|Buffalo Bobby (Rob Yerike) and Trolley Stop (Roger Gorey) entering Maine|
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28 - Day 188 - Mile 2135.0 - Logging Road - the White House Landing Wilderness Camps.
Wonderful, beautiful, spectacular morning on Jo-Mary lake. The sunrise on the lake was something to behold.
We set off on a short (7 mile) hike to this oasis in the wilderness to spend the day eating & relaxing as well as resupplying a bit. This place is terrific. Right on a big lake. When you get to a boat dock off the trail you blow a horn and the owner comes to get you in a boat and takes you and gear over to the compound.
We took a shower, hand washed our clothes, had a big hamburger for lunch and homemade pizza for dinner. This afternoon was sunny and warm so I spent an hour or so out in the sun resting by the lake.
Life is good!!!
Tomorrow, after breakfast, we start to tackle the last 46 miles. Rain may be coming in so that could slow us down a bit. We have just finished 4 perfect weather days so certainly can't complain.
Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
When scheduling things on the Trail, it is the Trail that decides whether it will work or not, not the hikers. Dad (Trolley Stop) has been in contact, and they have pushed thier end date out to October 3rd, or 4th. Lets keep sending the positive vibes there way!
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Up very early and started our day with a difficult ford right off the bat. The day improved dramatically weather wise and trail wise.
We had a very pleasant 16 mile hike and are only 52 miles from finishing but our date to summit Katahdin may need to slip a day or so depending on our ability to cover these last miles and get a decent day to summit.
We're camped at a beautiful site tonight right on lower Jo Mary Lake.
My battery is almost gone so I'll have to elaborate more when I get recharged.
Monday, September 26 - Day 186 - Mile 2113.2 - East Branch Lean-to
Great campsite last night. We did have a very heavy dew so the tents were soaked but still a great rest.
We started climbing right away up West Peak, then Hay Mountain and finally White Cap Mountain. Only about a 1,200' elevation gain overall but lots of ups & downs. Once we were over White Cap there was a long down to the next shelter, which had many rock steps in place that Double Check thought may have been done years ago by the CCC.
We were then treated to some level walking and one of the most beautiful forest areas we've seen. It really had an enchanted feel to it. It was so nice we took a break just to enjoy it.
We hit the shelter we're at tonight early this afternoon. There's a ford right after this and some climbs with no camping mentioned for miles so Double Check suggested we call it a day.
It's been a great afternoon. Easy access to water, beautiful shelter and nice tenting areas. This gave us time to dry our stuff out, get something to eat and take a nap before dinner. It's now only 3:45 PM, everything is done and I'm ready for a nice afternoon rest. Only 3.3 more miles and we'll be halfway through the 100 Mile Wilderness. More important this first half, going north, is reported to be the toughest part. We'll see over the next few days.
6:30 - Dinners done. Fun speaking with all the young hikers still coming through. Most have chosen to do the ford tonight and camp somewhere on the other side of the river.
It was a beautiful evening but the sun is already down and night is falling.
Hoping for a nice day again tomorrow. We hope to be able to do 16 miles to Antlers Campsite. That will be a big day for us but the elevations look good. More news on that tomorrow.
Double check in the 100 mile wood
Trolley stop in the 100 mile wood
Buffalo Bobby in the 100 mile wood
The enchanted forest
Sunday, September 25 - Day 185 - Mile 2104.2 - Sidney Tappan Campsite
Today begins my 7th month on the trail and the last full week of hiking before finishing.
Despite a crowded shelter last night, once I was in my sleeping bag, I went right to sleep and was very comfortable. Packing this morning was a challenge with all the wet stuff all over and, of course, putting on wet clothes, socks & boots is always a bit difficult. Thankfully it wasn't cold.
Our hike started with a steep down right out of the shelter area and through bogs with broken or sunken bog boards. My already wet boots and socks were completely soaked within 5 minutes of starting. This was followed by an unbelievable steep downward rock scramble. Thankfully Buffalo Bobby found his way through because the way was not marked. Then we traveled over the usual rock, root and bog filled trail until our one ford of the day at the West Branch Pleasant River. This was a pretty wide river crossing and definitely a boots off ford.
Then, miraculously, the trail turned decent for the next five miles or so. After one more slip and a boot soaking in a stream just before Carl A. Newhall Lean-to we took a break. Two miles later we were at this campsite, which after last nights shelter, seems like paradise.
We all cooked together and are all in our tents for the night at 6:15. Other hikers will likely come in but were done.
Thoughts now turn to this last week or so. Only a few more nights to sleep in our tents and days if hiking. It's hard to believe that we've been out here 6 months and hiked over 2,000 miles. I've never been to Maine before but now I've walked over 200 miles into the interior.
Lots of fun fun things to think about as I fall asleep.
Love, peace, joy & Hope,
Saturday, September 24 - Day 184 - Mile 2092.5 - Chairback Gap Lean-to
Lots of rain this morning.
