Only 500-ish more miles to go.

Why hello!

As we both know, I’m terrible at a few things. One, arguably is my driving(depends on who you talk to. I mean hey, this is NJ) and the another is keeping this blog updated. The second one is very apparent. What’s pathetic is that I like writing- I truly enjoy it. It’s a nice creative outlet and its sad too because I enjoy talking trail. I enjoy talking about gear, sharing stories, and even helping aspiring backpackers. But I think this time it’ll change. There’s more to come. I get myself involved into several things so that sometimes there’s just time for that. But as I have recently learned by the passing of a good friend, life is short. Don’t take your time here for granted. Whatever it is you do in life, just live your legacy and be a good person. So here, I write.

So back to trail(sorry for the rant). As you can probably tell from the header, I’m no longer on trail. 🙁 But that’s ok. I had to get off trail a week before Thanksgiving(this is how crappy i am at this blog). Two weeks before the holiday, I was in Dalton, MA considering on getting off trail.  The trail goes directly through this town so I stopped in a pub to get my thoughts in order. About my second drink in, I found I was sitting next to a former thru-hiker. Her name was Purple and she hiked in 2000. I told her my trouble – it was getting cold, I have about 160 miles to get home(two weeks approx), and I’m not sure what to do. By cold, I mean it was forecasted to get into the lower 20’s and teens. Purple pumped me up, suggested I take a zero, resupply, and just get on with it. Well so I did.

To be honest, a whole mess of stuff happened in Dalton and Pittsfield(resupply town). I got into an disagreement with the hotel but the next day I received a nice hug. It was an elderly woman at Wendy’s which said to friend as they were hugging, “I don’t get these anymore since my husband passed.” My heart melted so I dropped the tray down holding my spicy chicken sandwich combo and offered a hug. She happily accepted and I then had my sandwich. See, I totally won.

It was after this hug I was able to get a ride from Pittsfield to Dalton where my ride ended up being a really nice person and the other person in the original aforementioned hug. They had one helluva story. I felt like I was lucky to be there with them. He dropped me off, we exchanged info and I kept on hiking. I then had 11-12 days to get to my goal point of the Bear Mountain Inn in NY, which is before Bear Mountain going SoBo. I’ve done Bear Mountain three times so I think I could have gotten away with it.

I’m not crazy about backpacking the cold. I can’t operate as efficiently in that kind of weather. Cold day-hikes, bring it. Cold backpacking, nope. Either way, I guess it’s still nice to be outside. The cold weather surely did creep in and fast. My first night from Dalton was actually kind of fun. I had a shelter to myself and made a blazing fire from blow-down trees. But holy cow the cold settled in. While backpacking, I use a Marmot Sawtooth 650-down filled. For specifics on the number, the amount of cubic inches one ounce of down occupies. With the labeling and knowing my bag, I can sleep in the 30’s comfortably with some layers. It’s the same bag I used on the first stretch. Anything below that, it starts to keep me awake at night tossing and turning to find the warmest most comfortable position. So to make the story short, it did get into the mid-low 20’s. I didn’t think those few degrees would make a difference but they really do. I hiked from Dalton to Great Barrington, MA over a few days and had to call it. I couldn’t handle sleeping in that kind of cold.  I was only 30 miles from Connecticut.

I got home to NJ a week before Thanksgiving. I was slightly disappointed in myself for not making it to Bear Mountain but if I’m not going to be in safe conditions while hiking, I’m not taking that risk of hypothermia or frostbite. Trail-No.

A few lessons learned here.

-Offer/Give/Receive more hugs

-Get a higher rated winter weather sleeping bag.

-At least I tried to hike it.

So to sum things up here for the miles

2016- NoBo – 1023.1 miles

Springer Mountain, GA(Southern Terminus) to Harper’s Ferry, WV. The ‘half-way point’ of the AT.

