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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm done with this trail...

I have summited and made it back down. Mt. Katahdin was freaking amazing. The weather was great and the views even better. It still hasn't hit me that I have completed al 2,179.1 miles. That time will come.

Give me a day or two to get my last few days of hiking posted. Pictures will come a few days after that.

Thanks for all the support and encouragment along the way. This has truly been an awesome experience that I am not ready to let go off.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

I can see Katahdin!

I am currently sitting on top of White Cap Mtn with Riverdog and Samurai. We are all enjoying our perfect view of Katahdin.

I am 72.8 miles away from finishing. Still on track for the 12th.

What a life!

August 7 - 20.8 / 2,100.5

I was woken up by headlamps and people talking about food bags. I then heard someone talking about how us tenters had hung our food in the shelter. That prompted me to get out of my tent and see what was going on. Kinder, a section hiker, and Snickers, a thru hiker, were discussing mice getting into Kinder's bag. I asked if the mice were bothering other bags too. They said it was just Kinder's bag. Realizing my bag was not in danger and that a bear had not taken my food, I went back to my tent and fell asleep.

A few hours later, I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag. I felt like I was back in Georgia again starting out in the winter. I remembered my alarm going off and thought I was awake enough at the last alarm. I then heard Riverdog tearing down his tent. I looked at my watch and noticed it was 45 minutes after my last alarm. Oh well for trying to get out of camp early.

Samurai and I left as Sonic decided to go back in his tent to sleep. Riverdog had already hiked on in order to get his body warm. I struggled up Barren Mountain. I would think that my body would not have any problems with these climbs. I think it is all the food I am carrying. Sam even mentioned how his pack was pulling him backwards when he was going up and down some rocks. My pack is definitely top heavy.

I passed Happy and Pappy. The left about an hour before me, but were still moving at a good pace. I pushed on after the summit of Barren to the next lean-to. There, Sam and I took a break for a second breakfast before going on. The next few hours were tougher than I expected. It is mainly due to all the roots and the occasional steep climb or descent over rocks. We came across a guy hiking southbound who told us about the lack of water across the top of the range. We were already aware of this. He also told us about two older people who he expected we would catch up to and pass. The first one we came to was an older gentleman. It was Retread; I have seen his name in a few registers. I asked him a few questions to make sure he was ok. It did appear he was struggling to get over some of the trail, but he seemed in good spirit and mental condition.

Further up the trail right before the next shelter, I came across an older lady who was moving excellently. She moved over as I approached. I asked her how her day was going and what he name was. In an awesome southern accent she said she was Kathryn Henderson. We spoke for a little bit as we made it to the shelter. Riverdog was there waiting and had carried Ms. Henderson's waterbag from the water source for her. This lady was great. She moved around better than most of us do. She is 72 or 73 and lacks a little over 200 miles of the trail. I forgot how long ago she started. She was inspiring to talk to. I gave her some contact information and told her to let me know when and where she was going to finish. I told her that I would do my best to show up if it was possible.

It had taken me 6 hours to do 10 miles. That was a little unexpected. I had lunch at the shelter and rested. I had one more climb and then a long downhill. The climb was over the summit of Chairback. I should have been able to see Katahdin from up there. However, I was unsure if I was looking at the right one.

As I was nearing a logging road, I saw Sonic and Riverdog sitting. I then saw TP and the Griswolds, a couple and their dog whom I had never met. Trailmagic! TP's mom had driven in to the 100 mile wilderness with some food. I had that with a Budweiser someone else had left along the trail. I headed further down the mountain after the trailmagic to a river. This was another shoes off ford. Before crossing, I spoke to a couple who said they were waiting on their son. Him and two others were running the 100 mile wilderness in a day and a half. They started at Abol Bridge this morning at 3:30. Kudos to them. I can't even walk the trail without tripping. I don't know how the run it, even in the dark.

I think I counted 53 people in the next mile. I thought the 100 mile is supposed to be remote. Most of them were just day hikers who had driven in on the logging road. I assume they were walking around Gulf Hagas. It is suppose to be known for a gorge like setting and multiple waterfalls. Sam, RD, Sonic, and I walked 0.2 miles down a blue blaze trail to check out a little sample of Gulf Hagas. It was cool but nothing to impressive.

The four miles after the side trail were all a gradual climb to the shelter. We made it to the tenting area first. It was packed. I don't know where all these people are coming from. It is almost a bottle neck on the trail. The four of us joined The Griswolds and TP for dinner. We all went to our tents shortly after as the temps were dropping fast. I think it will be a good night. I love sleeping in a warm bag in colder temps.

The funeral for my Nanny was today. I hope it all went well.

August 6 - 15.1 / 2,079.7

I kept waking up thinking a bear was going to go after my food. It was probably the most paranoid I have been this whole trip. I decided to just put my food in my tent since we were at the hostel.

Everyone was up and moving around when I got up. Bad news: it was just 6:45. Good news: we were all about to have an all you can eat breakfast. The breakfast includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and home fries. You order based on the number of helpings you want. I went with 3 as I was still pretty full from dinner. Hollywood joined us our table. As Riverdog went to go place a pin on a map, Hollywood started drinking his water. I told Hollywood that some of us pour our own drinks. He isn't the brightest fella so I had to tell him that he was drinking someone else's drink. Most people would check to see of all the glasses were full or if even empty seats had full glasses. Not Hollywood, he just sat down and started drinking. It made for a good story. Only if y'all would have had the time to have met Hollywood. That would make the story that much better.