Today marks my last day of 6 months of hiking. (Double Check marked his 6th month anniversary on April 21st and Buffalo Bobby will mark his on March 28th). Six months ago today I was at Jill & Crag's still sorting through stuff in preparation for my trip, visiting a doctor because an allergy was bugging me and getting a haircut. The next morning Jane, Jill & Jack accompanied me to the visitors center to sign in and begin my trek up the approach trail. I only made it a little over 5 miles before I thought I had had enough and checked into the Hike Inn. My pack was unbalanced, I didn't have much of a clue about backpacking or the myriad things a thru hiker should know. It rained for six and a half days and I wasn't smart enough to come in out of the rain. Initially I did 5 or 6 mile days, finished happy but worn out.
Today I can get up at 5:00 AM, pack in the dark, hike and climb all day without breathing hard and enjoy an evening at camp, write my blog and not go into dreamland until 7:00 PM or so. The body is an amazing machine that works well and comes up to the task when challenged. I don't believe I've ever worked so hard or enjoyed it more.
Over the next week or so we'll wrap up this adventure and slowly return to our "normal" lives, family and friends, likely changed in ways we can't anticipate now.
Tonight, in the first half of the "100 Mile Wilderness", we are now jammed in this shelter looking forward to the promised easier terrain about 25 miles ahead and some sun tomorrow. The "Victory March". as Circuit Rider calls it, does have it's challenges. In fairness he did allude to some difficulties in the first half of the wilderness walk..and they're here.
Today was quite nasty weather wise thus the crowded shelter. We had heavy rain overnight and steady rain all morning tapering off to light rain and then a fine mist tonight. The trail today was particularly difficult due to wet rocks & roots, endless deep bogs, broken bog boards and steep climbs. It was a long tough day with short mileage.
The weather promises to be sunny tomorrow. Perhaps we'll have a chance to dry out. Today reminded me of my first week on the trail with all these wet conditions. We've been spoiled with pretty good weather while actually hiking so a day like today is that much harder.
Anyway we're chipping away at the final 100 miles.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Friday, September 23 - Day 183 - Mile 2081.6 - no change - ZERO at Shaws on Monson, ME
Once again we shouldn't listen to the weather report. Today is beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky but we still took a ZERO to get reenergized.
Another wonderful breakfast of blueberry pancakes, eggs over easy, bacon, sausage, etc., etc.
Then a bit of cleaning & sorting gear, calling home and now I'm at the Monson Library. Not exactly what you would picture a library like but they have everything I need including an Internet connection. Looks like the SPOT is still working. I don't set it off generally if we're staying indoors somewhere but I see it shows our last few locations between Harrison's and Monson. When we stop tomorrow night in the 100 mile wilderness I'll set it off again.
It's been fun staying in Monson. Choices are easy since there's only one of everything...restaurant, general store, gas station and antique shop. This town is truly on the edge of of the wilderness many miles from anywhere but a key milestone for thru hikers. As they say..."it's not the end of the Earth but you can see it from here".
I saw an update from Brother of the Wind. He went through the Mahoosic Notch in early Maine, had the same opinion of the experience that I did and decided to come to Monson and hike to Katahdin before the weather gets worse. He'll do the missed sections when he can. He left here Sept 18th so we only missed him by a couple of days. Many hikers are getting creative to finish portions of their hike. (Remember... access to Katahdin ends October 15th. Maybe earlier if the weather turns bad).
The L.E.G. had a good lunch out in the hostels yard and tonight we'll go to the bluegrass jam at the country store. It's interesting that bluegrass and country music, that I associate with the South, is so big up here. This is likely the big event of the weekend so I glad we're here to enjoy it.
The jam session wad terrific. Like stepping back into the 50's. They did all the standards. Not really bluegrass but lots of fun. They had a fiddle, banjo, bass, 3 guitars, harmonica, spoons & good singers.
Now we're back doing final prep for the morning. After breakfast we'll be shuttled back to the point we started from yesterday. First thing we'll face is a good climb.
Once again it's beyond hiker midnight so it's off to sleep.
Foggy morning. Hopefully this will burn off quickly. After today's hike we'll be just under 100 miles remaining.
It's early and we're packed just waiting for breakfast. The way breakfast works is that it's an all you can eat, but they ask you specify 1,2 or 3 portions initially so food doesn't get wasted.
After breakfast we'll head north to a 1 mile trail access about 15 trail miles from here and hike south back to Monson.
More news later.
Breakfast was fabulous. French Toast, eggs to order, home fries, bacon, sausage, juice & coffee.
We then headed out for our slack pack of the first 15 miles of the "100 Mile Wilderness".
I had a great day with Double Check. Buffalo Bobby decided to do an alternate hike and meet up with us at the end of the day. The day was foggy with light rain or threatening rain all day. As we finished our hike the weather really turned miserable with cold and rain into this evening.
We had several river crossings today but only two that required we take our boots off and ford. We both made the crossings with no problems.
I did manage to slip and land in a mud bog today. No damage done but I was covered with mud. I was very happy to be coming back to the hostel where I could take a shower and clean my clothes & gear. With all the mud bogs we've slogged through since entering Vermont, this was bound to happen.
We've heard that the first half of the 100 Mile Wilderness was rough with lots of rocks, roots, bogs, ups, downs and generally tough hiking. The first 15 miles have lived up to the reputation. We arrived back at the hostel tired, dirty, hungry and ready to take a break but happy to have done the hike.
