“To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits.”
-Sir Francis Younghusband
I got an early start this morning to work my way into Hanover. The rain started around 4 and made it a tough morning to leave the comfort of the shelter despite a leaky roof. But I wanted food and wanted to get a solid mileage in today to back up that I can do the 40 mile days back to back.
In town the gloominess persisted. I went to a diner, Lou’s Restaurant and Bakery, where I had eaten 6 years ago when I came through. I pulled off my poncho to keep from looking too homeless inside and rolled it up and put it in my pack. I was dripping wet, shorts absolutely soaking and shoes squeaking with each step. While I wandered around looking for an outlet to charge my phone another customer asked if she could lend me her towel to dry off. It was very thoughtful of her and I told her thanks but I would just be getting drenched in another hour so I declined the offer. Continue reading June 23, Day 15, 21.5 miles, Vermont Appalachian Trail
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
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
As I was hiking up Speck Mountain around dusk last night, I started looking for campsites on the slopes of the mountain. My standards for a campsite are very, very low. But I was quickly realizing that tonight I would have to drop even my lowest standards. The shelter was still 2 miles away over a decent climb, my tendinitis was worsening and the sun had already set. I managed to find a spot off the trail that gently sloped downward. I was too tired to care anymore. Exhaustion overpowered my rational thinking and I began to set up camp. Continue reading White Mountain Lodge and Hostel, Day 9, 28.2 miles
“I’m not happy but I guess if you climb enough offwidths, one of these days you’re gonna get your knee stuck and then shit your pants. It’s just an odds thing really.”
We were two miles from the end, practically prancing down the trail with excitement heading for Whitney Portal, nearly done with a 220 mile thru-hike of the John Muir Trail, having started in Yosemite National Park eight days earlier. We turned around for a last look at the towering summit behind us, now with a cap of deep ominous black clouds settling on its summit. It was a Saturday on one of the most popular hikes on the west coast and I hoped the crowds we had seen on the way up had good enough judgement to be off that summit and be racing to get back below tree line at this point. I imagined them hiding under boulders, the masses of them doing anything they could to escape the storm. Continue reading Yosemite National Park, Day 0
Standing among high mountains, we are instantly humbled. Their towering peaks, foreboding granite walls instill a sort of humility that only the powerful forces of the universe can provide. And yet they almost seem to crave being climbed, beckoning like a child wishing to be acknowledged. It is like Schrodinger’s cat, the sort of thing like some philosophers hypothesize the universe necessarily must spawn life in order to exist. If a mountain exists in the woods and no one is there to climb it, does it exist? The mountains seem to announce a similar array of necessity, not an insecurity, but rather a requirement to be observed. Continue reading The patient life: life of adventure
I shoved my ice axe down, trying to establish a self belay, essentially the lifeline for my travel on this alpine glacier. If I fall I would quickly grab the axe and hopefully it is well planted enough to hold my weight. The axe penetrated just a few inches in. Before it had been going deep into the snow. It happens though, there are occasional patches of ice. I pushed through again. Didn’t budge.