Sunday, August 26, 2012

Here in Monson

I've made really good time through Maine, with good new friends and catching up with old too.
It's hard to imagine that this trip is really winding down! Where I stand is just over 100 miles from the end of the Trail! The hundred mile wilderness stands between me and the end, filled with rocks and roots, hills and river fords. Mountains, except Katadyn, are mostly behind me, the Barren Chairbacks and one other peak that are both much smaller than many already scaled. Hikers are getting all poetic and misty eyed, many are excited to be done, others have slowed way down to enjoy the moments.  The south bounders are all so new looking, except the flip floppers that have the thru hiker look about them.
The terrain in the last few days has been fantastic, in my esteem, I did quick miles and made the ferry over the Kennebec just before 4 pm and had a great stay at the Sterling Inn in Caratunk before doing a couple days of hiking to get here. I'm taking a zero here tomorrow to recharge my body for the final push. The Lakeside House where I'm staying has kayaks for use, so I'll be relaxing and playing around on the lake. Another reason to relax tomorrow is to ensure that I arrive at Baxter after Labor Day, as it would probably be madhouse.
Oh! I saw a moose, and she even let me capture her on camera before she gracefully crashed through the underbrush away from me. I've fallen asleep to the sounds of loons singing their mournful song, and the gentle lapping of a mountain lake lolling me to sleep.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Hampshire... or not!

After Flip left me in Kent I started some steady days, first a 17 mile than a 21 than a 23... well you get the picture. Even with this pace I was able to stay in a hotel two of those nights. Don't stay in Great Barrington if you're on a budget, even the crappy hiker room was 150, ouch! I covered this briefly in the last post, but to show you where I am I need to show you how I got here!
So I soon passed out of CT and MA, very nice states that just flew by. The treadway was kind and the forest finally beginning to change into the New England feel. The first 1600 miles the forest is nearly indistinguishable, each state has patches that are remarkable, but for the most part the woods are very similar from GA thru CT. Mount Graylocke is topped with a spruce forest and extrordinary views, nice way to end the state. After a few more days of hiking I became in desperate need of a day off, my energy level began flagging and climbing up and over Stratton Mt was way more challenging than it should've been. I took a zero at Bromley Sun Lodge and felt a bit better, especially when I got to take the ski lift half way up the mountain when I began hiking again! Everyday there seemed to be afteernoon or evening thunderstorms, fortunately I was already in the tent or near a shelter when they came through. Then on Tuesday night after a 21 mile day I turned on my phone to see if I had signal enough to talk to Cara that I got a text from my brother, he was on his way to Maine for vacation and wanted to see where I was and if we could meet up. This was a great boon, my left foot has plantar facitis and had been very sore after all the big days. I happened to be on a road walk due to last years flooding from hurricane Irene. We spoke and Kev began making his way to find me in the back roads of VT. I sat on the side of the road and cooked dinner and read while waiting for him to arrive. What a change! From the woods to a hotel in Rutland in a matter of minutes. My foot has really needed the break. The next day I had a decision to make, have him drop me off at the Trail or have him take me to Franconia Notch to rest and wait for Cara on Friday. I flipped a coin and came to New Hampshire. My foot continued to hurt and I hobbled around, it finally began to ease up after 4 days of rest. I was surprised at how long it took for my foot to start feeling better. Plantar Facitis is painful when flared up.

After much deliberation I have come up with a plan, though not what I originally wanted, in the long run I believe this will make me enjoy the last bits of the Trail more than I might otherwise. I've decided to skip the Whites and get dropped off near Gorham, NH. I will have skipped nearly 200 miles of the Trail, so I will be a section hiker - granted the section I will have hiked is just less than 2000 miles, but I will be saving the best section for last. I will be able to not be in quite so much physical dissatisfaction, I will be able to hike with Cara and/or Flip, I will be able to take my time and enjoy the Whites - I feel if I did them now I would be trying to hurry through them. Lastly, the weather is very sketchy, and is typically this variable this time of year but it is apparently more stable in June and early July. But I am motivated to hike all of Maine currently; I am motivated to see Big K and finish the majority of this Trail.

I should be done 20 days after I get back on the Trail averaging 15 miles a day, though I expect to do bigger miles than that and doing some slower days in between. My thought is to get back on the Trail Wednesday morning August the 15th. I have already sorted and mailed the last 3 mail-drops at places in Maine that accept drops and pick-up hikers from the Trail. Maine has some of the longest journeys to get to town that there are! I specifically picked places that do hiker shuttles, I just hope I'll have enough cell service to get a hold of them, I can't walk 11 miles to get the drop-box! I am very forunate to have a place to stop and rest here at Lovett's Inn in Franconia, it was also great to have Cara come and visit, and to see my brother, and to hang out with Jim and Janet. My parents may be able to come see me at  Kataydin, Anthony may also, even Flip might. This updated schedule may throw them off, but I hope not.

I will probably not update again until I am done. But after I am done I will be collecting my thoughts and giving a more in-depth trip report along with things I felt I've done wrong/right and gear review about items that actually worked for me. Also I will be posting plenty of photos with descriptions. So stay tuned!