Buffalo Bobby took care of the wash and we set out for dinner. Another great dinner and once again met Hopper and Bismarck, who were staying at the laundry/pub hostel, along with a host of others we know.
Today I met Peru, a lovely girl I last saw at the Captain's Hiker Feast. Her claim to fame is that she's hiked the whole trail in a dress. I also saw PC, a girl I've seen on and off since the first week of the hike Double Check also met some old friends this morning. This is one of the advantages of hiking south I do believe this will be (really) our last slack pack. Not many days left.
Tomorrow we're going to likely take a zero. The weather is predicted to be bad and we don't need to be in the woods in the rain if we can help it. Should the weather change we may take another look at hiking but likely not.
If we're in town tomorrow night there's a bluegrass jam at the local general store that we all will go to. Should be fun.
Saturday we should be back on track to finish. Final date is still uncertain but looks like very early October depending on weather conditions at Katahdin.
Well the pint of Ben & Jerry's is finished so it must be time to turn in.
Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
Wonderful long sleep/rest in camp last night. Up early in cold weather. Needed both mittens & gloves to get going.
We only had 9 miles to do into Monson so it went quick and we were at the road to hitch at about noon. Only a few minutes after we arrived a fellow, Ed, dropped a couple of folks off and offered to take us into town right to the hostel, Shaws, we're staying at.
Shaws is a great place to stay. We'll get breakfast in the morning and may slack pack the first 15 miles of the 100 mile wilderness. It'll be a long day with a mile added to get to the trail and 4 fords but worth a try.
Tonight we went to a local place for dinner that was a combination laundry & pub. Doesn't sound too inviting but it actually was good. We all had pot roast dinners that were huge and delicious. We couldn't even do dessert.
Unfortunately phone service remains inconsistent, going from good to none at will, so it's still hard to communicate with the outside world.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Great hike today. Almost 16 miles which included two fords and the usual wet conditions on the trail.
The day started off overcast and chilly. We did get a bit of rain but not enough to spoil the day. The sun even came out for a bit this afternoon.
Tonight is our last night in the woods before hitting Monson, ME. We'll clean up and resupply for the 100 mole wilderness which we should be well into by this weekend.
It's hard to believe we've made it this far.
The shelter area tonight is much nicer than we had in our stealth camp last evening. It's only 4:00 PM so we have lots of time to rest and cook before bedtime. It's getting dark before 7:00 PM so we're getting to bed earlier & earlier. Evidently 6 minutes earlier each night.
I'm going to start my dinner and then relax and prepare for our hike into Monson on the morning.
|Tenting at Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to Area|
The cabin at Harrison's was great. That's likely as close to living like a north woodsman as I'm going to get.
The breakfast was awesome. 12 pancakes with strawberries, apples and blueberries baked in topped with powdered sugar & maple syrup along with link sausages, eggs to order, juice & coffee. There was nothing left as we set out for our hike.
The day started out very cold. I wore my fleece and down jacket as we started our hike. After about a half hour I took off the down jacket but still needed the fleece. By the time we arrived at the point to cross the Kennebec River the fleece came off and the day wad glorious. Not a cloud in the sky and the river was calm.
Six of us arrived at the same time to catch Hillbilly Dave and his red canoe. He could take us two at a time with our gear and Buffalo Bobby and me were last with me paddling and Hillbilly Dave steering.
This 100 yards or so of river will be the only section of the trail that we won't have walked. The river was 8' deep in places so there was no way to ford even if we wanted to.
The hike was wonderful today mostly because of the beautiful weather. We still had lots of mud/bogs to slog through and a pretty steep 1,000' climb but overall a great hike.
We did just over 15 miles...a good day...and had to ford a river just before finding a campsite. (The water was cold but likely a bit less so than it would be in the morning. We do have two river crossings to ford tomorrow.
Our tent sites are scattered and very tight. We're just stealth camping near the trail.
Just under 140 miles to go! Today, September 19th, had been our target finishing goal based on average mileage done before hurricane Irene and the rough terrain of New Hampshire and Maine shattered that target. Hopefully we're now less than two weeks away if all continues to go well,
Peace, joy, love & happiness,
|Breakfast at Harrison's|
|Trolley Stop and Double Check wait to cross the Kennebec River|
Sunday, September 18 - Day 178 - Mile 2026.2 - Harrison's Pierce Pond Camps
Temperature in the 20's this morning. Frost on everything.
We're back under our own steam once again with full packs. After one last breakfast in Stratton we caught our shuttle back to the trailhead and we started our 170 mile "Victory March". One hiker called this section the trail of tears because so many are sad to see this adventure coming to an end. At this point we're trying to take it easy and enjoy this last piece but at the same time I'm ready to finish and get back to family & friends. Six months is a long time to be away. The trail has been very good to us. There may be a bit of adjustment as we reenter the real world, especially where food is concerned, but I'm ready.
Great hike today over muddy/bogs but relatively easy terrain for Maine. The weather is even nicer than yesterday, as the sun warmed us up, so another perfect hiking day. Almost 14 miles.
This camp is another Little Abner type place but the cabins are great. Mine is fronted by a river and is very comfortable. No electric or heat but it does have a wood stove that I'm sitting by now, to take the chill off, and a Coleman lantern.
