Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Finish update

I summited Mt Katahdin on Saturday 8/27 finishing the AT and completing the triple crown. It was crazy and wonderful and an altogether fantastic day. I'm currently playing tourist in Maine before getting back to the whole work for a living thing. I'm clearly behind but will catch up shortly. Maine was gorgeous and a great end to the trail.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Day 118: Blue and Bemis

8/15: S Arm Rd - Powerlines
Mile: 1942.3 - 1961 (18.7 miles)

I finally really leave the cabin and 4 of us start the climb up Old Blue Mountain. It's 2200 ft up but there's a breeze and going slow it's a good solid climb. Up on top we eat leftover breakfast and head out at separate paces.

It's actually nice trail and I can really walk for a bit. I love the soft pine needle covered ground and am just trying to remember the roots are slick even if they look dry. The it's up Bemis Mountain. Along the ridge is swathes of open granite, great views and lots of ripe blueberries.

At the base of one road I get trail magic and a mile later I get more! Less miles but unexpected snacks are nothing I'm going to be unhappy about.

There are never ending ponds in Maine although they are huge, more lakes than ponds but either way they are awfully pretty. Unfortunately also filled with leeches but beggars can't be choosers.

I head a bit past a shelter and find a perfect flat spot under some power lines. Not the most picturesque but it's flat which is a rarity out here.

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Day 117: Zero at the cabin

8/14: 0 miles

I had every intention of leaving, I really did but my section hiking friend was staying and it was horribly muggy outside so hiking was a loss today. But it was a fantastic day off with great people.

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Day 116: Slacking off

8/13: Slack from S Arm Rd - East B
10 miles

I eat a giant breakfast while it drizzles outside. I'm offered the option to slack pack and I figure why not. Slack packing is honestly just day hiking. I still carry a bunch of my gear but don't have to carry anything but snacks and get picked up at a designated spot. So I can get drenched all day and still eat dinner and enjoy a warm bed.

Almost everyone else at the cabin did the slack the day before so it's just me. I get dropped off and head up into the mist. It's hard to tell when it's really raining, every time the wind blows it feels like it's pouring. Either way it's a wet white out kind of morning. At the top of the first 2000 ft climb I get this awesome view.

But I'm having a great time and it's fun knowing I only have 10 miles to do today.

It's wet and slick and the seasons feel like their changing. There are two big climbs and descents the first half and the descents are of course rocky and slow.

I run into a group of 6 slacking the other direction which is fun and I love the camaraderie even hiking in different directions. The rain continues but the second half of the day is sailing. Easy trail and I'm actually walking not scrambling. Ponds aren't for swimming today but they still are pretty.

It's early afternoon and I get to take a hot shower and relax before we head into town for an all you can eat Italian night. The rain has created a bottle beck of hikers and there are a ton of people around. I'm most excited to see a section hiker I met in Gorham who I happily spend the evening chattering away with.

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Day 115: Andover

8/12: Little Baldpate - Andover (East B Rd)
Mile: 1926.4 - 1932.2 (5.8 miles)

Around 4 am a large group of French folks loudly tromp by and eventually I fall back asleep. Then it's crazy steep slick rock. There are ladders and even rope in one spot. It's one of the first days I actually have to regularly sit on my butt to safely scoot down the mountain.

It's technically downhill but there's enough small climbs that I'm tired and looking forward to town. It's incredibly humid and it's a long start to a day.

Andover actually has two roads you can hitch from so my day will be either 6 or 16 miles. My plan is for 16 miles but I meet a couple day hiking a few minutes before the road and am offered a ride. It starts raining as we drive and I feel more than happy with my decision.

Andover is a one block town. I find a hiker I know and we eat breakfast and debate. It's drizzling and the hostel in town is full. You can camp behind the restaurant but I go out on a limb and call a place called the cabin. It's a great decision. We're picked up and driven a few miles outside of the main town to a lovely cabin with plenty of space just for hikers. It starts pouring and we make ourselves comfortable.

Honey and Bear are our hosts and have been involved in the hiker community forever. They are wonderful folks filled with stories and great cooks to boot.

Dinner is quite the affair with around 8 hikers and a ridiculous amount of food.

