Day 100 – Issues with a Short Day

Start Milepost: 1783.8 Time: 06:25081917 - Trail
End Milepost: 1791.1 Time: 09:35
Miles hiked: 7.3
Miles to go: 398.7
Weather: sunny, cool
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

Having gone with Plan D today I put myself in a quandary. I had only 7-plus miles to hike to the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel where Scamper had mailed my resupply. That distance was knocked out in about three hours leaving me with nothing to do for the rest of the day, except rest!  With heavy rain due at 15:00 I had an outside chance of slackpacking and being done before the rain came. Or, I could join a couple of other hikers and head for Moosilauke and skip slackpacking. The window to make the decision was narrow. To complicate the decision, Legion suggested doing the subsequent 16 ridge in two days vice one. More thinking required. I don’t want to add days to the schedule!

It was not a decision by indecision, but close to it. I elected to stay put for two nights notwithstanding the rather bare bones nature of this hostel. The hiker shower is outdoors and it is matched by a porta potty. No, this is not the Green Mountain hostel.

I will slack pack the nine-plus miles of Moosilauke tomorrow. I have no idea how long that will take. I’ll bet six hours and expect to be back at Hiker’s Welcome at 14:00 if Legion (hostel proprietor) puts me at the the trailhead at 08:00.  That will amount to a slightly shorter day than normal, but nothing going forward is expected to be normal.

On Thursday, Legion will carry my heavy gear in a tagged, garbage bag to the Notch Hostel after he drops me at the trailhead. I shared that info with Serena at Notch Hostel. She is expected to retrieve said gear for me.  And that brings up another issue: pickup at Franconia Notch. Since I will be starting the hike from Kinsman Notch later than Serena’s hikers, I will have to request a personal shuttle pickup at Franconia Notch for a $10 fee. Life consists of choices….

More issues: Franconia Notch is where my next resupply is to be picked up. More food than I probably need. Guess what? It is better than the alternative – not enough food! I will make friends with a hungry hiker and feed him. One related issue with that resupply; the resupply was shipped to welcome center. It closes at 17:30 increasing the urgency to move with a purpose after being dropped at Kinsman Notch. I will have 9.5-hours to hike 16 miles in tough terrain. Methinks it is doable. If I don’t arrive at the center before closing time, all is not lost. I will just be late starting the next day when the center reopens. Permutations.

Writing about food reminds me that I could have gone for a burger an hour ago when a local asked if I wanted to join him. I thanked him, but elected to stick with my current meal plan: Mountain House and sundries. Ah, but I did partake of an ice-cream sandwich earlier today after polishing off two tuna salad packets that were supposed to have been for lunch yesterday and the day prior. It is tough remembering to eat — except breakfast and snacks all morning long, or when I anticipate a long climb. Long climbs demand a Snickers bar and so far there has always been one in my food pockets.

So, back to extra food…. I gave away some Cliff bars I purchased in Hanover to a vegetarian couple who otherwise passed on my extra tuna salad packets that were also purchased in Hanover. They also took mashed potatoes I probably bought in CT! They also passed on the packet of salami that was part of the mashed potato supper.

Note: yesterday was my 99th day on the trail. At that stop point I had hiked my planned AT average of 18 miles per hike day. Going forward, that average will proceed to decrease as either the terrain gets more difficult or the shelter locations make a day’s distance less accommodating. Pun intended.

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Day 99 – Change in Plans

Start Milepost: 1764.3 Time: 06:36082117 - Sign Post
End Milepost: 1783.8 Time: 17:10
Miles hiked: 19.5
Miles to go: 406.0
Weather: sunny, cool
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Resupply: Glencliff, NH
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

No doubt I have covered planning and plans at some point in this website, but I am going to touch on it again.

Plan A. The original plan for yesterday was to take a day off. That changed when I saw the terrain that was to be covered in 24-miles today.

Plan B was then developed to hike roughly 12-miles to Hexacuba Shelter.

Plan C was developed last night after I heard some hikers mention stealth camping near NH Route 25A to set themselves up for a NERO (nearly a zero mile day) tomorrow. I joined that parade which would run the mileage to 17-miles.