Tomorrow morning we'll be served a 12 pancake breakfast with eggs done to order, bacon, juice and coffee. That should power us for at least the morning.
I'll let you know how our canoe trip over the Kennebec goes on my next update.
It's very cold outside and starting to get dark so I think I'll get to bed.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Saturday, September 17 - Day 177 - Mile 2012.3 - Long Falls Dam Road
Absolutely beautiful day in Maine. This had to be one of the best hikes of the trip. The trail was good, the views were amazing and we were finished and on our way back to town for dinner by 4:00 PM.
We had a wonderful dinner with appetizers, a couple of beers and fried cheese cake & ice cream with blueberry sauce for dessert. We then resupplied once more for the next few days and returned to the bunk house for our last night here.
Tonight the place is more than full and we have a lot to do to get ready to set out in the morning with out full packs again.
Quick summary of what's left to do in the last 170 miles or so:
Tomorrow we hope to get to a campground a few miles before the Kennebec River where we'll catch a canoe to cross on Monday morning.
Then it will be on to Munson before the end of the week, a ZERO and then start the "100 Mile Wilderness", do another days hike to Katahdin and finally the summit -hopefully on a Class 1 day. Sounds simple, right?
Still no firm date to finish.
Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
Trolley Stop on top of Little Bigelow - Big Bigelow in the background
Trolley Stop on Little Bigelow Peak
Buffalo Bobby & Double Check on Little Bigelow Peak
Double Check explains the purpose of the 2" x 6" white marks on the trail
Emily's picture for Double Check
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Friday, September 16 - Day 176 - Mile 2003.5 - Safford Brook Trail
Today begins my 25th week on the trail and we broke 2,000 miles.
Leisurely start to the day. Up at 5:45 and off to breakfast at 6:45 (Circuit Rider & Sherlock treated) then on to the trailhead for our slack pack. Today we began the Bigelows.
We hiked over South Horn and Bigellow West Peak and Avery Peak. It was very cold today with snow flurries this morning and ice on the mountain tops. The wind was very strong but the views were spectacular and plentiful. The best to date.
Passing the 2,000 mile mark was likely the highlight of the day. We all posed for photos and then moved on to stay warm.
Tonight we went to a barbecue place in Rangeley for diner with Circuit Rider, Sherlock, Sue (the hostel owner) and Sharon (A day hiker) Hopeful and two other hikers were there when we arrived. A very pleasant surprise.
Last night we had this great bunkhouse to ourselves but there's a crowd tonight so it will likely be a bit noisy later than our normal bedtimes.
Although the day was cold the sun came out and warmed us up a bit. I needed a warm pullover all day.
Tomorrow we slack again. Because the trail access is remote we have to hike 2.2 miles before we even get to the trail. We had to do that today as well so we'll have done 4.4 miles that don't count.
All and all today was a great day
Peace Love, & joy,
Friday, September 16, 2011
Good night camping and off early this morning for an overnight stay in Stratton. Right out of the camp site we started a dramatic up for a couple of hours. Rain then set in and we walked in on & off light rain for the rest of our short hike. By 12:15 we were out of the woods waiting for our shuttle to a hostel. First stop was a diner for a late breakfast / lunch. Really good food. We then resupplied and got a shuttle to the bunk house.
The bunk house is one of the nicest on the trail so far. It's a nicely renovated barn with great facilities. It's raining pretty hard now and cold so once again our timing is impeccable getting out of the woods. Can our good fortune hold out for a couple more weeks ? Sure! Keep those prayers coming.
We're watching the weather and the forecast is good, after tonight, until Wednesday.
Emily sent some very cute doctored photos of Guardian, Buffalo Bobby and me. I'll send them to Beth and see if she can work with them to put on the blog.
Tonight we hope to have dinner with Circuit Rider and Sherlock. I think they're slack packing today. News on that later.
7:30 - Sue, the owner of this hostel, is cooking dinner for us all tonight and we've arranged two days of slack packing with her for tomorrow & Saturday. So...the magic continues. We'll be able to spend three nights here out of the woods.
10:21 - Way past hiker midnight but a great diner, fun conversation and homemade blueberry pie. Double Check & I helped Circuit Rider with set up and doing the dishes and we all readied our gear for tomorrow's slack pack.
Forecasted good weather, slack pack and another night in this terrific hostel. Can it get any better on the trail?
Tomorrow we'll break the 2,000 mile mark.
Starting to anticipate our first glimpse of Katahdin later thus month.
Thanks to all who have stayed with us through this journey.
Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
|Guardian as see by Emily|
|Trolley Stop as seen by Emily|
|Buffalo Bobby as seen by Emily|
Had probably one of the best nights sleep in my tent ever last night. I had a site on pine needles that was wonderful. Actually another hiker, Rain Gear, pointed me to it since he was staying in the shelter.
We had a good rain overnight so I woke to a wet tent but a beautiful morning. The weather called for rain today but it must have come in overnight. We had a great hiking day. We did a bit over 14 miles which as you know by now is great for Maine.
I spent a good part if the morning wishing I had a couple of Janel's breakfast sandwiches. Boy, were we spoiled!
