Sunday, July 31, 2005

Lonesome Pond Hut 31Jul05 Day45 Sunday

Last night I was up a little later than I intended. Mostly because some people refused to go to bed. So I joined them in some stargazing. There was a spectacular shooting star that night. I also got a latter start then I would normally get but the croo was great and I really had a good time there. The 1 mile climb back up to the trail was a little tougher than I remember it being when going down. I ran into Niko, Moosetracks and Reef and they were surprised to have passed me. Since they didn't pass me again I assume they stopped somewhere in Franconia Notch.

I found out that I had just missed a large group of sobo's. They moved on to Kinsman pond to stay with Dingle and came back down for food and fun. I had the best time this night in a long time. The croo loved them so much from their last stay they let them stay in the bunks and are feeding them as well. Puck and Bouie were a part of the group as well as three other people I didn't know. We played speed scrabble and were introduced to "The Diary". Some girl had left her diary at one of the huts and it was quite the read. She wrote about her sex life, mall shopping and other side lines to her sex life. She signed her later entries "xoxo ps I love Dave". We all decided to sign our registry entries like that.


Saturday, July 30, 2005

Greenleaf Hut 30Jul05 Day 44 Saturday

Today was a long day. I did about 15 miles. From Zealand hut to Galehead was 7 miles and I blew through that like it was nothing. Since I was there so early I decided I had time and energy to go the 7.7 miles. It would have been fine if it also wasn't one of the roughest sections in this area. I did slightly better that 1 mile an hour. I did get to the hut before 6:00 so I had tome to relax before supper. The problem is that the hut is located in an alpine zone and it is quite cool up here. Since my arrival I have been very cold and shivering. I had most of my clothes on and will likely sleep with most of them on to stay warm. IT was worth the trip though as the croo here is really entertaining. They dressed up in costumes to entertain the guests at supper and they sang a lullaby to the few in the dining room before lights out. I do find the days longer when I stay at huts as 9:30 in lights out and 6:30 is wake up time. Since I arrived late, I will be doing a morning work rather than evening work. I prefer the envening work as it lets me leave when I want in the morning. This will be a change. This morning, the Zealand croo gave me pancakes before I leaft and I slathered them in maple syrup and wild blueberries. If there are pancakes tomorrow, I will eat the rest of the blueberries then.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Zealand Falls Hut 29Jul05 Day 43 Friday

I wanted to push for Galehead hut but I was drawn off course by blueberries and a stream. The trail followed a stream for some time and I finally broke down and stopped. I washed up a little and wet my hair. It was nice to fix up my hair again as it was falling apart and was annoying. The half hour was worth it and I could have still made it to the hut until I encountered blueberry row. THe trail follows an old railroad bed and the sides were lined in wild blueberry bushes. I started by just eating them but eventually I dropped my pack and pulled out my nalgene. I just picked for at least an hour or more until I had about 700mL in my bottle. I had some when I got to the hut and shared some with the croo. I may have been able to make Galehead but I decided to call it a day. I am glad I did. THey served up a really good dessert here and I got the recipe. IT was like Reese's Peanut Butter squares.

Today was about 12 miles and I felt good at some points. At least until I started going up hill. It was interesting that from Ripley Falls to Zealand hut, I had done it in the past in 3 easy days and now I can do it in one easy afternoon.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mizpah Springs Hut 28Jul05 Day 42 Thursday

Today was much better weather-wise than yesterday was. I had great views from the summit of Mt. Washington. I mailed out my postcards and journal entries. I forgot to keep the last entry so I am unsure of the day of the week and the day count. Oh well.

I am staying at the huts as they have work for stay. The food is good and it is a roof overhead. I have slept on the dining tables but tonight I get a bunk. It is up in the attic area and I am sharing it with a nobo.

I think I will try for Zealand hut tomorrow. It will be a long day but I know that after Ethan Pond it flattens out. There are only a few huts left then I will have to start working on the food I am carrying.

Part of the reason for my coming out here was to try to change myself for the better. I really don't see any changes in me and I fear it may not happen. I am trying to let go and loosen up but I can't seem to do it. What was good for my career is what keeps me from letting go. I like the control and everything needs to be just so. I have to let go and be more carefree. I feel I am stifling myself but can't stop doing it.

Niko, Moosetracks and Reef are here. They opted to camp out tonight so they could dry out their tents. The weather report claims partly cloudy over the next few days. That should make for nice hiking weather if it doesn't rain.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Madison Spring Hut Day 41 Wednesday

Today was a really tough day. I only did 3 miles but I think they were some of the toughest I’ve done to date. It wasn’t so bad below tree line but above treeline the wind was gusting, blowing very strongly and it was raining/drizzling so the rocks were very slick and slippery. I was an emotional wreck going the last 2 miles as the wind kept knocking me off balance. The rocks being so slippery made for slow going. The mountain was also a hard climb due to the boulder field and the numerous false summits. I finally hooked up with the blue blaze and took that around the summit. Rather than continue over the summit in such horrible conditions. I was really glad to see the hut. I just sat inside and cried. Niko and Moosetracks actually continued on over Washington and in the rain. They unfortunately missed out on a great supper and an absolutely spectacular sunset. I tried to take some pics but am not sure that they will turn out. I am reeling better now that I have warmed up and have good food in me. Havening people around me has been helpful even though I don’t know them. I was really glad to have caught the sunset and have a chance to warm up. I finished “The Other Wind” by Ursula K. LeGuin. It was a very good read and was thin. I swapped it for another book here at Madison. I keep thinking I should do without the weight but I really enjoy reading. I finished it during supper. I was so hungry but had to wait for the paying guests to eat first then the staff then the thru-hikers.

I wrote some postcards today. Since there is a post office on Mt. Washington, I will get stamps and mail them tomorrow. I am not sure if I will stop at Lake of the Clouds Hut on Washington or try for the next hut 4 miles later. I would like to get away from the herd and I would like to catch up to Nico and Moosetracks. They were trying to get to Crawford today but since the weather turned nasty again later in the afternoon, they may not have made it. I think I will just go in to resupply then come back in.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Osgood Tentsite Day 40 Tuesday

I was in Pincham Notch Visitors Center at noon so I got some lunch. I was so full that my hipbelt made my tomach ache. It also didn’t help that I was drinking a lot of water because I was thirsy. While I was at the Visitor’s Center I picked up some postcards. Hopefully I can mail them at the post office on top of Mt. Washington. The goal toda was 11 miles and tomorrow it will be 10 miles. That means up Madison, walk the ridge to Washington then push over to Lake of the Clouds Hut. I really hope they have a work for stay and that the weather is nice.

