I started day 2 at Rainbow Stream Lean-to, a beautiful little shelter right alongside a cascading creek. After a short conversation with the guys at the shelter getting started on their thru-hikes, I wished them luck and got on my way. The sun rose early in Maine and by 4am the sky was bright. But I didn’t get up until 5am and was hiking by 5:30. I usually preferred to sleep in shelters to save time from setting up my tarp but the snoring and late nights from other hikers often made it not worth it. And last night a full shelter had made the decision for me.
I call the fatigue and metabolic overload on day 2, ‘second day syndrome’. On the first day I imagine my body uses up the glycogen and good night’s sleep from civilization and then on the second day begins to get accustomed to borderline starvation and sleep deprivation normal to life on the trail. But that process of transitioning usually makes for a long, tough day. Today, however, I felt great. Ironically, after beginning the AT with the longest climb on the entire trail, there is only one blip of a mountain for the next 60 or so miles. So I cruised through the flat, but very muddy, rocky, and root covered trails.
Up on Nesuntabunt Mountain I managed to get cell service and checked in with my parents briefly, not remembering my early mornings were something they weren’t too keen on. I woke my mom up and apologized but she was happy to hear from me. The rain had cleared for the time being and I was ecstatic to be out on my trip that I had spent so much time planning and dreaming about. It had been a point of contention between me and my parents, who are always very supportive, that I would not be carrying the Spot Satellite Messenger on this trip. While I would love the option of having people track my movement online, and the ability to quickly and easily check in, I couldn’t justify the weight of carrying something that benefited my record attempt in no way. For me it was a useless brick in my pack. And with everything weighed, trimmed, and shaved, the Spot would be horribly out of place.
Around midday I was cruising through the trails and a mama ruffed grouse popped out from alongside the trail. She viciously came at me hissing ready to pounce. She lifted her claws up and I backed up but she kept coming. I heard her chicks chirping in the brush off the side of the trail and felt bad for disturbing her with no intentions of harming her but she kept coming at me, jumping up, trying to claw at my shins. So I pushed her away with my trekking pole which startled her enough to get her to back off so I could make it down the trail. Turns out it’s not the bears and snakes to worry about, it’s the flying dinosaur cousins who want to gore you with their talons if you get to close.
Late in the day my legs were fading and I hit the climb to head up the slopes of White Cap Mountain. I had been counting off the days that it had taken me to get this far in 2009 when I was out here and in less than 36 hours I had gone what took 6.5 days on my previous trip. Pretty nuts, but a lighter pack and fitter legs made it seem almost mundane to be doing what I was doing.
I set my sights on Logan Brook Lean-to where I met a couple more SOBO thru-hikers from Florida and Colorado. They had worked on a fire with the wet wood for an hour before I arrived and I had smelled the smoke in the down drafts for the last couple miles. A wonderful welcome and what would end up being my only fire on the entire trip. I was too tired to enjoy it though so I ate a snack and went to bed. 15 hours of hiking for 41.3 miles, 71.4 total