The hike was, for the most part straightforward...up and down mountains and through mud bogs. We did have a long rock scramble down at the end of the day followed by a river to be forded. Double Check & Buffalo Bobby were able to rock hop but I took my boots off and forded. Really didn't want to get my boots wet. We had an earlier ford today where we all rock hopped but only because Rain Gear got there before us and was able to point out the wobbly rock that caused him to go in. He was trying to dry his boots when we showed up.
This campsite tonight is excellent. Tent platforms and a fantastic water source only a few yards away.
Got a note from Brother of the Wind that he's back on the trail as of today. We'll check his blog to see how he's doing as he follows behind us.
Tomorrow we hit Stratton to resupply and spend the night.
Life is good!
Up and out early again today. Janel cooked us all breakfast sandwiches. A wonderful send off after a perfect long weekend. Silas even was up to see us off. Nick had us to the trailhead by 6:30 and we started our climb up Saddleback Mountain which took us three hours. We then hiked over The Horn and Saddleback Junior before arriving at the shelter. Buffalo Bobby and I are tenting and Double Check decided to use the shelter. Bugs are no longer an issue so shelters are now more comfortable.
The hike today was full of challenges. Not only big up hill climbs but steep rock scrambles on the downs. There were a couple that, to me, rivaled the Mahoosic notch but they were short.
The weather was good and views were all spectacular 360 degree. We could easily see where we'd been and where we were going.
During today's hike we broke the 90% completion point. We'll also hit the 2000 mile mark sometime this week.
All is good.
|Heading back to the trail|
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Nick and Janel were up and ready for our 6:00 AM departure this morning. Janel got the word that her breakfast sandwiches were terrific so she made extras this morning. Happily fed we headed of to the trailhead.
The trail today was the easiest in Maine to this point. We actually finished over an hour early. While we waited for Nick to pick us up several hikers we knew came out of the woods behind us including Circuit Rider and Sherlock who are always joy to see. We had a lot of fun catching up with them.
Nick arrived right on time and drove us home to another wonderful dinner, desert and assortment of food and snacks for our hike tomorrow. It's going to be hard to leave in the morning especially since we'll have what will likely be the heaviest pack weight of the trip. In addition to all the good stuff Janel & Nick provided we are fully resupplied for the next leg of the hike.
This could not have been a more enjoyable weekend. Not only were the accommodations and company great but the weather was perfect. Don't know how Nick & Jamel arranged even that but after watching these two for a few days there's no doubt anything is possible. We can never thank them, or any of the wonderful folks who have helped us so much, enough.
Circuit Rider gave us great encouragement about the remainder of the trip. He's done that section many times. He said that after the Bigelows the trail becomes a victory march to the end. I'm taking him at his word! We only have about 50 miles before the Bigelows are done but some big climbs between here and there beginning with Saddleback in the morning.
Up, up and away!
Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
|Buffalo Bobby and Double Check at the AT sign on Route 4|
|Trolley Stop and Double Check at the sign|
Monday, September 12, 2011
10th anniversary of 9/11.
The day dawned sunny and cool. (43 degrees) Nick & Janel had a very full day so they gave us their car to use and we were off to resupply.
We had a great time. First a substantial breakfast then to an outfitter and on to Wal-Mart to resupply. I even had my hair cut, which hasn't happened since our visit with Teri & Jon in July.
We covered a lot of territory and enjoyed beautiful landscapes at every turn on this picture postcard day. The area Nick & Janel live in is amazing. We of course stopped at McDonalds for a shake and finished our excursion by visiting Rangeley and another outfitter finishing with a light lunch. Since we didn't hike today there's a good chance we gained a pound or two.
We returned home mid afternoon, packed new supplies and cleaned gear on their front porch in wonderful sunshine.
Janel gave us a tour of leftovers this morning so we were able to take care of ourselves (more or less) for dinner.
The family came back from a reception with even more food for us hungry hikers.
Once again, later in the evening Janel laid out an array of snacks and sandwiches for our slack pack tomorrow that would warm the hearts of any hiker. She even baked a loaf of bread. All of this was after a full family day out with church and an afternoon reception. Whew! Makes hiking look easy.
We've been so comfortable here. I can't imagine anything more that could have been done for us.
Tomorrow we'll have what is likely our last slack pack of the hike from Route 17 to Route 4. Should be a great day. This will then leave us on our own for the final 220 miles of this adventure. I know this leaves all of you following this blog with concerns about our welfare now that our long string of wonderful hosts has finally run out. We're concerned too, but as Buffalo Bobby says...every day can't be perfect. (we've been doing pretty good though for the last 171 days)
With thoughts if that I'll call it a day.
Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
|Our hosts for the great long weekend - Silas, Janel, Adelaid, Cody, and Nick Baser|
|Third pair of boots meet their end|
The perfect hiking day!
Nick drove us to the trailhead this morning on a picture postcard day and we were hiking by 7:30. This is our highest mileage day so far for Maine. It took us until 5:00 PM to hike 13+ miles. We all remembered being able to do 13 miles before lunch...but not in Maine.
Views today were exceptional. The weather is supposed to hold until at least mid week
Once again Janel & Nick had a wonderful dinner waiting for us when we got home. We had actually been dreaming of this since lunch time. A major motivator to finish our hike on time.