The wildcat mountains were not as bad as the nobos hyped it to be. The climb down was long but otherwise, nothing we sobos haven’t seen before in Maine. If they found it hard, they are in for a shock when they hit Maine. It did take almost 5 hours to do but I am still slow on cescents.

I managed to swap my finished book at Carter Notch Hut. They had a library of book that are the same at all huts, then a smaller selection of swap books. So I swapped out for a fantasy book by Ursula K. LeGuino. I have never read her before so I am interested in giving her a try.

Kite and Moosetacks pulled in late today after pulling about 18 miles. Seems the herd is behind them but may not show up tonight. If the weather is goo, I may try to pull out very early and push hard to stay ahead. I really don’t want to pay and I really don’t want to stay with them. I may also try to pull ahead of Kite and Moosetracks for a bit too if possible. Otherwise I may just stay with them. I realized I have some mixed feeling going on and KI am not sure whether I want company right now or just some alone time. I do get lots of alone time during the day but maybe a few quiet nights would help. In either case, I feel I really want to get away from the herd.


Monday, July 25, 2005

Carter Notch Hut Day 39 Monday

I thought I would go farter today than I did but in the end there was no point in pushing it. The weather was overcast and drizzly, my knees hurt some on the last down hill, and I was tired. I stopped at Carter Notch and did a work for stay. I swept out all 8 cabins. I also got here early enough that I finished my book. I was reading “One Door Away from Heaven” by Dean Koontz. It was a very good read. I am glad to finish so I don’t need to carry it anymore but now I am sad that I don’t have a book to read. I am torn between picking up another book or avoiding the extra weight.

I was doing some stretching today. Something I should do every day but don’t. I did notice some tightness and soreness. The next thing was that toe rises were very easy. My calves are getting quite a workout on the up hill climbs.

I amn acquiring some interesting tan lines. Sitting on top of mountain summits on very sunny days has given my ultra white legs a new colour. Unfortunately I have a sock line, a short line, and a band around the back of my knee from the bandanas. I also have a band across the back of my hands from the strap on my hiking poles, and across my forehead from the bandana. I should peel down a little on summits when I rest.

Tomorrow I will be doing the wildcat range. People say it is difficult and to expect it to take a least 5 hours. Coming down off it will also be hard. I was going to try for Osgood tomorrow so I can summit Washington the next day. Tomorrow will be long both time-wise and distance-wise. Madison will be a difficult climb the next day but it will be a ridge walk to Washington after that. I am going to try to get in and out of here early tomorrow to get to Osgood at a decent time. I also think that the herd is nearby so sites may be at a premium. Although they could have stayed at Imp, I doubt they would have pressed for Pincham.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Imp Shelter Day 38 Sunday

I thought today was going to be longer but decided there was no need or point in pushing. It did mean I had to pay to stay here as there was no work for stay. Today was clear with cotton ball clouds. I could see Mount Washington from the peak today. I hope the weather holds like this so I can enjoy the Summit. It was very windy today which made for a chilly summit break. I was also very cold at camp to the point where I was in pants, long sleeves, wind breaker and socks and while in my sleeping bag. The wind has died down for the night.

The large herd behind me all decided to stay at Rattle River Lean-to and have a big party of some kind. Since no one let me in on the details I decided to press on without them. It may also increase my chances of getting a work for stay at A Hut. I do hope the rest of Rogue Squad catches up at some point because I really enjoyed traveling with them. Maybe it will happen after the whites. I am not sure if I will do a small day and go to Charter or a massive day and go to Osgood. If I press for Osgood, I will then do Washington the next day. My other option could be to Stealth Camp near Pinkham and try to stay at Madison Hut, then push over Washington.

I am still really tired from my early wake up call yesterday. Last night I was still unable to sleep and was up until 11:00 then up during the night. I was lying in my bag on the deck here at the lean-to and may have dozen off but not for long. I hope I get some sleep tonight. Tonight will be a chilly night. Almost makes me regret not bringing that fleece hat for sleeping in. I will just keep my bandana on tonight. That should help against some heat loss. I was able to dry my hammock out when I got to camp. There was no good place at the Hostel to hang it and it was quite wet from yesterday’s rain. Mostly it was the fly and with the still breeze earlier, it dries in no time. I decided against sleeping in it tonight even though I was pulling it out. I think I get a better nights sleep in the shelter as I can sleep on my stomach. It is also less stressful on my knees. The hammock sometimes makes them more sore.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Gorham Day 37 Saturday

My day started with a very rude wake up call at 3:30 this morning. Due to the rain on the fly and other noise, I opted for earplugs. Yet at 3:30 this morning I woke to giggling and laughing from tooth fairy and Frankenfeet. I decided to try to ignore it. The ear plugs stopped none of it, but then the spotlight headlamps came out. Due to my close proximity to the privy, I was caught in the glare of comings and goings. Seems everyone agreed to a 3:30 wake-up time so they could be on the trail by 5:00 to get into town early to hit the Ayce breakfast. Although they were rude and noisy, the upside was there were no bugs at 5:00 sin the morning, the sunrise over the mountain was great and I beat them in town. They all tried to hitch out as one very large group and had some trouble with getting a ride. For once, I got a lift almost right away once I hit the main road. I am staying at the barn hostel which is, surprisingly, a barn.

I met a thru hiker who did the trail several years ago. He is now working as an AMC caretaker at Kinsman Hut. His name is Dingle and on his off days, he likes to come into town and do trail magic in the form of lifts, slackpacking or food drops. He is really nice and gave me some tips on places to stay and things to do. I will have to visit him at Kinsman if I can. I offered to slackpack me 19 miles but I am not sure I can do that in one day. I will take the lift to the trail head at 7:00 tomorrow and thry for Carter Notch Hut and a work for stay. I waould really like to go to Madison the next day as he says Monday nights are Band Night but that would be a long, hard day.