2017 – SoBo – 669.2

Mount Katahdin, ME(Northern Terminus) to Great Barrington, MA

What’s left

497.5 miles*

*Small parts of trail are moved, re-routed or reconstructed every year so this has a margin of a few miles.

Now this blog isn’t over. All I did was ramble on to you my last few days of trail. I didn’t even get to mention the people I’ve met, the perspective of going SoBo vs NoBo(I think there’s a clear winner), and about the trail itself. So over the next few weeks I’ll plan to post on every Thursday regarding the AT and section hiking. I’ll go into gear(of course), terrain, trail etiquette, and a number of other topics. And I can’t forget the pictures! Trail season is very close so at least I’ll be able to help those getting ready, right?

Here’s a tease regarding the pictures. Hiking with the Autumn was something else….

Happy Trails

Angel

 

The going is good

Hello! Well in one phrase, things are going great. Maine is over and I’m currently in New Hampshire. Southern Maine was intense and some of the hardest hiking I’ve ever done but the views were out of this world. In Maine, from the Bigelow Mountains going south, it was just constant large, hard rocky climbs for over 100 miles and in NH the climbs are similar but appear to be shorter and sharper. By that I also mean the climbs don’t seem so everlasting. Some northbounders suggested that the Whites, where I am now, would be easier then Maine. I’m starting to get a little convinced. The climbs do seem a tad easier and they’re also more enjoyable. NH has these ridges which we hike on and we can see where we’re hiking to since it’s open and above tree line. You can look left and right and see miles into the distance.

There’s a lot of look-down hiking because the terrain is rocky and in areas very very steep. On some mountain descents, I’m glad I’m going south and not north. I do have to say I enjoy the more technical climbs. I feel like they’re a bit more fun and there’s been a ton of hiking like that. Mahoosic Notch is considered ‘one of the most difficult or fun miles of the AT’. I guess it depends on what kind of Hiker one is. It’s basically one mile of going through a big boulder field in a small valley.  A bit of climbing up and hopping from one large rock to the other, climbing down and doing it again. Some areas don’t get touched by the sun and you can see your breath in those low lying sections while it’s 80 degrees elsewhere. It’s pretty cool- no pun intended.

 

So far the Whites have been pretty amazing. The Mt. Washington summit and sections going south have by far been my favorite hiking. I’ve met some folks I’ve been hiking with and we were very lucky in our summit day. We left Gorham, NH(first town outside of ME) with anticipating on Wednesday October 4th for a nice day summit on Mt. Washington. Luckily the weather held and we rocked it. I got a little lucky myself by receiving some trail magic by a woman that wanted to help someone in the hiking community, I was grateful it was me. In the Whites there are huts managed by the AMC(Appalachian Mountain Club). They are expensive to stay but hikers with their White Mountain Hiker Cards are able to grab a free drink and baked good while stopping by. Hikers can also do work-for-stay at these huts to get a good meal and sleep indoors(on the floor). It was raining for a few day stretch so this was a little enticing for me but requires staying up late to help the hut. I appreciate my sleep so i don’t believe I’ll be doing it.

Besides the few days of rain, the weather has been great. Going over Franconia Ridge was quite tough. There was a storm coming through and the winds on the ridge were gusting to over 90 mph. That’s not a typo. It was a constant battle with the wind at all times above tree line. My pack cover was taken by the wind three times. Luckily the first two I was grasping onto it and the third time it was caught by an Alpine tree. My pack straps kept whipping me in the face as well. I think that was the toughest weather I’ve ever had to face but in all honestly, dude, that was a ton of fun. Such a rush

Just as last year, the people and hikers have been fantastic. I can’t really say it in any other way. Going south and out of season, I didn’t expect to get so lucky. I’m a bubble of SoBo’s And everyone is stellar. There’s only about 10 of us and I do believe we’re the last of them but that’s what I think what makes it so special. I’ve passed hundreds of NoBos on trail and so far I haven’t met a bad soul. I question the timing on their mt Katahdin possible summit day these days but I give them credit for still pushing. Good for them.