We had one ford today, that was pretty easy, plus the usual climbs and downs. The last up was the most challenging. Straight up to route 17.
We all had a wonderful day.
I can't keep my eyes open so I'll sign off.
|Double Check and one of the spectacular Maine views|
Arrived at the trail just before 7:00 AM and began our hike on a chilly overcast morning. The weather forecast was for a sunny day but it was afternoon before the day turned nice.
The first 7 miles of the hike moved along pretty well even though we were splashing through mud all the way. Then we hit our first ford, which was easy, followed by a steep 1,500' climb, a steep decent and another ford that had been reported to be waist high earlier in the week. When we arrived it was only knee deep and refreshing.
Right on the other side of the ford was South Arm Road and Nick was waiting to take us back to his home for a few days. We had a beautiful ride through the Maine countryside and learned a bit about Nick's new position and forestry.
When we arrived we were greeted immediately by Adelaide, Silas & Cody. Janel was very busy preparing dinner.
We unpacked, spread our stuff out on the lawn to dry, took showers and relaxed on the porch before dinner.
Dinner was an extravaganza of beef stroganoff with all the trimmings followed by a wonderful homemade dessert.
After dinner Janel put out an enormous assortment of snacks for us to take on our slack pack tomorrow including homemade bread.
I really enjoyed spending some time with the kids. I had a chance to walk around the block with all three and get introduced to all the shortcuts through neighboring back yards to arrive back home. Adelaide & Silas then accompanied Double Check and me to give us directions to their local store.
Nick is taking us back to the trailhead early in the morning and we'll be doing about a 13 mile hike, which may not sound like much but based on our experience with Maine to date this is pretty ambitious.
Thanks Nick & Janel. Great to be here and have this opportunity. We appreciate this help so much especially at this stage of our hike. The end is almost in sight but a bit of tough terrain is between here & there.
Also waiting here are new boots which I sorely need. This is my fourth pair which should comfortably take me to Katahdin.
From a warm, dry & comfortable bed I bid you all goodnight.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Started out rainy again today but by the time we began our hike (slack pack) the rain had stopped and eventually the sun came out and the afternoon was beautiful.
A couple joined us, Bismarck & Hopper, so the 5 of us hiked together. They're a wonderful couple who are lots of fun to be with.
The hike had It's challenges but overall it was pretty straight forward. We had our first real ford right near the end of our hike. It worked out fine. My boots were soaked but that's part and parcel of hiking the AT.
At the end of our hike the hostel owner, Dave, was waiting to shuttle us back with ice cold lemonade. Nice touch.
Tonight we went to an AYCE pizza buffet that was great. Plenty of pizza, fresh salad and dessert. We'll leave Andover well fed.
Tomorrow we'll hike to South Arm Road where Nick will pick us up for a couple of days of slack packing and a day off on Sunday to resupply which is sorely needed. Buffalo Bobby and I haven't taken a ZERO since Bristol mid August.
|Bismarck and Hopper|
|Double Check takes a break|
|Frye Notch Lean to - took our lunch break here.|
Very rainy day today. Since I tented last night I had a wet time packing up this morning. The hike took off about a half hour earlier then we agreed to but Buffalo Bobby and Double Check waited while I finished packing up. I was enjoying an extra hour & a half of rest when another couple we hiked with today passed by early and called to me in my tent to let me know that the train was moving. I hate it when I don't get the memo.
We hiked less than 5 more miles and were able to take cover at a hostel in Andover. The hike was easy today compared to the last few days. Mostly downhill without too many challenging rock scrambles.
Most of the rest of the day was spent eating at a local diner and dealing with wash and wet gear. I think I'm full for the moment and may skip breakfast before the slack pack.
Tonight the bunk room is full. Tomorrow we will slack pack. Then we'll hit a section the next day which is reported to be impassable due to flooding. This is the last piece before Nick & Janel pick us up. May have to skip that piece if it's closed. News on that when we get past tomorrow.
Double Check and I each knocked off a pint of ice cream, watched a few minutes of TV and we're all ready for some sleep.
Chipping away at Maine.
We had pouring rain all night and into the morning, but a good nights sleep. About 9:00 AM the rain let up enough to allow us to start to hike.
Today we did Mahoosic Notch which is reported to be the toughest section of the entire trail. After the soaking last night it was likely even a bit harder It took Buffalo Bobby, Double Check and me almost 4 hours to cover 1 (one) mile. This stretch was unbelievable. Right after that we were treated to a 2,000' climb straight up. For our 5.1 mile total hike today we averaged 1/2 hour a mile. Quite an introduction to Maine!
All the trails were waterfalls from last nights rain so needless to say our feet were soaked all day. It didn't rain during our hike and we even got a couple of stretches of sunshine. A section of the trail was a small lake and we had to bushwhack to find where the trail picked up.
So...another record tough day of hiking. Oh for the gentle hills of Virginia.
The good news is we made it safely to our campsite tonight and I picked out a great tent platform and once again all is right with the world.
Short mileage continues to wreck havoc with our finish date.