I have been trying new, or rather other, flavours of Ben+Jerry’s ice cream. The New York Super Fudge Chunk was great. Marsha Marsha Marshmallow was pretty good. Right now I am trying chocolate fudge brownie. It is merely okay. The ice cream is fine but the brownies chunks are dry and more frozen than the ice cream. Basically it is a miss.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Trident Coc Tentsite Day 36 Friday

Today I can mark several milestones:

-- I have finally left Maine for New Hampshire. Not that there’s anything wrong with Maine but it is nice to see progress in some fashion.

-- I have completed more than 10% of the trail, almost 300 miles at this point.

-- I feel stronger and seem to be making physical progress. I still have problems with hills and rock hopping but I feel like my experience has improved.

-- I’ve lost some weight. Yeah, I m looking trimmer. My pants don’t fit.

Today started off as a great day especially when I crossed the state line. I thought I would be in really bad shape from the Mahoosuc Notch. I actually wasn’t too badly off. My knees feel good. I did about 12 miles today. The weather turned nasty when I got to Gentien Pond Lean-to. After an hour it seemed to have passed so I moved on. Turns out it hadn’t really finished raining. I did the last 5 miles in 3 hours. Nico pushed on, I hope he found a good site if he doesn’t make ours. Everyone is here at the tentsite. I had a hard time finding a place to set up. A forest of trees and I can’t find two. I ended up setting up next to the privy. There are some lovely aromas wafting out every once in a while.

Tonight is a hammock night. Not only will I have a bad night’s sleep, but I am next to the bathroom on one side and an extremely talkative group. One person in the group can shake the trees with his snoring. I think I will dig out some ear plugs, especially since the trees are still dripping water, onto the tarp.

My shorts are damp from the rain. I am trying to dry them in my sleeping bag. I had heard that if you put damp clothes in the bottom, your body heat will dry them. SinceI will be in town tomorrow, I can always dry my bag then if it doesn’t work. Since my boots will not be dry in the morning, I will just put on wet socks.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Full Goose Lean-To Day 35 Thursday

I was told the trick to hills are little stops and mini-switchbacks. It got me up old speck mtn with less loss of breath, the treat of the day were the wild blueberries on the way up the mountain. And they were nice big ones too. A little on the tart side and massively delicious.

Today was the day to tackle the Mahoosuc Notch. It is about 1 mile of boulders strewn at the bottom of the notch. The goal is to go from one end to the other without killing yourself. It was a very difficult mile and is called the hardest mile on the trail. I had to use my hands to pull myself over or around boulders. Sometimes I had to go under large boulders. Good thing I am using a smaller pack or I would have had to remove it and pull it through. Since the notch is sheltered, it is possible to still see snow and ice. I did see both, and I could feel the cold air coming from the caves. There was also a stream through most of the notch under the rocks, but at one point, it was easily accessible and made for a cold, refreshing treat. It was a warm day but the notch was naturally air-conditioned. It felt really nice. It was also cool and breezy on the summit of old speck. In total it took me about 2 hours to walk 1 mile in the notch. Today was a 12 mile day. Depending on how I feel tomorrow I may to 10-12 miles. The last tentsite near Gorham is a pay site so I will look for another site in the area rather than stay there. Then on to Gorham after that.

It has been mostly warm during the day and cool at night. Good sleeping weather. Too bad I still have trouble sleeping. At least my air-mattress is very comfortable for laying on.

I picked up a deck of cards at the last shelter. They are a little sticky and have a large green smily face on them but they work. Nico and I have been playing card games at night before bed.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Baldpate Mt. Lean-To Day 34 Wednesday

Ended up doing another short day. I got to the top of East Baldpate, sat down and relaxed. Just when I was getting ready to leave, Niko showed up. So I stayed longer and we few a kite on top. His trail name is now Kite. Climbing Bladpate was crazy and steep but the other side was much nicer. I am enjoying these short days but that will change over the next few days. I will be trying to avoid the paysites which will mean longer days or stealth camping. This will go over most of the Whites.

Tonight is much cooler than the last few nights. There is hardly any humidity which has made for nice hiking. Hopefully it will stay cool for a while. It makes for good hiking and sleeping. Tomorrow will also have a lot of climbing so I hope it stays cool. I will try to get to Full Goose Pond Lean-to tomorrow but I will have to take Mahoosuc arm down then Mahoosuc Notch across. there will also be two rather hefty climbs to tackle. I will try to get going earlier to be able to take breaks as needed but still make the 12 miles.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Frye Notch Lean-To Day 33 Tuesday

Today was a short hiking day but it felt much longer. I only had about 5 miles to hike but my pack seemed to weigh me down more than usual. I did remove my stove, fuel bottle, and water filter from my pack. With 5 days of food and some water, my pack is now at approximately 32 lbs. Once I am finished with the book, I will try to make it my last. Other than that, the only way to lose more pack weight would be to carry less food or replace gear.

I only did a small day today for several reasons. Mostly, I wanted the guys to catch up to me but also I really felt excluded from the other group I was travelling with. The fact that it started raining, then thundering was also a good deterrant for moving forward. I think the slower next few days will be nice especially since Mahoosuc Notch is very close.

I have never spent a night to myself at a shelter. It seems there is always at least one other person for company. Today I met some people who were in front of me, according to the registers. They took a few zero days for various reasons and all ended up here today. For 3 people, it was a reunion as they had hiked together before. I was introduced to Cangy Gorp and Black Jack Gum. The Candy Gorp contained Jelly Beans, Skittles, Sweet Tarts and Good&Plentys. The Gum was Black Licorice flavoured and was very good. I can't chew gum for very long as it hurts my jaw since I am not used to it.