I ran back to the general store and gas station after breakfast. I needed to get enough food for 6 days through the 100 mile wilderness. There are only logging roads and one chance of a resupply at a camp across a lake. Therefore, I have to carry more food. As always, I was the last to be ready. Samurai, Riverdog, and I made it to the trailhead around 11.

The day was a pretty gentle day of ups and downs. We did have a few river crossings. One was an actual ford again. Sam and RD were able to rock hop most the way, throw their packs on other rocks, and continue to rock hop all the way across without getting wet. I on the other hand did not. I made it to a rock to where I was going to throw my pack to RD. I hesitated as I started to throw my food laden pack across the water. The momentum to me and the pack right in. I went in thigh deep but managed to also grab RD. He pulled me right out. My pack was a little damp and so were my shoes. Everything else stayed dry. It was amazing. Luckily I didn't hurt myself or slip even more on the mossy rocks. It could have been a lot worse.

The day went by fairly quick. The three of us made it to the shelter by a decent time. Happy and Pappy were here when we arrived. It is a grandfather grandson duo. I think the grandfather is in his 80s while the grandson is 12. They have section hiked over the last few years and will complete the trail this year. What an awesome story they have to have hiked the entire trail together, especially at their ages.

Sonic rolled up fairly late and had some fun with mice that were running around him while he ate dinner.

The weather looks good for the next few days. That is a positive note. It is also supposed to be cool which helps when it comes to hiking. I can hear the deep breathes of the others so I too am heading to bed. Have a good night.

Oh yeah, less than 100 to go!

August 5 - 22.0 / 2,064.6

The thunder turned to rain that lasted off and on through the night. So, when I woke up my tent was wet and some water had pooled underneath. I guess I have to get better at picking tent spots. I had to face the climb over Moxie Bald Mtn in the morning since I didn't make it over the night before. I struggled due to the humidity.

The map had the rest of the day as pretty "flat." However it was really just pointless ups and downs that ran along a river. I had to cross the river twice. The first crossing was an actual ford with shoes and socks off. It wasn't difficult, just a pain. Sam and I made it to the second crossing a few miles later. We decided to take a break before crossing this time. A few minutes later a couple arrived at the opposite side of the river. Sam and I heard what sounded like soft drinks being moved around in a cooler. We looked through the bushes towards the couple and saw the lady bending over. We looked back at each other and in unison said, "trail magic." Sam yelled towards the lady asking if their was a cooler over there. She replied that there was, and it had drinks in it. We quickly put stuff back in our packs and crossed.

The lady was a little dumbfounded to see a cooler. Once we crossed, we explained that it was trail magic. By this time, Merf arrived on the other side. We yelled for her to not stop and come join us. The three of us each had two drinks. Yes, we left some. Knowing Merf wanted to go in to town too, I told her to keep up with us. We all left to hike the last few miles.

I could hear thunder approaching in the distance. I don't like to risk being in thunder storms. There wasn't a shelter near by so I asked Merf if we could set up her tarp tent. We decided to set it up between a few threes, and the three of us sat under it for the next hour as the storm went through. Luckily the lightning stayed a few miles away. We packed up the tarp and continued on. We were about two miles out when we came to a blue blaze trail which led to some ponds. I arrived first and noticed some Pepsi laying beside a fallen tree. I gave off a howl. There were three so it was perfect. All three of us decided to pack them out and drink them once we made it to the road. I had called the local hostel to come pick us up instead of trying to hitch. We made it to the road before our ride arrived.

The hostel was full inside so the three of us ended up tenting in the back yard. It was rather nice as I didn't have to deal with sleeping in a room with a lot of other people. There were quite a few people there including new NOBOs, SOBOs, and section hikers. Riverdog was also there. Sonic had gotten a hitch but neglected to tell the people what town he needed to go to. He ended up 15 miles the wrong direction. He actually ended up staying with another thru hikers mom that he had met earlier in his trip.

Merf, Samurai, and I walked to the local restaurant/bar in town. It ended up being all you can eat tacos night. All three of us decided to go that route. I had two orders of soft and one order of hard. That came out to 12 tacos total. I definitely got my monies worth. During dinner I brought up the conversation of how surreal this life has been the last few months. How am I able to be sitting in Maine looking over a lake with someone I met 3 months ago and another I met 3 days ago? Even crazier is how quickly you get to know people out here. It is almost like we were all best friends before this trip and are just picking up where we left off. It is going to be tough to go back to real life. A '09 thru hiker wrote in a shelter log the other day, "Enjoy it out here. When you're done, you're done." I think all of us are ready to be done but don't want to be done at the same time.

We then when to the only gas station were I grabbed some resupply food and a pint of Ben & Jerrys Half Baked. We then headed back to the hostel.

Most everyone was asleep when we arrived. I tried to knock out my ice cream, but I was too full from the tacos. I managed to eat half though. I was a little disappointed with myself. I got a chance to speak with my mom, sister, brother, and Michelle. It was good to hear all their voices. My dad had to work so he wasn't in Nashville yet with the rest of my family. I ended up speaking to him this morning (Aug 6).

In a food coma, I headed towards my tent for the rest of the evening.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Finishing Aug 12th...

I have heard that cell phone service north of here is very very limited. Therefore, this could be my last post before summiting. I will still try though. If I don't get a chance, I plan to summit on August 12th. Pay attention to my spot tracker. On the morning of the 12th, I am going to try and have my spot track me every 10 minutes. I would love for you to follow me.

Thanks for all the support, and I'll plan keep you all updated.