Plan D. As I approached the stealth camp site I ran into Dave (Van Man) who advised that Omelette Man was still cooking for hikers at a point 3.5-miles farther on. If I went for an omelette, I would have to change my camp site to Ore Hill Campsite. I didn’t want an omelette but I did want to be able to thank him for his 6.5 days a week trail magic.  That ran the mileage to just under 20. Plan D was developed after hiking over two difficult peaks!082117 - Mountain View 1

So I hustled to reach Omelette Man’s location in two hours since he usually closes up at 17:00. I reached his tent at 16:45, offered my thanks as planned and at his insistence enjoyed two bananas, several cups of orange juice and a cup of coffee. He had a gas stove, dozens of eggs, 15 jugs of water and juice and scores of bananas — all uneaten. A score or more of hikers had been thru his tent already and when I arrived there were five talking to him and enjoying an omelette. He sat in a lounge chair with a large female boxer laying between his legs. And, there were a half-dozen camp chairs for hikers. Why not thank a guy for such kindness. And he had not hiked the AT! When I began to chill in the late afternoon temperatures I bid a farewell.

Tomorrow I will hike seven miles to Hiker’s Welcome hostel and hope to get a bunk; rain is due to arrive in late afternoon.

The following day I will slack pack Moosilauke and try for a sequential slack of the Kinsman ridge with the Notch Hostel the next day. A key, unresolved factor is how to transfer my gear between hostels at Kinsman IMG_7105Notch so I don’t lose a day of hiking. The Notch Hostel owner thinks it is possible. So, the closer I get to the Whites the more fluid my planning.

Except for the rain tomorrow and showers on some other days, the weather looks favorable for the next two weeks.

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Day 98 – Hiker Motels

Start Milepost: 1747.7 Time: 07:17082017 - Shelter
End Milepost: 1764.3  Time: 14:48
Miles hiked: 16.6
Miles to go: 425.5
Weather: sunny, cool
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails: 0.2 – shelter/tent site
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

As usual the motel accommodations were something to write about. The proprietor was upset when I told him I was only going to stay one night. He got over it. Lisa was appalled at the exterior; the interior was not much better. On the other hand, it had a shower. What else does a hiker need?

Well, a hiker needs his laundry done so I inquired about said service. I was advised that once the business laundry was finished at about 17:30 I could get mine done.

In the meantime I organized the ordering of supper from Domino’s Pizza for myself and two other hikers principally because the German had no phone. At 17:45 I again inquired about the laundry. It was bad timing on my part; the proprietor had a burr in his saddle for hikers and he chose mild mannered me to vent his hiker frustrations. He advised that his machines were too big for hiker laundry. I replied we had similar machines at home and they did small loads just fine. Boom! He advised that he was not my servant! Yipes! I told him I would get all the hiker laundry gathers for one hiker load. I went to room 8 and room 3 to collect their laundry, grabbed my own (room 5) and was then shown two more rooms whose occupants were hikers. I knocked on each but they elected not to join in the contract. The grumpy proprietor settled down and laundry service was provided.

Supper arrived on schedule and we three ate together in the parking lot while sitting on lawn chairs. (See Lisa’s opinion above!)

I advised Klaus that I would get an Uber car to pick us up this morning at 06:30. At the appointed time I learned that no Uber drivers work on Sunday! Terrific. We moved to the roadway of VT-10 and stuck out our thumbs. A mile and a half closer to town (we were walking) a man on his way to his shell (boat) down at the river picked us up. We were very appreciative.

IMG_7080After being dropped at the trailhead, Klaus kept up with me for the first two hundred yards; it was as flat as a football field. As the terrain began to rise, he may have stopped for another cigarette because I never saw him again. Suffice it to say, he was a nice guy, but not a European version of Relentless!

The first ten miles of the hike were some of the best trails to date. Wonderful inclines and soft pine needles underfoot. Then it got tough and all I could do was imagine a pair of heels in front of me that I was supposed to keep up with. I did my best.082017 - Moose Mountain

The first views of NH from Moose Mountain. were wonderful.