I don't think I have been getting enough sleep lately. I find I get very tired early in the night. I then drag around camp for a while waiting for it to be bed time. Then when bedtime does come around, I can't sleep. Bedtime is also early, like when it starts to get dark. This only works because I get up with the sun. Acutally it doesn't work and I have trouble waking up and I can't sleep at night.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Andover Day 32 Monday

The slackpacking today was very nice. It gave me a chance to see which aches and pains are from the trail versus those that are from the pack. Mostly my back and feet pain are from the pack. Knee pain was still there so was likely trail related. I did move easier but still felt clumsy and out of shape. It was 10 miles from road to road and we did it in 6.5 hours. This was a good day to slack and there were dark clouds moving in and thunder. It did start to sprinkle on and off for the last few miles. On the road, the hostel owner was waiting for us with lemonade. Shortly after that, the clouds opened up and dumped. Good thing for the car, but a few people did get caught by the rain. Becuase of the rain, and the longer than expected time to hike, most of us have decided to stay in town another day. It isn't a true zero day since we did hike 10 miles. Tomorrow I will just make for the first shelpter, which is 5.8 miles in. The next day will be short at only 3.5 miles but I think my knees need the rest and I have to learn to take more breaks during the day. I find I just plow through the miles regardless of pain then pay for it later or the next day. Since the next big range is Mahoosuc Notch, a part of the White Mountains, I am going to ease back a bit and try to learn to enjoy myself.

Gorham is the next town stop and hopefully the guys will have caught up to me by then. It will be much more fun staying in town with them. It will also be a new state. I will finally be done with Maine. So far I have completed 257 miles of the trail with 25 miles left of Maine. Although Maine is very beautiful, it has been taking a long time so a change of state will signal forward progress. Also, I will be moving slow through the Whites as every north bounder I have met says it is the most beautiful part of the trail. So I want to enjoy it fully. I will try to work for stay at a few huts but I think mostly I will be camping where ever I can.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Andover Day 31 Sunday

I was going to do a 12 mile day to hall mountain lean-to but instead I did less and am now in Andover. Pinetree was not feeling well so most people helped slack him out then we called for a pickup and all 8 of us ended up in town. At least he is feeling better. Tomorrow we all are going to slack-pack the 10 miles between the two roads, resupply then hike the 4.5 miles to the next shelter. Tomorrow I will get to see how much I can do with a small pack and almost no weight. Tomorrow I will also be adding my stove and water filter plus a few other random items to my bounce box. I think I may just go ahead and buy the alcohol stove from antigravity gear and use that. It is relatively cheap, lightweight and better constructed than the homemade one. The homemade one seems to leak some goo from the sides but otherwise seems to work okay. So I think Iwill switch to the alcohol stove.

I think I have managed to lose about as much weight from my pack that is posslbe weithout going out and buying new gear. In order to make it lighter I would have to replace my pot, sleeping bag and pad, my pack and lose a few other things. Ithink that I am likely at a good point weightwise and I will leave well enough alone. I think my body is getting used to carrying the pack and will adjust to that.

I think I may have over-indulged while in town today. Something I ate for supper didn't agree with me so I was on the throne for a while. I think/hope I work it out. I will not be hiking tomorrow if I am still not well. It is just not wirth it. It may just have been a case of town gut. The body just isn't used to junk anymore but in town that is what is feeding the system. Many hikers get it so this ns not unique but I should pay more attention to waht I eat while on town rest.

My next town stop will be Gorham NH. A change of state plus I will be entering the White Mountains. I will try to take more time in the Whites and between here and Gorham to allow my body some rest since I am not doing a zero day here. I awill most likely zero in Gorham and I do hope that the guy behind me catch up. I think I liked travelling with them better. Today I noticed that everyone is paired off in some way except me. So I feel like a third wheel and stometimes I feel left out. I also think that the guys have more fun. Although, at this hostel, there is a box of clothes to borrow from so all the laundry can be washed. Two guys from the group wore the mumus from the box so we all had a laugh and snapped pics. They claim they will hike in them tomorrow during the slack-pack. We shall see. Iw ould like to see the looks they will receive from the people they meet during the hike. I think that would be really funny.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bemis Mountain Lean-To Day 30 Saturday

The moose kept me up most of the night. I should have got up and checked out what they were doing. Sounded like they were eating in the lake. I did find that the hammock was very low to the ground. It may be because it was the first time used and cords may have stretched. Good thing I set it up high.

I pulled another long day today. About 13 miles and some tough climbs but I did catch up to some of the extended gang. I will have just enough food to take my time pushing out. Tomorrow will be a 12 miler then either a push out that day or an easier next day. I think I will not do another big day so I should only do the 12 miles to the next shelter. Andover is the next town stop. I dont' think town stop will be the same without the guys. I may have to slow down so they can catch up. I have found that I miss their company.

I saw another grouse today. I still haven't got a picture of a moose either. I crossed another bald mountain top and got more sun. I think I should either start using the sunscreen or I should send it home. It was very hot and since there was no wind it was like I was under a broiler.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Little Swift River Campsite Day 29 Friday

I saw a grouse today. Other than that, I just saw the usual flora and fauna that I have been seeing. Today I summitted Saddleback Range which consists of 3 peaks. The skies were clear and cloudless so the views were amazing and impressive. I can see Mt. Washington and Mt. Katadhin from the summit of Saddleback. Most of the ridgeline is above treeline and it was very windy today. I did stop and take some breaks at the 2 major summits. That most likely accoutns fro the sunburn on my arms and neck. Most likely on my face too, but I can't see that.

I pulled a 15.5 mile day in the hopes of catching up with some people. I made it to the tentsite and got to use the new ultralight hammock for the first time. The fly is rectangular which was a little hard to work the first try but otherwise it is good. I found out from a section hiker that my fellow soboers are at the next lean-to 4 miles away. Maybe I will catch them tomorrow at Bemis lean-to. I hope they don't pull a long day.

This was a long day. My knees and feet ache. I took some tylenol to help with some of the pain. Normally I don't take anything but this time I am trying it to see if it helps with the morning aches and stiffness. I did take several nice breaks today and I neven got my boots off but I think it will still be too much. Tomorrow will be shorter but will still be over 10 miles. Hopefully I catch up and the remaining days to Andover are shorter. I have found that although I have had company the last two nights, I miss the people I was travelling with. I hope we become good friends and keep in touch. I actually find that I miss some of their presences at night as they are quite characters. They liven up the lean-to at night.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Poplar Ridge Lean-To Day 28 Thursday

With all the miles I did in the last 2 days, and the ups and down associated with thtme, I am surprised my feet aren't more sore. This is good. It means I am making some progress in getting in shape. My knees to get some pain in them that I am not sure will go away. At least a good nights rest resets most pain or at least replaces it for stiffness. My pack has been causing me trouble as it hurts my shoulders. I have been trying to adjust it all day but it still hurts. I am not sure if it is from existing pain or because of the pack.

