The fun part came shortly afterwards as I was hiking. I had to ford some streams. The first one was about knee deep, I mentally prepared myself, moved my phone from my pants to my shirt pocket, and then proceeded to step into a 3 foot hole and fell forward into the water. It was refreshing in between the “oh shit”s. Well, soaked now. A couple miles later, came to another Ford site. I game planned slightly better to move from stone-to-stone. It would’ve been a lot easier with a pole or stick to maintain two balancing points against the current. But when do I do things the easy way?
As I was getting near the park exit, I ran into a trail stewart (ridge runner) who was responsible for being ambassador for that part of the trail. Super nice guy, retired Navy, he walked with me to the Abol store where I grabbed a Coke (no Dr. Pepper there!) and ate lunch with three NOBOs about to finish, Scooby, Jeeves, and JC Penney. The restaurant had a caveat in the end of their menu regarding their high prices; there’s no electricity in the park, the store and restaurant run off a diesel generator for 16 hours a day. Server was super cute, too.
Then it was time to head into the 100 mile wilderness. The rugged, boggy, and uneven terrain continued. I hit the Hurd Shelter at about 14 miles on the day, and it was already packed. I just kept walking. It was kind of cool because I got to play hopscotch from rock-to-rock across a nice size pool of water. Still, I was dragging. Ate a power bar and then found a nice stone almost in the shape of a bench at the top of a hill where I made my dinner. Felt like a pro.
Then I contemplated cowboy camping (tentless) until the sky contemplated raining. I took off in a hurry to find the first tent-able location I could find. Setup was Rocky, but it got done. And my tent smells really bad. I was sure I dried it out last time I used it…ugh. Hoping it will air dry overnight. Here goes the first night in a tent. And the rain.
On a disappointing note, my Altra Lone Peaks are already peeling away in the front and the insoles are all over the place. At 26 miles. Yes, they’ve been flooded, multiple times, but disappointed for a trail shoe. I have had a previous pair of Paradigms do the insole shuffle, but it was the last 12 hours of Vol-State, that’s almost 300 miles before the issues began. I’m thinking maybe I’ll try super glue on the soles? Only 90 more miles until I get to a store.
|This is what i woke up Day 2, open shelter facing a steady stream. Awesome.|
|Altra disappointing. Front of the shoes peeling with less than 30 miles.|
|Like this in both shoes. That’s fun.|
Day 3: Started strong, although I didn’t sleep much as my tent seemed to collapse around me all night long until (I realized in the morning) that I pulled the tie downs off the back two stakes. Rookie move; need to place the stakes at better angles.
I hit a beautiful shelter for lunch, right on a stream, and rinsed my socks, shoes, gaiters, shirt, and part of my pants. Ate my oatmeal cold, but directly in the packets meaning no mess! Even met this crazy guy that was obsessed with bears and bear attacks; primarily grizzlies, but a nice guy, nonetheless.
After lunch, things spiraled quickly. Just ran out of steam after the first 10 miles it seemed like. I did meet Papa Yeti, friend of the NOBOs I met yesterday. He was out of snacks and hiker hunger was hitting hard. Being the generous guy that I am, I gave him about a pound of trail mix (yes, conveniently that also took a pound out of MY bag). The rest was just a spot up another hill that had a view 16 miles line of sight to Katahdin. That’s great, it only took me 36 miles to get there.
My knees started killing me on the down hill so I called it quits at the next shelter. Had dinner and shortly after came Matt and Ryan (the brothers from the first night). I pass them them early in the morning and they overtake me at night. They’re hoping to escape the wilderness Friday morning. Their game plan actually sounded pretty good, I might try to link up tomorrow.
Still, I’m amazed at what my body consistently does. No training and I’m putting up as many miles as some of the NOBOs coming through. Even thinking back on spring break to Key West. Just enter the grind and go, even when everything is failing you, the legs continue to pump, miraculously. Oh yes, and don’t skip leg day at the gym. 3 days of climbing and my legs are destroyed! Grind, grind, grind.
|This was one of the nice bog crossings, rock-to-rock.|
|Some random nice view up the mountain. Mile 35.7?|
|Almost ready for bed…|
|View in front of Cooper Brook Falls Lean-To|
|Bo says “hi.”|
Oh, and I forgot Bo by a tree. He’s with family now, and he suffered a fatal injury prior to that. Was going to be a slow death; now I’ve got a much sturdier stick, but he hasn’t claimed a name.
|Top of White Cap. Clouds passing over.|
Hubris: No water for two-plus hours in the middle of the day because it was ONLY two miles.
Exhaustion: I don’t know where I am, but I’m sleeping here. And I didn’t set up the tent.
If I survive the night, Monson is the goal for tomorrow.
|Atop Barren Mountain beside the remnants of an old fire tower.|
Day 8: Monson
Tossed and turned most of the night, not unusual, and got moving just after daybreak. The 79 year-old had already moved on, he figured moving one mph, he needed as many hours as possible so he was gone at 5.
I departed shortly afterwards, but the body did not want to go. Slowly got momentum, and then I got to another large ford. Figuring I would try to help my feet, I took off my shoes for the first time and went barefoot across the river holding a rope hanging across. Pretty good current. First step, I slipped and the bottom part of my pack fell in, including my shoes hanging off that side. Fuck. So, my shoes were damp all day, and I just went ahead and kept the troublesome insole out. I felt the roots and rocks a bit more, but better than a bunched up lump right in the middle of my feet. I just walked straight across the next ford, shoes and all, as I had done with the others.
Actually, it was pretty steady moving afterwards. There was some trail magic left out and I managed to get an apple. It was divine. I left the seeds and very little else.
Amusingly, while I stopped for lunch, a group of two man came up to the shelter and they were the friends of the older gentleman from the night before! They are trying to finish next Friday so one of the men can finish his final leg of the AT (done in sections) at Katahdin for his 70th birthday. Age means little. And, I told them how their friend was fighting to stay ahead!
I finally exited the 100 mile wilderness a little after two pm. Second dragon slain. Now to relax for a little bit in Monson. Lakeshore House has been awesome so far; great food, views, and even a rare Friday night live music!
|The last 100 mile wilderness sign.|
– Scenery and views were absolutely breathtaking. Some of the views off the mountains and walking along the top of the were cool. Even the cloud going over White cap that blocked any view.
– Lots of water and waterfalls; they’re my favorite. So relaxing.
– Met some really interesting folks on the way through.
– I survived due to flexibility, despite a total lack of knowledge of what I’m doing. Learning though.
– Held a strong pace, possibly too hard, but feet feel great, despite the plethora of issues.
– Intake more food (need to increase to more like 3500 a day, which is still a deficit)
– Right knee hurts, especially on the sharp drops. Need to slow down/rest as muscles acclimate. Worried about some of the big climbs left in Maine and New Hampshire.
– Need to drop excess weight; pack might just be -slightly- too large (seriously, if I can tighten a strap another inch), limiting my ability to tighten the weight against my back.
– Shoes need to be burned. Going to see if I can get new insole(s) and go from there. Worst case, I hike to Caratunk with one insole.
– Phone is glitching out. Replacement phone since Key West trip; new issues. LG G5? Suck it. Fortunately, not unusable.