Love, Peace, Hope & Joy,
Good night sleep in the shelter. Woke to rain so the hike started out very wet. The day did improve a bit but rain came back toward the end of our hike and now it's pouring with high winds and the shelter filling up. The temperature is supposed to go into the 40's so it's going to be a cold wet windy night. Good to be dry and in my sleeping bag. I don't know why people would hike until dark and then have to set up and cook.
Double Check joined us for most of our hike today and likely will continue with us to the finish. A new member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
We entered Maine at about 11:00AM, took some photos and took our first steps into Maine. Shortly after that we broke the 1,900 mile point. Big.day.
I'd have to say today's hike was the toughest to date and it was under 10 miles. This seems to be a recurring theme lately. I'm beginning to believe that adage about 60% of the effort comes after 60% of the hike north is done. (We're now about 87% done). The rain, wet rocks, mud and a trail that was full of water and sunken bog boards likely added to the difficulty today.
Here's hoping for a nicer day tomorrow. I know the trail won't be much better but a bit of sunshine would be nice.
It's great to be in Maine!
Love, Peace, Joy & Hope,
|Double Check hits Maine|
|Buffalo Bobby and Trolley Stop at the Maine border|
Up and packed by 7:00. Brother of the Wind headed for his bus and Buffalo Bobby and me hitched to the trailhead. Traffic was light because it was a Sunday but we did get a ride pretty quickly. We stopped at the White Mountain House Hostel, where Bobby had a package, for a bit and I called Nick & Jenel and made tentative plans for a visit and maybe a slack pack early into Maine. As soon as we get closer we'll firm up timing. Today we got pretty muddy so we're already looking forward to that visit.
There was a good climb out of Gorham and the trail was pretty wet. We had good weather most of the day but a thunderstorm rolled in about 3:00 PM and soaked us. Then the trail was very, very wet. No way to keep our feet dry. The rain also made for slick rocks and mud. By the time I got to the shelter my legs were covered with mud. Fortunately there was a pond right out front to clean up a bit.
This was a tough day. Perhaps the effort we put in doing the Whites and Presidentials has caught up with me. I feel great but am ready for some gentler hiking and certainly didn't get it today. May not get much in Maine from the trail profiles I've seen.
Well the immediate good news is I'm nice and dry and warm in my sleeping bag ready for a good nights sleep. Buffalo Bobby has set up his tent and I chose a spot in the shelter. Double Check is right next to me here tonight and will likely hike with us tomorrow.
Big day tomorrow: We leave New Hampshire and enter Maine mid morning. The last of 14 States!
Peace, Love, Joy & Hope,
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Started out in the rain this morning from Lakes of the Clouds Hut but the rain stopped quickly and we needed to shed our rain gear but thick fog followed us for most of the day. I wish I had taken a picture of the capacity crowd at the Hut getting ready with all their gear to face the rain. It was quite a sight.
Once again we met many northbound hikers and an unusually large number of day hikers all enjoying the holiday weekend. I can't imagine how many more may have been out had the weather been nice.
We had lunch at the Mizpah Hut and a section hiker named Joe, who we had met earlier on the trail offered us a ride out of Crawford Notch part way toward Gorham. This was great since the road at Crawford Notch is still impassable going toward North Conway and there would be no traffic to allow us to hitch. He took us to a point about halfway to Gorham and dropped us off in a better position to hitch. Almost immediately a couple from Quebec picked us up and drove us right to a hotel. The hotel was full but they did have one last spot in an adjacent house which was actually an apartment that worked out great for the three of us. It even had a washer & dryer. So we were set.
We had dinner and resupplied. Brother of the Wind will be going home to attend a wedding and Buffalo Bobby and I will continue our trek toward Maine in the morning after taking care of some odds & ends. It will be good to be heading north again. (just under 300 miles to go).
The Whites and Presidentials are done! We're not out of New Hampshire woods yet but I can say this was by far the toughest State to hike. Hope Maine doesn't top this.
Time once again to call it a day.
Love, peace, joy & hope,
Great breakfast at Madison Hut. The Hut is brand new and the nicest by far. We even has lights in the sleeping areas and restrooms.
Set out about 8:00 for Mount Washington. This has likely been the single most anticipated goal of the hike so far for me. Mt. Washington has a reputation for having some of the highest winds and threatening weather of anywhere in the States. The forecast was for thunderstorms (as usual) but the day turned out perfect. The views all the way up were unobstructed and breathtaking.
The hike was 6 miles from the Madison Hut to the top of Mt. Washington. At a rate of 1 mile an hour, over a moonscape like rock field, we arrived about 2:00 PM.
To add to the enjoyment of the day we met Hopeful, Raypan & Swamp Dog of Team Indecision fame and many other hikers we know. We also met many who were hiking North on the trail.
We're now at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut on a spectacular sunny afternoon with again beautiful views. (This hut is visible from the top of Mt. Washington).
Today is certainly a milestone on my hike.
Tomorrow our plan is to hike down to Crawford Notch and catch a ride back to Gorham, spend the night and hike north again on Sunday or perhaps take a day off and start north on Monday. Unfortunately Brother of the Wind has to get off the trail at Crawford Notch to attend a wedding at the Biltmore. He'll be back hiking by mid September, but we'll miss hiking with him. Thanks Brother of the Wind!