I did 11.5 miles with more frequent breaks than I normally do. I think that has been helping in the foot department. It may also be helping in the staying hydrated department too. Every time I want to stop, I look for a nice cool stream then I guzzle cool water during my rest. I also try to rest my feet and shake out the forest floor. Without the gators on, I tend to accumulate a lot of pine needles and leaves in my boots. Unfortunately, the gators makde me hot and sweaty plus I was getting a strange tan only on my knees.

Today was mostly nice. There was some rain but it mostly held off until I hit the shelter. I hope tomorrow it is nice because the views on Saddleback are supposed to be really good. Also because the rocks above treeline were polished smooth by the glaciers and rain will make for very dangerous climbing. I think I will hole up here if it is raining as it is not worth it.

The alcohol stove works well. I have to give it a chance to warm up before I can set the pot on top. Otherwise it smothers the flame. I still am not sure how much fuel to put in or how much I can put in without it leaking. I just dump some in then and more if I need to.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Sugarloaf Day 27 Wednesday

Most of the group left yesterday and the few who arrived yesterday decided to take a zero day. So tonight I am by myself. This hapsn't happened for a while. I don't think I like it. If I had stayed at the campsite or pressed on for a the lean-to I would have had company. Instead, I was told there was an open building on Sugarloaf that had a microwave, electricity, and free long distance. What they didn't tell me is that there is no water and no privy. If it hadn't been so late I would have moved on to the next lean-to. At least I did get a really nice sunset. Hopefully I will get a good sunrise. Since the mist moved in I don't think that will happen. It is alos supposed to rain tomorrow. Iwill leave late and rest at the next lean-to. If the weather remains bad, I may just do a short day and rest. I pushed a little too hard today to get to this place especially coming off a zero day in town.

I got to try out my alcohol stove. I had some trouble keeping it lit and I thought it was the wind. Turns out it was the pot. It was smothering the fire. I had to use two bricks to get the pot off the stove. It seems that once it is really going, I can place the pot directly on the stove without smothering it. I did manage to cook supper on it but I am thinking I will go bck to my old stove. I will continue using the alcohol one just to give it a chance.

Even though I am striving to lose pack weight, I just picked up a book while in Stratton. Most hostels where hikers stay in town have hiker boxes. They are boxes that contain extra or not needed gear, food and various other miscellanous stuff, like books. I just got rid of the last book I was reading and now I have another. It is "One door away from heaven" by Dean Koontz. It is very good so far. I can't wait to finish it.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Stratton update

I am now in Stratton. I have also uploaded some photos. They can be found on flickr. I hope you enjoy them. I had fun getting to them.


The Start

The Start
Originally uploaded by Canadian Loonie.

This is the start of the Appalachian Trail. The journey up was very long and hard. I was hoping for better views but the weather was against me. At least I had some people up at the top who took my photo. One less photo taken at arms length.


Tallest falls on the trail

Tallest falls on the trail
Originally uploaded by Canadian Loonie.

Some of the views on the trail. This is supposed to be the tallest waterfall on the trail. It was really nice until I fell into the stream at the bottom while crossing.


Stratton Day 26 Tuesday

Another town, another zero day. This time I can blame it on my parents. They came down to visit me but on the upside I did get some lighter gear. I will be switching over to an alcohol stove and bleach to treat my water. I did make it to Rangeley and the outfitters but couldn't exchange my leaking platypus. Most people here at the hostel have moved on. Niko and Jon made it in but Stone Passer and Mr. Natural are still out there.

I am not sure my pack is any lighter. Maybe a little weight loss that is made up in food weight. I also have not added water weight yet either. That will add about 4 lbs for 2 liters. I guess only trail time will tell. I will still be carrying my old stove and filter until I get the alcohol stove tested and used to the bleach then I can lose more weight. I also got my crocs so my feet wil be happier.

I uploaded some pics today. I only put two on the blog but the rest are on Flcker. I put a line in the slidebar also. I took quite a few pics. Some are just idfferent angles of the same view.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Stratton Day 25 Monday

Today was not nearly as thought as yesterday was. It was 5 miles to the road with some up but mostly down. It was sad losing all that elevation especially when the mosquitos started biting. I also know that when I leave Stratton tomorrow I will have to make back all that elevation and some in one big push. I will relax today in preparation for tomorrow.

I am staying at a hiker hostel and so are most of the people I was hiking with. I was sad to find out that Rogue Rooster has left the trail. I read her last register entry and she seemed happy with the decision. I hope Stone Passer also gets a chance to read the entry too. He was closer to her than I was. I also found out that alpine, who Stone PAsser was trying to catch up to, has also left the trail. But I did meet Lady Bug and Big Fish. It is very interesting to read other register entries and then meet the people behind them. I read these entries never thinking I will catch up to them. Then they take a few extra zero days or slow days and there they are.

Looks like I will be taking another zero day. Seems everytime I hit town, I take a zero day. I hadn't planned on taking one but my parents insisted on coming down to visit. So I will enjoy a zero day with them. Hopefully I can lighten my pack weight with the stuff they are bringing me. I will be trying out an alcohol stove which weighs about as much as an empty soda can. Probably because it is made from an empty soda can. I will also get a smaller pot and smaller pack. Taking a zero day might give the people behind me a chance to catch up. Ithink I can also catch up to the group I was travelling with sometime, either in Andover or Gorham. It will depend on how fast they start moving and how motivated I am to catch up. It is really nice travelling with a group. There is something to look forward to at camp. I still need to learn to take more breaks which I am moving from lean-to to lean-to. Seems that in the woods there are no good break areas and the summits are cold and windy. Not that bumming around a lean-to is the greatest thing ever but at least there's company.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Horns Pond Lean-To Day 23 Sunday

Today was a tough hike. Since I didn't make Safford Notch, I had to go over Little Bigelow Mt and Mount Bigelow in one day. The elevation gain on little bigelow was small but the elevation gain on Mt. Bigelow was brutal. The last 3 miles were very hard because my feet and knees were so sore. I did take a dip in the pond and washed some of the accumulated mud off my legs. The morning was a little drizzly but eventually it cleared and the sun came out. When I got to the shelter I dried out my hammock fly. I decided to stay in the shelter tonight in an attempt to get a good night's sleep. In the hammock, I am forced to sleep on my back or side, but after the knee pounding I took today I wanted to sleep on my stomach. I am glad for the decision as it has started to rain again. I hope my boots dry out overnight but I don't think they will.