 

Currently I’m in Lincoln, NH, right after Franconia Ridge going South. It’s a pretty nice town and busy. I took a day off to wait out a storm passing at a place called Chet’s. It’s really a gentleman’s home who helps the hikers but this gentleman has a story that I will forever look on and reflect on during my hike. This man likes his privacy so I will not tell his story. This one almost has to be earned.

 

My health is doing ok. I feel like I’m in good shape and have my legs back. Coming South has been a crash course for terrain but I’m loving every second of it. It took a while for my legs to come back but at least for now, they are much stronger. I’ve lost maybe about 15-20 pounds so far. Like I keep saying, the terrain in the this northern section is super tough so I think that’s what’s causing it. I’m appreciating town food much more these days to pack in some extra calories.

 

Some of my gear has been swapped such as my pack and shoes. My good friend Rob really helped out by shipping out a new pack for me in Rangely, ME. It’s a way more functional pack and two pounds lighter from my last. I’m grateful for his help on this trip. Thanks, Rob!! Yesterday my sister was just as helpful and purchased a new pair of shoes. The loops for the laces on my last pair ripped in three different places and a hiker friend fixed and showed me how to fix them. If it wasn’t for her my feet and legs wouldn’t have made it so safely to town. Thanks to my sister for her help!!

 

Coming up I have the rest of the Whites and then head into Vermont. There’s a small section of trail closed for wild fires so I’ll have to skip a little bit of trail but I have no control over it. In a few days and getting into Vermont the terrain calms down and there aren’t many huge climbs. From what I understand some rolling ups and downs, which I’m excited for to push in some extra miles per day. It’s been about 10-13 per day due to terrain. Again I don’t mind either way because the views are best I’ve ever seen. When I head out today I’ll be hiking up Mt  Moosilauke and after that the terrain becomes small sharp ups and downs. I’m going to miss the views but my body could use the terrain break. Next town day is likely going to be in 5-6 Days so hopefully I can squeeze in a post then

Happy Trails!

 

 

Hike on, folks

  1. Why hello! It’s been a while, eh? Well if you’ve heard that I was back in trail, it’s a true story. I’ve been back on trail for a few weeks now but service, WiFi,  timing are scarce. This may be a short post but it’ll get things going

Heres the details.

Im going South hiking to Harper’s Ferry, WV, where I had last left off. It took a while to finally get back on trail but after my car was hit from a hit and run, a job opportunity I did not get, and a few other things, I made a cut decision to do it. It was a good hit on my budget but if I’m frugal I can surely make it work. I have to avoid what happened last time

 

I summitted Mt. Katahdin on August 28 or so and currently in Caratunk, ME at the Sterling Inn Bed and Breakfast. A wonderful, charming place honestly. So far I’ve conquered Mt. Katahdin, the 100 mile wilderness, and a few other good climbs. I will say though, it’s a much tougher than the Southern start. It’s a bit of a crash course so hopefully my legs and stamina will come soon.

I’m hoping to be done with this trip before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately my gear isn’t what it used to be and it looks like I may have to brunt the costs for some new things so I can hold up. Southern Maine is tough and the White Mountains are no joke but afterwards it should be some smooth hiking all the way up until Pennsylvania, which hikers call the hardest and worst state because of the rocks. I can only hope I can get thorough these tougher parts sooner than later to avoid the severe weather in the higher elevations such as the Whites. The fall colors are already showing here in Maine but it’s a sign of whats to come. Winter.

It’s been great so far. I’ve met a ton of awesome hikers in each direction and it’s helpful to share info on the directions we’re coming from. Such as places to stay or check out to terrain conditions. Like I say, it’s the people that really make the hiking community what it is. I’m lucky enough to be able to do this  twice and I need to be sure to take it all in. Some people dream of doing this and I get to do it again. I’m lucky.

I have to get back on trail so I’ll leave it with that. It was nice to finally get this post in.

 

Happy Trails!