Great dinner tonight with the promise of a great starlight night up here but I'll be asleep before dark.
Live to all,
|Buffalo Bobby and Brother of the Wind on the way up Mt. Washington|
|Hopeful and Raypan|
|Lake of the Clouds Hut|
Woke up early on a very cool morning on our camp site on the ski lift platform. This was a great camp site.
We were in the trail by 6:40 facing what was reportedly the toughest decent (or climb) in New Hampshire down to Pinkham Notch. It lived up to it's reputation! It took us three hours to do 3 miles down. Typically downs are quicker then ups but this was a real challenge for me. I haven't checked the seat of my pants yet but I'll bet the material is worn thin from sliding down slab rock for 3 hours.
We arrived at the AMC NH Headquarters about 9:40 but the all-you-can-eat breakfast ended at 8:30. We didn't go hungry. We were able to get sandwiches, fruit, cookies, etc.
While having an early lunch we met Double Check who we hadn't seen since the hurricane. We may meet up with him when we get back to Gorham at the White Mountain Hostel.
While at the AMC we heard from several sources that we could hike to this hut today with no problem time wise. After a relatively easy 5 mile hike to Osgood Tentsite we had a 3 mile 3,000 ' climb up to Madison Peak and then on to the Hut. The last mile to the Hut was indescribable. I'll just leave it at that. We arrived at the Hut about 6:30 PM just in time for dinner. There was a moose standing right at the door to the Hut when we arrived and we were afraid we might spook her but it turns out she's been hanging around the Hut for some time Brother of the Wind got a photo. I'll have to get a copy. Dinner was great but we were beat after an almost 12 hour day of hiking. By desert time Buffalo Bobby was ready to fall asleep at the table. It was well past hikers midnight.
This has likely been the most challenging day of hiking to date. I sure hope we don't top this one.
Now were in our bunks and all the kids here are singing songs in the dining room. Sounds great.
The Huts are occupied mostly by families who drive to an access point and do a couple of days of hiking. Thru hikers are a treat for these folks. Typically there are few thru hikers because of the cost. Tonight we shared a table with two families and they were very interested in our stories and particularly how we got our trail names. I was able to tell some of my jokes to the girls who were 10 or 11.
Tomorrow we tackle Mt Washington finally. Hope the weather holds. We're only doing 7.1 miles so hopefully we'll have a relatively easy day.
Looks like it will be early next week before we get to Maine. New Hampshire has been a bear to hike. I had hoped to be in Maine by today but short mileage days and the hurricane have taken a lot of time My third pair of boots are finished. These rocks have taken there toll. Can't wait to get a new pair Jane has sent ahead to Nick & Janels.
Well, it's 9:20, the Hut is beginning to settle down and I'm beyond ready to sleep.
Peace, love, joy & hope,
Thursday, September 1, 2011
An almost 10 mile hike today. Quite a big day for us hiking in this difficult area.
We has a wonderful if windy night at Imp Shelter Tenting.
We left camp at 7:00 AM and climbed North, Middle & South Carter Mountains. Since we were hiking south we met some old friends such as Scribbles & Pebbles hiking north. Everyone asked about Guardian
We did so much climbing before reaching the hut for lunch that my hiking buddies decided to miss the last peak and take a shortcut trail to the hut. Being the purest that I am I stayed on the AT and climbed to the top and down. I was rewarded with spectacular views. (We had great views all day) We had agreed to meet at the hut and I caught up with them in time to have lunch.
We had all had a full day by then, but we decided to try to get a few more miles in. The Hut Manager told us there were buildings we could stay at here at the ski resort. Unfortunately, when we arrived there was no one here and all the buildings locked. So...we set up our tents on the ski lift platform for the night.
This turned out to be a great spot. We had a picnic table & trash can to use. A rare luxury on the trail.
It's now nearing 8:00 PM and I'm likely the only one of us 3 still awake. Time to get some sleep. Tomorrow is another big day.
|Tenting on a Ski Platform|
|Buffalo Bobby & Brother of the Wind - a Mountain Top experience|
Met Chris, the fellow who's driving us to Gorham this morning at breakfast. After another fine dining experience in North Conway we started off for Gorham bidding the town goodbye. Great place to have been idle for a couple of days.
Chris could not have been more helpful or accommodating. A terrific guy who's also the Banquet & Breakfast Chef at the Hotel Washington.
Upon arriving at the trailhead in Gotham we began our hike south to Crawford Notch over the Presidential's . We didn't get started until 11:00 AM so we only did 8 miles but they were mostly straight up except the first 1 or 2. We also had two rather tough stream crossings. Water was cascading down much of the trail all day from Saturdays storm a d there were a few new blowdowns but overall the trail was in better shape then we expected.
Tonight Brother of the Wind is in his hammock and Buffalo Bobby and me are tenting. This is the first time I've used a tent platform. It's terrific. Perfectly flat and easy to set my tent up on. Very comfortable. This shelter is on a mountain top with great views but it will be cold tonight. There's a good breeze blowing as well. This shelter has one of the nicest water sources as well. Hope this is a sign of things to come this week.
Pretty tired right now so I'll call it a day.