The tallest mountain today was over 4000 ft. While climbing up to the Summit, a helicopter landed on top and some fire marshals got out. There had been a lightening strike earlier so they were checking for fire. The views from the summits were absoltely amazing. I was so happy the sun was out and the views were great. It is such a disappointment to get to a summit and either have no view due to bad weather or no view due to the trees on the summit. In the second case, it is sometimes hard to tell if you are on the summit.

At the last lean-to there were natural, Stone tubs along the river. It is a shame the weather was so bad because I would have liked to have checked them out. The privy at the last lean-to was a two-shitter. I am not sure who would want to share a prvy but the option is available. Here at this site there are two lean-tos and to privy with several tentsites. There are caretakers here too. We sat and talked with them for a while and they are really nice. Seems like a sweet job.

Tomorrow I will be in Stratton. I will stay the night and head out the next day. Hopefully I can get everything done in that time. I think I will take 4 days to get to Rangeley just to take it somewhat easy as it is quite mountainous.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Little Bigelow Lean-To Day 23 Saturday

I was supposed to make for Safford Notch campsite but it was a very rainy night that continued into the day. I got a late start in the hopes it would stop but it didn't. I hope tomorrow is better because I would really like to make the next shelter. That would still get me to Stratton on Monday. I am glad I picked up my raincoat from my bounce box. Wish I had picked up my rainpants so I could keep my pants dry. We are a full shelter. Ther are 6 of the 9 sobo's from the last shelter are here plus a group of nobo's pulled in for the night. I am hammocking again tonight. Hopefully the rain will stop and the fly will dry out.

Looks like nothing much happened today. Since it was raining, I spent most of my time looking down to make sure I wouldn't slip and fall. Due to this, I did have some north bounders come up on me quite suddenly. I did manage 7.3 miles in 4 hours. Tomorrow looks to be about 10 miles with some signifcant elevation gain. I really hope this storm passes before that. Might be another late start tomorrow.


Friday, July 08, 2005

West Carry Pond Lean-To Day 22 Friday

This was a 13.7 mile day wich was hard to do after a zero day. The terrain was relatively flat so I made good time up until I had 2 miles left. The the feet, ankles, and back started to really complain. I am still not in shape for this and really need to try to take more breaks. I was hiking with three other people and it is harder to just stop and take a break. Since they will be going further tomorrow than me, I will not be hiking with them. There are two people here who seem to hike at my pace so I may join them for a bit.

I am in the hammock tonight. The shelter was looking a little crowded and the mosquitos have been very opportunistic so I didn't want more bites. I also figure that I am carrying the damn thing, I better use it.

Tonight there is a really good fire going in the fire pit. I am sitting near the fire in shorts and it is keeping me toasty against the chill that is starting to set in.

the big group I was travelling with has split up. Nico, Stone Passer, and Mr. Natural didn't take the ferry over the Kennebec. Aqua Jon decided to stay at the 3.7 shelter so he could catch a big breakfast at the campgrounds nearby. Tomorrow I will try for Safford Notch Campsite. Maybe more of the group will be there. After that I should be able to get out my Monday. I will stay the night, bounce my box then head for Rangeley. My parents will come down and visit with me. So that will be another zero day.

Tomorrow doesn't look too bad with little bigelow mountain. But Sunday will be Bigelow Mtn which is over 4000 feet. hope my knees are okay with it. I have several camping options along the way so I will stop at each and see how I feel. There is a chance of rain tomorrow which means I may not make the distance. I may also want to keep up with the tooth fairy and MacGyver to get to know them. They seem to hike the same speed as me and also about the same age.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Caratunk Update

Greeting from the wonderfully small town of Caratunk. I just discovered that the town is one main street. The side streets were more like glorified driveways. The town consists of houses and a post office. I am actually staying down the street in the next town called The Forks. There is a micro brewery here and most of the group is liking it. I have hooked up with a group of other people going southbound. For the most part we are keeping pace with each other, but I think that we will soon be spreading out based on fitness. The next 20 miles will be fairly flat and easy but after that we will be entering the Bigalow Range which will be tough going. From there I thing those who are in better shape will move on faster then those who aren't. I am not yet in shape so I may start falling behind. They are a great group and I will miss travelling with them. I may try pushing to keep up. It will all depend on how my feet are doing and if I can lose more pack weight.

I was supposed to take a nice relaxing zero day today at the resort we are staying at. Instead I find myself walking a few miles down the road to the post office to get my bounce box then bounce it on. Then I had to stop at the resupply shop to get more food. In all I think I walked about 4 miles and ended up with about 4 blisters on the sides of my feet from the sandals I was wearing. I will have to tape those up in order to walk tomorrow because I am not taking another zero day. One more day and I will put down roots and not want to leave. My next stop may be Stratton but depending on how fast I am moving and how much food I have, I may just press on for Rangeley. Most of the group will be going there and it seems to be the in place to be. We are also starting to run into more northbounders now. That means the pack must be coming along shortly. The shelters will be crowded and I will likely be sleeping out more. Thats fine as the hammock is really comfortable but I hope it refrains from raining. I really hate breaking down in the rain.

The resort here is the micro brewery and it seems to have it all. They have a hot tub, home brew, a pool, cheap tenting, movies, pool table, great food, and internet. The tenting area is right next to the Kennebec river and the star gazing is great. They also do white water rafting. It would have been cool if we could have gotten in on the action but it seems to be a busy time for them. Maybe some other time.