The house is as full of history as my hosts.

The photo is of the very first official northbound and southbound hikers on the AT. Pictured in back are Honey and Bear and all around are little things hikers have made and done. Stained glass, wood carving, bird houses you name it. What a special place.

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Day 114: Mahoosuc

8/11: Carlo Col Shelter - Little Baldpate
Mile: 1907.7 - 1926.4 (19 miles)

My first night officially in a shelter is uneventful and I pack up as quietly as I can. There are other people stirring but I have the trail to myself. It's sunny but misty and all of the rock is slick and makes for slow going as I climb up to the goose peaks.

There's a ton of walking on boards and through a bog that I seem to move through like molasses. I think yesterday tired me out more than I thought.

It's a long steep descent down to Mahoosuc Notch and I'm excited but a little nervous, a description of the notch:

I collapse my poles and strap them to pack setting out unsure how fun this will really be.

Can I just say the notch turns out to be absolutely amazing. It's the most fun I've had in trail in I can't remember how long. I feel like I'm buzzing I'm having such a great time. The rocks weren't slick and it's this crazy jumble of bouldering and bouncing that I enjoy so much more than I expected. I would happily repeat the thing but instead it's time to head up Mahoosuc Arm. 1500 ft in a mile it's one of the steepest climbs on the whole AT.

The photo does it no justice. It's crazy steep, more boulder style climbing and straight up sheets of rock using tree roots as handholds. But it's fun and other than being semi exhausted I'm reenergized and having a fantastic day.

The trail heads down last Speck pond and then straight back up Speck Mountain. It's more insane steep and very exposed rock. I would very much not like this in the wet. Up and over its a knee jarring kind of afternoon. Making it all the way down to a parking lot at Grafton Notch I collapse on a rock, take full advantage of a trash can and stare into space for a bit. This hike is exhausting.

I start the climb up Baldpate Mountain it's steep and I'm tired but I've heard it has a ton of steep open rock face trail and with possible rain overnight I really want to get as much of it done as I can.

I make it up and over West Baldpate which is rocky and steep and tiring as expected but the big open dome of the East Peak looms as the sun sets. I scramble to the top in the gorgeous light and think about how much ice truly loved today. I eat blueberries and start the steep descent. It's wide open swathes of rock and it's quick with dry rock but I'm exhausted. When I find a perfect campsite at little Baldpate tucked right below treeline and 10 minutes before dark I can't pass it up. I'll finish the descent in the morning. For now I sit on the rock watching the clouds change colors loving life.

The expected clouds never roll in and instead I'm treated to the Perseid meteor shower, a trade off I'm pretty thrilled with.

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Maine and the Internet aren't the best of friends but everything is going great. Currently sitting in Monson Maine less than 120 miles from the finish. The plan is to head out tomorrow into the hundred mile wilderness. I'll catch up as quick as I can on this thing!

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day 113: Let's walk to Maine

8/10: White Mountain Hostel - Carlo Col Shelter
Mile: 1890.9 - 1907.7 (17.1 miles)

It's so hard to leave the hostel, it's been a cozy fantastic break but Maine calls. After breakfast I planned to leave first thing but of course didn't get out until after 9, I'm still limping but it's much better and off I go.

It's a short road walk out of town and then back to climbing. It's humid climbing the two thousand feet and I'm slow after a few days of hiking but it's not too scramble filled and once up its rolling 500 ft with stops for blueberry bushes and chatting with southbounders.

Clouds are thick but it's dry enough out, fall is even starting to peek out of the forest. Streams are scarce but the day does have a few ponds.

I start leapfrogging with two other hikers that I spent some time with in Gorham and we all commiserate about how surprisingly tough the day has been. The small ups and downs kill in the humidity and the rocks just don't quit. The last climb is Mt Success which takes forever but has some great views. The three of us hobble our way down the mountain.

It's slow and I can hear the whooping well before I make it. And then I've officially made it to Maine, my last state on the AT.

I had thought to get farther tonight but I'm beat and 0.3 miles off trail is water and shelter. It's a huge crowd and a fun end to a long day. Familiar faces, goofy stories and pictures of baby bobcats that another hiker saw today. A great evening.

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