When light crept through the trees and lit the fog around the shelter I dreaded the idea of another day. My stomach was empty and growling after a night of vomiting. Others gathered their stuff, packed up, and set off to go hiking. I laid on the shelter floor, dust from dirty boots coating my quilt and sleeping pad. The misty rain had washed the strewn remains of last nights meal spilled outside the shelter, but I had not forgotten. After a couple disappointing days just two days ago, I desperately wanted to be okay. But it was too early after such a long night so I rolled over and went back to sleep.
Eventually my stomach settled and the thought of continuing became less unbearable than the thought of stopping. That’s really all it ever was, never inspiration to continue, just dread at the thought of quitting my Appalachian Trail unsupported record attempt so early. Continue reading Stratton Mountain: Day 18, 36.7 miles→
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→
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→
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→
Last night when I arrived at Osgood Tentsite I was relieved to see several other groups camping as well. On the way in signs had warned me of issues with bears in the area and 6 years ago when I stayed here bears had raided several food bags as I slept. The park had installed bear boxes which would eliminate the concern for losing my food but the threat of waking up to a bear sniffing the chocolate buried in my mustache was still very real. But when I walked up it turns out bears weren’t the wildlife to be concerned with but rather a large moose foraging in the surrounding brush.
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→