The Forks Day 21 Thursday

My zero day. A day that is meant to be relaxing and restful. And I go and walk to the post office in sandals and get some right nice blisters. On a good note, they are not on the bottom of my feet. I am staying free at the campgrounds and I got free food today. I will tape them up before leaving. I made it to the post office and more importantly, so did my bounce box. So I took my raincoat out of the box and added teh book I as reading. I just finished it this morning and it was very good. I am glad I read it.

The rest of the gang pulled in today and we found out about the trail magic they received. Since I didn't know if anyone would stop or if I could get a fire going, I chose to move on rather than sit there wet and cold. So that evening someone pulls in with a big pot of spaghetti and pork chops. Lucky buggers.

I resupplied today and I picked up some breakfast bars. Lunch is always a problem as it is hard to find something that is good, easy, light and requires no cooking. I had been just eating random things like granola bars but I thought I would try breakfast bars this time. Breakfast is generally oatmeal and supper is noodle side dishes. Sometimes I add tuna. Most times I have to add curry powder to zip it up some. I still don't have much of an appetite. When I pull into a shelter I am hungry and will munch on something but when supper rolls around a few hours later I am uninterested. I guess my appetite just hasn't kicked in yet. Everyone else has noticed that they have an increased appetite so maybe it will kick in soon. The next 20 miles are relatively smooth and easy but after that are some tough mountains that will be over 4000 feet. I hope the views are good.

The days here have been quite warm. Almost hot yet the nights still get quite cool. In fact it is almost cold at night. We are in cabins made of canvas that have beds. I slept in my sleeping bag under 2 blankets and was cosy but not hot. I didn't want to get up this morning due to the cold. I instead stayed in bed and finished that book. My arm was like an ice cube when I finished, but it was worth it. I ate breakfast and lunch out of my food supply then had some chicken pie at 3 given to me. After that was a pint of ben and jerry's. So I didn't have to spend much on supper. I am trying to watch hhow much I spend. I just dropped some money to get a lighter hammock so I can send the behemoth I am carrying home. That will save about 2 lbs. I think I can then fit everything into my smaller, and lighter pack which will save more weight. I will also go with my smaller pot, lighter rain gear and hopefully an alcohol stove. These stoves are really light but have only 2 settings, on and off. Basically it is a reservoir you fill with denatured alcohol and you light it. But they are basically made of of a soda can. So they are very light.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Caratunk -- The Forks Day 20

I was supposed to stop and camp at Pleasant Pond Lean-to, but when I got there I was cold, wet and miserable. It started raining at some point during the mountain climb. Rather than stop and hole up, I foolishly pressed on. I figured another 6 miles would be fine if it gets me a shower and bed. Although, since there appears to be no laundromat, the shower is moot if I have to put dirty clothes on. I am sharing a 2 person ten-cabin with another thr-hiker. Turns out the place we would have stayed has plumbing problems so he drove us down to the brewery campgrounds. They have a swimming pool, hot tub, laundry, and hot showers. Iwill do some laundry tomorrow, resupply and find out if they have a work for food. I will also go to the post office and see if my bounce box is here. I would like tmy raincoat and a few other things but I am not sure I really need them or not. I think I will take the coat and giude book then bounce the rest. I will leave Friday to catch the 9:00 Ferry ride. The Kennebec River is fordable but dangerous so the official route has always been a ferry. The ferry is provided free but runs limited hours. I will not try to ford the river but will catch the ferry at 9:00, the earliest time possible.

I had a chance to soak my feet and knees in the hot tub. Although the water was not very hot, it still felt good. I notice I tend to stay up late when I am in town compared to on the trail. Lately, I walke up with the sun and go to bed as it is setting. So tonight was line of the first chances I have had to stargaze. There was some cloud cover but still good views. I could only recognize the Big Dipper but there were lots of stars to see. I also saw a few fireflies as I was walking back from the lodge house. I will read more of "The Wedding" to try to finish it while I can. I would like to lose the weight. I will also be another map lighter. I have finished 4 of 7 of the Maine Maps.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bald Mtn Lean-To Day 19

The appalachian trail is quite tought at times. Maybe it's just Maine but there are some very rugged sections here. Sometimes it seems due to the limited maintenance the trail received. Yet today the trail took me over 2 fords, several swampy areas and under a rocky overhang. It was quite unnerving to step under this massive rock slab that was balancing there on another large rock. There were two of these ovehangs with a deep crevice. I stopped to snap some photos but I don't know if they will convey just how impressive it was.

Today was a 10 mile day. There were some impressive views from the summit of Moxie Bald Mtn. It was hazy but otherwise clear. We are getting rain with thunder and lightening. I was going to hammock again but decided I didn't want to deal with a wet tarp in the morning. Also, I sent my rain gear to Caratunk to cut down on weight.

I had a change to go for a swim when I hit the lean-to. So I grabbed my towel and went down to the stream. Access was a little hard but I was looking forward to the dip. Unfortunately the water was quite cold. Too cold for me to fully submerge. So instead I had a spash bath then struck my head in to wet my hair.

Today was mostly a good day. My feet took me the 8 miles to the summit with almost no pain. It was the last 2 miles down hill that seemed to cause most pain. I didn't use my gators today and there was almost no foot pain but there was forest floor litter in the bottom of my boots. Guess I can handle flat and up but not down when it comes to my feet. I do still have trouble going uphill much faster than a snail's crawl.

I started reading "The Wedding" my Nicholas Sparks. He also wrote "The Notebook" which is like the prequel. The book is very good so far and hard to put down. While this is normally a good thing, out here in the shelter, it comes across as asocial. I will have to finish it quickly or hold off and limit my reading time.


Monday, July 04, 2005

3 mi S of Horseshoe Canyon Lean-To 4 Jul 05 Day 18 Monday

I am back on the trail today. I am really missing town life right now. I had a hard time walking the 9 mi to the first lean-to. Everyone decided to walk 3 more miles to an unmanned camp site so I pressed on. I am glad I did. Tomorrow there is a behemoth of a mountain to summit. It will only be a 10 mi day but the climb will be hard. 2 more nights of camping gets us to Caratunk. I am not sure I can keep up with this group yet, I don't want to fall behind. They are great people and fun to camp with.

I had 2 river to ford today. After moving my barefoot way slowly across the first ford, a really nice lady gave me her sandals. The second ford was much easier and it was nice to wear something other than boots around camp.

