The rain didn’t relent through the entire night. It seeped in through the side and heavy drops splashed on me from the sides of the tarp. By midnight I was soaked but the Downtek coated down in my Enlightened Equipment quilt kept the down dry and lofted, keeping me warm and asleep.
I got a great night’s sleep and slept in a bit to enjoy the continental breakfast. I had psyched myself up in the night and this morning was getting excited to get back out there and log some miles. I ate pounds of fresh fruit for breakfast, avoiding the heavier stuff because I was still full of pastries, chips, and ice cream from last night. I checked out and began working my way back to the trail.
Soon I was climbing my first ascent of the day and recognized a spot where I took my first ‘zero in the woods’ 6 years ago. I had set up my tent and stayed in it for the night, the following day, and another night, only rising to find water and relieve myself. It was a glorious mindless, relaxing day and by the time the next morning rolled around I was reinvigorated to continue hiking. But I didn’t have the option to do that on this trip, my recovery periods were little over the 8 hours I had to sleep each night, and sometimes less than that. The only way I can think of attempting the Appalachian Trail unsupported record is like racing a marathon, getting super excited to have finished, and then a couple hours later having to do it all over again. And again. And again. And when it rains, when the winds are unrelenting, when the cold pierces your clothing, and when you don’t get a wink of sleep, again. Continue reading Little Rock Pond Shelter: Day 17, 34.0 miles
I slept in till 7am, used my Buff to cover my eyes well after the sun had risen. I went to bed before it set and rose after it was above the horizon. For the first time on the trip I dreamed. I actually dreamed. I put myself in a place other than on this brutal trail that was challenging me at every turn and I was happy. But when I woke up, with the sun rising and the air warm, I was actually elated to still be out here. Time to get back and rein in the deficit that I accumulated yesterday. I started packing up my stuff and realized I probably didn’t have enough food to get me to my next resupply. It was over 20 miles away and I was supposed to be there, or at least close, last night. I was kicking myself but there was a farm stand just a few miles down the trail. Continue reading Greenbrier Inn, Killington: Day 16, 22.7 miles
Sorry for the vertical video but this is my log for the day:
I didn’t end up keeping a video log because I ran out of room on my phone storage which was a real bummer.
A couple more notes on the day: Continue reading Velvet Rocks Shelter, Day 14, 41.8 miles
The rain poured nearly all night. But in the four walls of Lonesome Lake Hut, I was warm and comfortable and thankful to have put the high exposed summits behind me. Only one climb above treeline left and the tame round summit could only be but so bad.
I woke up when the hut crew began preparations for breakfast. Startled, I woke up to a smiling face working around in the kitchen. I looked up quickly, already guilty for having snuck in the previous night and apologized sincerely for coming in. She reassured me that she could understand and told me it was okay. I was exhausted but I knew I needed to get out before the guests started coming in. In the heavy rain it didn’t look like anyone else wanted to get out of bed but I had no choice. I packed up quickly and put on my poncho and began working my way up Kinsman Mountain. I was surprised and frustrated to once again find a gnarly climb up the steep face. Exposed granite alternating with deep mud made the morning exhausting and by the time I made it to Kinsman Pond Shelter was close to collapsing and falling asleep along the trail. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep last night for the long 17 hour hiking day yesterday and needed a refreshing nap. Continue reading Hikers Welcome Hostel, Day 13, 22.9 miles
All night I had done such a good job fuming over my low mileage yesterday that by morning I was full fledged ready to hike the rest of the trail in one fell swoop. So rather than doing the rational thing, I vowed to hike a 37 mile day in the Whites to catch back up to where I had intended to be. I wasn’t entirely committed. In fact I thought it was stupid. But I was pissed and rightfully so. I’ve never denied that I’m a fairly emotional athlete. Piss me off and I’m usually a pretty tough competitor to beat. But this was a long race and there was no competition other than myself. There was no sense in beating myself up, so I needed to be patient and wait till the end of the day to see where I was. If it didn’t seem doable, I’d hold off and get the miles back down south on easier terrain. Continue reading Lonesome Lake Hut, Day 12, 37.0 miles
Marni and Eric had prepared me a huge breakfast that I could heat up and eat before everyone else was up so I didn’t have to wait. It was a huge help. Also at the hostel was a guy, Will, who was the first SOBO thru-hiker to hit this point. He had taken a zero yesterday and we caught up over pizza last night. He had gotten in touch with me before we started and exchanged notes on gear and diet. I had told him about my shoes getting ripped up from the mud and rocks in Maine and showed him the four inch gash in the side. He told me he had mailed himself a pair of shoes but was going to continue hiking in the shoes he was wearing. They were exactly my size and he was just going to leave them in the hiker box. It couldn’t have been better luck and I am seriously thankful to him for letting me wear them out of Gorham. I had been worried about my shoes which looked more like sandals at this point. My next pair wasn’t till northern Vermont and I highly doubted this pair would last that long. I had clean, new Darn Tough socks waiting for me in this mail drop and getting Will’s shoes were an amazing addition. Continue reading Osgood Tentsite, Day 10, 26 miles
It was nice to once again have a shelter to myself for the night and enjoyed a good night’s sleep despite temps dropping down to the low 30s. My vapor barrier worked but the warmth of my sleep system made me resistant to getting up. I got hiking probably around 530 but I couldn’t know with having my phone battery dead. The sky was clear for the time being but I knew rain was forecast. I would enjoy the dry weather for now. Continue reading Speck Pond Lean-to, Day 8, 31.9 miles
I’m home. I can hardly believe it. I’m showered, clean, wearing clean clothes, clean cotton clothes. My ribs still jut out, my beard is ragged, remnants of dirt stain my ankles and toes, and my face shows the exhaustion. But I’m home. It seems surreal. I was supposed to be in New York somewhere, some woods, getting splashed underneath my tarp from the heavy raindrops landing next to my head, legs aching, asleep and ready for another 5am start in just a few hours. But instead I’m here, legs still aching, in the room I grew up in, sitting on my bed, clean, the Appalachian Trail many miles away.
Was it a dream? Were the sleepless nights all a fiction? The insane rain, the impassable blowdowns, the 37 mile day in the Whites, the late night raids from hungry porcupines, the exhaustion so extreme I was able to fall asleep standing? Did all that actually happen? The leg cramps so painful I couldn’t sleep? Wasn’t it just a couple days ago I announced to my closest friends and family that I wanted to go for this? Continue reading Home off the Appalachian Trail
A couple months ago I announced my intentions of hiking the Appalachian Trail with the goal of completing it in record time. With the trip quickly approaching, I wanted to clear up exactly what it is that I am doing. There are essentially three types of records for long trails: supported, self-supported, and unsupported. Supported essentially means a crew follows the hiker/runner for the duration of the trip, providing their food and drinks as well as sleeping arrangements and any other help along the way. Unsupported on the other hand involves no support from anyone and no resupply, and is essentially limited to a few days because of the near complete refusal of assistance, even in the form of food from a town. The third, less well defined type is a hike done in self-supported fashion which involves resupplying in towns but no assistance from vehicles or a dedicated support crew. For all of the types, the hiker must complete every single foot of the trial by their own effort. Continue reading Self-supported guidelines