant and heavy rain.


Resting time: 2:20

Where slept: hammock @ Rattle River Shelter

Bedtime: In the hammock @ 2055h to journal. Asleep by 2315h.

Money spent: $0

Resupply: no


Trail conditions:


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • My eyeglasses fog up in the rain.

Liters of water consumed: 8 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 15 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 43 lbs

Number of river fords: 1

Number of paved road X-ings: 0

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits: 5

Number of mountain summits: 4

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 4

Number of times I've fallen: 2 (Just a couple of slips and falls. I'm amazed I didn't fall more often! I had many close calls for falls that could have ended badly!)

Number of bugs swallowed: 0

Number and location of showers: 0


Songs playing in my head:


  • Coming Up - Paul McCartney & Wings
  • 1812 Overture - Tchaikovsky
  • Summon the Heros (Olympics theme song) - John Williams
  • Toxic - Britney Spears


Happenings at home: Kathleen mailed my driver's license, insurance card, credit/debit card, and cash to my next resupply location. (I left my Ziploc wallet in the pants Kathleen brought me a couple if days ago.) Josie is practicing her cooking skills, getting ready for her competition thus weekend. (She made a bleu cheese hamburger that was so good it "put Archer in a comma."


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): Haystack, Silver Surfer (SOBO), Stilts (SOBO). Fetch (Tipsy is off for a few days recovering from a bad sunshine-induced reaction to giardia medicine.) A bunch of southbound day hikers. A group of nice, but inexperienced high school campers at the shelter.


Trail Magic: None.


Flora: Frasier firs as far as the eye can see. Hardwoods on the north side of Moriah Mtn. Maples. Birch.


Fauna: Red squirrels. A precocious and brazen mouse. A precocious and brazen chipmunk at the shelter. Frogs.


Vistas: Lots. Carter Dome was very nice. South Carter Mtn. Middle Carter Mtn. North Carter Mtn (but by then I was socked in.)


Attractions: Rattle River is nice and clean with a good swimming hole by the shelter.


State of body: My knees are beaten up and sore. Both knees are swollen and tight, because of the hard miles on the rocks and perhaps I haven't been dining enough water. During the last few miles of today's hike, my right big toe felt like a hot spot was developing, but when I inspected my feet they looked fine.


State of mind: Trying hard to stay positive in wet clothes. I actually had a good day despite the rain and falling short on my mileage goal.


Notes:


  • I ate cold oatmeal, packed up, and then did my chores for the hut: taking out the dead mice caught in last night's traps and sweeping the dining room floor. Silver Surfer and Stilts asked me some questions about the Whites and the hut system, and then I hit the Trail, ready for a long, tough day. At least the weather looks good!
  • This is an important day; if I can do a big-mile day, I gave a chance of making the rendezvous with Dad.
  • The climb up Carter's Dome wasn't bad and I made surprisingly good time. The top looked like a moonscape - if you ignored the trees to the side and the black flies, that is. And the view from there was a nice one. The day remains exquisite and the temperature is cool and great for hiking! I'm hoping the rest of the day follows suit.
  • In studying my topo map I saw that descent on the blue blazed trail to Zeta Pass was much less steep than the AT and I highly recommend it.
  • Zeta Pass was a lovely place with a bench to eat my second breakfast. However, there was a precocious mouse that would try everything to steal my food.
  • The Trail between Zeta Pass and Imp Campsite was a nice traverse with the exception of the steep, slow, and rocky descent from North Carter Mtn.
  • It rained for four hours, greatly slowing my progress. I didn't make the big-mile day I had hoped to. I need to start thinking about other options for Dad's visit.
  • I thought I'd go into Gorham, stay at the inexpensive Hikers Paradise hostel, dry out, do laundry, and get done much needed rest. But as I was heading down a side trail to town, I thought to check to make sure I had my money. I'm not sure what promoted me to look, but I'm glad I did, fir my cash, ID, issuance card, and credit card were all gone! In a panic I called Kathleen to check my pockets of the pants I wore while I was with them thus past weekend. Luckily they were all there in my little Ziploc bag! She tried to locate a Western Union in Gorham to wire some money but couldn't find one. So no hostel for me, but at least my money is located. Kathleen put it in the mail to be delivered at the same place that my next box is. It is going to be tricky picking it up without ID, however!
  • My new boots are soaking wet. Fortunately, when I arrived at the shelter there was a large group of high school campers who had built a fire that I used to dry my socks and attempt to dry out my boots and liners. I was go grateful that I didn't mind not having a spot in the shelter.
  • The last two miles of the Trail today were unbelievably fantastic! Soft, smooth, wide, with a slight downhill grade. And it paralled streams and the playful Rattle River! I thought I was dreaming! I was able to go full speed again! My legs didn't know what to make of it!
  • I was sad to have to pump water through my filter again four I was spoiled with the huts' ready water supply!
  • I couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to journal. I'm beat. Even a 14-mile day in the Whites is hard!