The days have been very warm and sometimes down right hot but the evenings have been clear and cool. In fact, it feels almost cold. But there has been good star gazing. Iam going ot sleep before dark so I only catch a few stars. I would like to get up at midnight and really go stargazing but it is cold out of the sleeping bag and I have trouble motivating myself.

The campsite we are staying at has a rock beach just a few yards away where we forded the river. We made a fire pit and had a great fire going. No marshmallows but one kid had bisquick so we made doughboys or bannock. They didn't always cook through all the way, or they threatened to fall off the stick but they were really good.

I was having a really hard day today as most things still hurt. I had hoped that a zero day for rest would help but I don't know if it did. My feet still get very sore, my knee was being a bother and my pack was causing breathing pain. I removed my gators at the lean-to then did 3 more miles relatively pain free. So I wonder if the gators are part of the problem. I will try a gator free day tomorrow to find out.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Shaw's -- Monson 3 Jul 05 Day 17 Sunday

Today was a nice relaxing day. I didn't really have to worry about anything. At least on the hiking side of things. I did have to remember to go to the BBQ place to do dishes. Mostly today was all about relaxing and letting my mind and body heal some. I am happier for it too. My pack weight is now at ~35lbs. I washed dishes to help with the cost of the stay here, and I talked to my parents. All good things. I will be hitting the trail tomorrow with a bunch of people and most of us will stay at the first shelter in.

My parents will be coming down to meet me in Stratton. I aksed if my father could make me an alcohol stove. These things are so small and light compared to the behemoth I am now carrying so I should be able to drop more pack weight. I think I will ask them to bring my smaller, lighter pack. And try to shove everything in that. I am not sure I will stay in Caratunk. Only if my mail drop doesn't make it. I think I will resupply, let my parents know when I will be in Stratton, then dash back out. I will be zeroing in Stratton with my parents.

I did about 2h15min of work at the BBQ place and made $15. Not only that, but they are such nice people, they stuffed me full of food. I had some absolutely wonderful fresh squeezed lemon juice, great pulled pork, corn of the cob, and the best strawberry shortcake. I think the trail is making me appreciate things more, especially food. I must have had about 4 glasses of milk or chocolate milk since I got here. I do think I massively overate as my stomach ached for awhile afterwards. But my metabolism seems to be ramping up due to the hiking. I have lost some weight. Mostly the weight I put on while at home eating my mother's good eats.

I did start my period today and will have to deal with that while on the trail. I am looking forward to being back out there but not with this added bonus. Hopefully a lighter pack will keep me happy. Or at least keep my feet happy.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Shaw's -- Monson 2 July 05 Day 16 Saturday

I made it out. Finally! I ws really happy to see the road. These last 3 miles of wilderness seemed to take forever yet I made good time. I didn't really try very hard to hitch out. I just started walking. Eventually I got picked up and it turns out it was the owner of Shaw's boarding house, the place I had planned on staying. So that worked out really well. Turns out he was just dropping Moose Charmer back off to continue her hike. So here at Shaw's is most of the group I had been travelling with and Stone Passer also made it in today, too. That was great. It was nice to see him again.

I borrowed some clothes from the hiker box so I could get all my laundry washed. I think I will keep the boxer shorts. I also got a shower and food and I feel really good right now. I found out you can work for food or cash at the BBQ restaurant doing dishes. So I will be doing that tomorrow at 2:00. There will also be a fireworks display tomorrow night that a bunch of us will catch and I will join in on that too.

There are 2 girls here who have th4e untralight asyno hammock. Since they didn't know how to set it up I offered to show them. Also so I could check it out. I sent more weight on to Caratunk and now I am considering trading out my hammock for the ultralight. Althought I don't like how thin and flimsy it is, the weight and size savings is worth it. Imay still want to keep the extra large fly but that will defeat the weight loss problem. I will call home tomorrow and ask if my father can make me an alcohol stove so I can try it and replace my heavy behemoth. I am hoping I have lost enough weight to make hiking the next section more enjoyable.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Leeman Brooke Lean-To 1 Jul 05 Day 15 Friday

I was going to try to push out of the wilderness today but my feet are still giving me trouble. It seems they just do not like walking several miles in the woods. So for now I am just getting to the next lean-to and evaluating how I feel. Also, although I am only 3 miles to the highway, maybe it is cheaper for me to stay here than stay in town. I may still do a zero day in Monson but I am not sure.

I am still having a hard time with everything. I am physically sore and tired and this affects my mental state a lot. In the morning I feel good and strong but after an hour of hills, I am screaming inside in pain. I will make Monson tomorrow and I will set up a bounce box with some of the non-essentials and see how non-essential they really are. I will also put the hammock in the bounce box and do lean-to's for the time being just to lighten the load. Maybe with a lighter load I will be able to enjoy myself more often while getting in shape.

I had to do two fords today. One supposed to be a tought one and the othe reasier. Rather than get my boots wet again, I just went barefoot and although it was slow going, I made it across fine. The water was deep enough that the bottom of my shorts got wet but they were still damp from my washing them. The second crossing looked like a simple rock hopper. I got about halfway across then misstepped and took a tumble. It is really hard to hop to your feet with a heavy pack pulling you off balance. Needless to say I was soaked and had no idea how wet stuff in my pack was. I pushed on to the shelter, wet. When I got here I found that most things had survived the dunking including my sleeping bad and clothes which are in the bottom copartment. The toilet paper is a soggy wad though and I have to pee. Also, I was really distraught this morning when it appeared as if my fuel bottle walked off. After asking around i concluded it was gone and I was going to have to push out. Well, I was thrilled to find it in the bottom of my bag meaning I could stay and relay rather than force myself further.

Stone Pass was going ot try for Leeman today but it is getting late so I suspect he stopped at Wilson or maybe is camping somewhere along the way. There were a few mice sties along the trail. So I am sharing the shelter with Hanibal who had stayed with Stone Passer last night. Maybe I will see him in Monson tomorrow3 or the next, if I zero.

I am in dry, warm and somewhat clean clothes right now and I feel somewhat better. There was a book in the shelter called "the ghost with trembling wings" which is like Douglas Adams' "Last Chance." So far it is a good read so I will hold on to it until I am done.