Here is a short video of my winter climb of Mt. Democrat. If I had to describe the ascent with just a few words I would say slow, grueling, cold, windy, lonely, and very, very white. In white out conditions I managed to tackle the three 14ers along that route. I began my climb at 8am and finished by 3:30. If you’d like to read more about the trip, a full write up can be found here: http://graysoncobb.com/mt-democrat-cameron-lincoln-bross/
Yesterday morning I started working my way up to the quadfecta of Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross. Cameron isn’t technically considered it’s own mountain because it lies on the slopes of Lincoln but it is still a 14er peak. Because of the brutal winter temps and snow the past couple weeks the road up to the summer trailhead at Kite Lake was closed about 3 miles down the road at an old abandoned mining hub called Paris Mill. A few days earlier I had tried to navigate my way up to Kite Lake with my city slick tires and was stuck within a half mile. So the past couple days I had settled for a start at Paris Mill and accepted the easy 3 miles out and 3 miles back of road walking. Continue reading Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross
The air was thick and warm. I was elated to relax and know that the near freezing temperatures I encountered up on the northern Appalachian Trail were behind me. I was calm and at peace after laughing on the phone with my parents making fun of the grump I met down in Salisbury and I easily fell asleep under the clear sky. But by early morning I woke up to gentle drops of rain hitting my tarp roof. I thought it would remain just that so I went back to sleep. I would have hiked to the shelter the night before but I remembered the .4 mile detour to get there very well and at this point I counted any deviation from the trail as a setback. I did prefer to sleep in shelters because of their dependability over a tarp on stormy nights but sometimes it just isn’t worth it. Continue reading Kent, Connecticut, Day 23, 29.0 miles
Resupply in Salisbury, Connecticut
Later in the evening I needed to resupply in the town of Salisbury, Connecticut. A super nice older lady, Maria McCabe, hosts hikers at her place. I decided to send her a mail drop with intentions of staying the night in Salisbury but was hitting it too early in the day to stop. I called her about an hour outside of town to check and make sure my package had arrived alright. She put me on the line with another hiker who was staying with her saying she had hearing difficulties. I told the man that I was going for the unsupported record and I unfortunately wouldn’t be able to stay the night but asked if it would be okay if I reimbursed Maria for holding my package. He said that’d probably be fine, clarified that my package was there and I expressed my gratitude and said I’d be there in an hour. Continue reading Part 2: Salisbury, Connecticut, 31.4 miles
Eating a small snack before getting to bed, I saw the brightness of a headlamp approaching. I got excited, thinking it might be my friend Bo, a NOBO thru-hiker whom I had known since elementary school. And sure enough he rolled in with a jump in his step like it was midday and not nearly 10pm. He said hello to the other hiker sitting at the picnic table outside of the shelter and I recognized his voice right away.
“Bo!” I shouted out to him. Continue reading Mt. Everett, Day 22, Part 1
Last year on a cross-country road trip I stopped at Glacier National Park. Not knowing anything about the place I asked one of the rangers what her favorite trail was. “Honestly, they’re all amazing, but I love the Gunsight Pass traverse. But it’s impassable right now,” she responded.
“How impassable?” I asked with a cheeky grin.
An hour later, just after noon, I was packing up a day pack and grabbing my crampons and ice axe with intentions of making it from Gunsight Pass Trailhead to Lake McDonald Lodge by nightfall and hitch-hiking back. It ended up being one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on with this gallery to show for it: Continue reading Gunsight Pass Traverse, Glacier National Park
I got a great night’s sleep and woke up after sunrise feeling rested and ready. By now I understood that the start of each day was always rough. So it didn’t surprise me when the first few miles were dragging. With the weather clearing and temperatures rising, thick humidity permeated the air. But I’d take anything other than rain and was extremely excited for better weather. I was getting demoralized with how slow the hiking was going on such easy terrain but just continually reminded myself that it always got better. Nearly every evening I felt on top of the world, like I could keep hiking for another 20 miles. But the mornings were dreadful and I would set myself back so tremendously from slow miles in the morning that by the time I felt good it was already afternoon and I was racing to cover the distances. Continue reading Tom Leonard Shelter, Day 21, 37.5 miles
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.
Hiking down Stratton Mountain I felt elated and completely at peace. A couple miles from the summit I saw a couple hikers setting up hammocks just off the trail. Enjoying the relaxing pace I had adopted this evening I sat down for a minute to check my mileages on my phone and ask them about the trail conditions down the hill. As was becoming the norm they couldn’t believe I was camping with such a tiny pack. Both engineers from Boston, they asked where I was from. I told them Richmond and one of them said he was dating a girl in Richmond. I found out she went to a rival high school and graduated a year before me. Simple things like that bring back little pieces of home and made the trip much more bearable. It was a cool little reminder of the connectedness in this world. In my loneliest moments, I always found there was a little bit of home everywhere, whether in some familiar looking woods, or in a phone call home, in a stranger’s friendliness, or in a crazy connection. Continue reading Massachusetts Appalachian Trail, Day 19, 42.3 miles
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