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • Keep handy a Ziploc baggie with a sliding zipper to store your camera/phone in case of rain. Even in my pants pocket the baggie had kept my phone dry in numerous storms. If nervous, double-bag it.
  • When at camp after a day in the rain, wear your wet clothes as long as possible so your body heat dries them.


My thoughts on the White Mountains:


  • I was thrilled to see the Myakka Mules as I was slacking SOBO in the Whites, but I'm not sure I can catch then before Katahdin. They are four days ahead.
  • The Whites are definitely the most difficult part of the Trail so far, but once on the ridges they are not bad - and the views are so spectacular they really recharge your batteries! The hard part - and they are hard - were the number of long, slow, steep, rocky, and often scary climbs and descents to the ridge, especially at these notches: Kinsman, Carter, and Pinkham. Very difficult in the rain or when wet. Zowie!
  • Mt Washington is a tourist zoo with views that I thought weren't so great. Franconia Ridge, on the other hand, was spectacular!
  • Generally a number of thru-hikers can stay at the huts, but only a couple can get work-for-stay, which includes dinner and breakfast for less than an hour of work (sweeping, washing dishes, cleaning, defrosting refrigerators, lecturing/talking to the guests). Be as polite to the croo as possible and offer to do any type of work. If there is a campground nearby, you may be turned away once they have their requisite workers. Show up at 4:00 to get work. If you arrive after 6:00 they work will probably be gone. You can also work at the campsites in lieu of paying the $8 fee.
  • The food at the huts is usually delicious, but you'll need to add sugar to the oatmeal! You can always buy food during the day fir a few bucks. There is great potable water at each hut. If you need a break, do it at a hut!
  • Cell phone reception is spotty but calls and texts can be made. Excellent reception from Mizpah and Carter. Carter had good data, too. Mt Washington had power, but terrible reception.
  • The cons of staying at the hut are these: you don't get a lot of sleep because you don't get into bed until 9:30 or 10:00, and you have to wake up early (around 5:15) and quickly pack up. If you got work and want to eat breakfast, you won't Getty on the Trail until 8:15 or 8:30 because you have to eat after the guests.


Droid Phone Notes: I am charging my phone with my iSound charger as journal in my hammock. The phone went from 60% to 100%. The iSound began and ended with three illuminated LEDs.


Photos:


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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 141. So long wonderful family, hello grueling Wildcat Mtn

Day 141. So long wonderful family, hello grueling Wildcat Mtn

Date: July 31, 2012

Day number: 141

Wake info: 0450h @ Will's Inn to blog

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 1864.8 mile @ 1230h at Pinkham Notch

Pain scale AM (1-10): 1

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 6 (sad to see family depart.h

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 2

Start weather: Warm, low 80s, windy, sunny. Fantastic, fantastic weather. A little warm, though.


End MM & TOD: 1871.0 mile @ 1828h at Carter Notch Hut

Approximate miles covered today:   6.5 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 3

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 5

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 2

End weather: Sunny, warm, 70s, breezy. A glorious weather day!


Resting time: 1:20

Where slept: dining room floor @ Carter Notch Hut

Bedtime: 2215h

Money spent: $0

Resupply: no


Trail conditions: Steep and rocky with lots of climbing! There were some flat spots too.


Issues with Equipment and Clothing:


  • None

Liters of water consumed: 6 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 7 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 45 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 1

Number of road miles: 0

Number of named mountain summits: 5

Number of mountain summits: 3

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 4

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
  • The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow - from the musical, "Annie"
  • I Did it My Way - Frank Sinatra
  • Isn't She Lovely - Stevie Wonder
  • Hazy Shade of Winter - The Bangles


Happenings at home: The family is making a 9-hour drive home. They arrived safely.


Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): Archer, Josie, and Kathleen. Instigator & Expeditor taking a zero at the Lodge. A few SOBOs and a bunch of southbound section and day hikers. At the hut: Stilts (SOBO), Silver Surfer (SOBO), Haystack (NOBO).


Trail Magic: Kathleen made me a lunch to go.


Flora: Birch. Fir.


Fauna: Beautiful garter snake sunning on a rock. Red Squirrel.

 
Vistas: Several good ones, especially from Peak D.

 
Attractions: Carter Notch Hut!

  
State of body: My knees are sore and beginning to hurt on the descents.


State of mind: Sad to see the family drive away, but motivated to finish this trail!

 
Notes:  


  • This morning I asked Archer if he was OK with my being gone for so long. He said that he was fine and that it, "gave the summer a special uniqueness." I just love that boy! He always says just the thing to cheer me up!
  • Archer helped me pack my backpack and move some files around on my Droid while Kathleen and Josie went to the Post Office to mail my next resupply box to Rangely, ME and a post card to Josie's sixth grade teacher. I can't believe the kids are in the 6th and 8th grades!
  • It was sad once again to say goodbye to my family, but I was so happy and pleased that they drove all this way to see me! This goodbye was the easiest because in just a few weeks I'll be home for good!
  • The lodge at Pinkham Notch had setting wifi, but I couldn't get it to upload my last the blog posts. So I had to post without the images. Archer's haircut will have to be unveiled later.
  • The climb up to Wildcat Peak D was as step and difficult as the one out of Crawford Notch! It was a significant hand-over-fist climb with a few dicey portions that would nit be good for folks who were afraid of heights! I wasn't really in the mood to climb such a steep rock face, but looking back at the view of the Presidentials I felt proud for making it over them without much issue, which motivated me to push on today. My attitude brightened and I settled in for the long climb.
  • Near the top of Wildcat Peak D was a gondola that brought tourists 2,062 feet from the parking lot to the 4,062-foot summit where they took photos and then rode back to their cars. Knowing that I have a couple hundred miles of hard climbs like this ahead of me, I didn't feel superior to them; rather I envied them! I'd love to be carried up just one of these mountains!
  • From Peak D I called Nathan, a former student of mine who, along with three other former students of mine (Paul, Jake, and Ryan), wanted to hike with me before his college cranked up. But I didn't get the message until I was out of the Whites and by then it was too late for them. I was pleased that they wanted to make the tine and effort to share this experience with me.
  • I also phoned two of my colleagues (Tom H. and Michael E.) who also expressed a desire to meet up with me in Maine. I hope that we are able to make a connection!
  • After reaching Wildcat Peak D the Trail eased up. There were still difficult sections, but nothing to difficult or crazy. Even the descent to the hut was a relatively easy one!
  • I was looking forward to staying the night at Carter Notch Hut, for it was nestled in a lovely valley near two pretty ponds. However, there were only two guests at the hut and the croo there wouldn't let me stay because they didn't want thru-hikers to outnumber the guests. I thought this was ridiculous because they already allowed three thru-hikers to stay. Why not bend the rules a tiny bit more and let me stay? I told them I didn't need food, just a place to lay my head. I even said I'd stay away until lights out and would be gone before the guests awoke, but they wouldn't have it. What's really ludicrous is that they allowed me stay at the hut as long as I wanted. I'm not sure what the rule is supposed accomplish. I could stay while everyone was awake, but once everyone was asleep and unconscious my presence could no longer be tolerated. I've really had wonderful experiences with all the huts, so it's too bad that this one had to be my last experience.
  • So I cooked and blogged at the hut until dark, and was about to set up my hammock in a nearby stealth site. (I was bound and determined not to set up camp far away because the hut was the only water for five miles in any direction.) But just as I was leaving, Pat, one of the hut's croo, said that I could stay if I sweep the floor in the morning. Sweet! Now I have a good feeling about the hut system again!
  • I need to make a quick getaway in the morning if I'm going to make my rendezvous with Dad, Gy, and Douglas in a week. I gotta have a big-mile day tomorrow and for that I'll need a lot of hiking time!


Lessons learned/confirmed today:


  • Be positive. Stay positive.
  • Resist the urge to lash out at the croo if they don't let you stay. Be polite and don't act like you deserve a spot, and chances are you'll receive satisfaction.


Droid Phone Notes: I used the iSound charger to bring my phone's battery from 74% to 100% while I blogged. The illuminated blue LEDs went from four to three.

 
Photos:

 


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