If JaxDad falls in the forest and Relentless was not present, can it be proved that a fall occurred? Absent a cut on the face, a skinned shin or a torn shirt the answer would be No. Man-o-man, just before I turned onto the blue-blazed trail to the shelter I was on my back struggling to find vertical. Grabbing hold of a nearby sapling and rolling myself onto my knees saved me from the humility of waiting for the next hiker. That position iced my decision to call it a day!

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Day 97 – Hiking Alone

Start Milepost: 1733.0 Time: 06:09081917 - VT-NH State Line
End Milepost: 1747.1 Time: 12:30
Miles hiked: 14.1
Miles to go: 442.1
Weather: overcast, cool
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Overnight: inn
Map: Click on map pin

Today marked another milestone in my hike. I left Vermont and entered New Hampshire and all it has to offer the Trail: challenges.

No, that wasn’t the milestone I had in mind. I am once more a lone hiker. I admit that hiking alone has its distinct advantages. I can begin, end, pause and restart my hiking day any way I desire. There are many advantages to hiking alone.

On the other hand, there are countless advantages to hiking with someone else. I found that to be true when I was with Polka Dot and to some degree with Youngblood, Joe and High Miler. But I never hiked in as close a proximity to them as I did with Relentless. Most of the hours I hiked with him we were within conversation range and we had some grand conversations. Funny, as he aptly put it, we likely know more about each other than we do our neighbors. As mentioned yesterday, I learned some valuable tips from him.

081917 - SunriseHe will be back to complete his forth and final section next year. As much as I enjoyed hiking with him, he knows I have no love for hiking and will not join him on his final thirty or so days next year. But I will certainly cheer him on. How could I not.

I will miss him on my final days. But he will be with me as I attack the hill: never stopping until I reach the top. I’ll keep my respiration and heart rates steady and measured. Ah, but I will never match his pace.

He and his wife took me to lunch, to resupply, to seek some hardware replacements and to my typical hiker motel knowing they had miles to drive en route their next destination. Thank you.

Today we had a grand surprise: a full breakfast as trail magic. It was simply marvelous. The man does it out of the kindness of his heart although he does sometimes receive donations. Otherwise he and his wife are simply very generous. I will get his address via Google maps and contribute more than we did as we departed.

081917 - Sap 2

Maple syrup harvesting

Norwich is a town to revisit. With my Bride.

I will depart in the morning with a German hiker two doors down. More to follow on that. I expect to be at the trailhead by 06:45, later than normal, but much sooner than Klaus offered: 08:00.

Weather outlook is good to Mt. Moosilauke.

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Day 96 – Rain

Start Milepost: 1720.7 Time: 06:00081817 - Fog
End Milepost: 1733.0 Time: 12:30
Miles hiked: 12.3
Miles to go: 456.8
Weather: rain, chilly
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

For the record: I am off trail at the earliest time since I left Amicalola Falls; 12:30. There is a story behind that time. OBTW, I am in my quilt while I write at 13:00.

We knew last night that rain was coming today. The forecast called for it to begin at 06:00 and end tomorrow at 08:00. At about 04:45 I heard the leaves fluttering in the breeze and then in the wind. Conclusion? Rain will arrive shortly. Decision? Get ready to leave camp then!

My first task was to zipper the bottom of the legs back on the convertible shorts. Next task was to put night clothing and sleeping gear back in their stuff sacks. About then I heard Relentless stir and then saw the light of his headlamp. He must have reached a similar conclusion. By then a light drizzle had begun to patter on the tent so I accelerated the process. In minutes I had all stuff sacks ready to load into the pack which was under its rain cover and leaning against a nearby tree.

With boots on and laced I retrieved the pack and bear bag. The next task was to roll up the tent which by now was wet from the drizzle. I used a technique shared by Relentless. I left the fly attached, folded the edges in towards the longitudinal center and rolled it up with poles and stakes as the center. The footprint was stuffed in its own sack. The benefit of that process is that when it comes time to set it up, all parts are oriented and ready to erect. Once in its stuff sack, it was placed in the pack and I was ready to hike.

We were on the trail at 06:00 and hiked in the near dark for an hour before the rain fell in earnest. And did it ever fall. The waterproof boots held up for a while but eventually the rain ran down the back of my legs and into the top of the boots. Oh joy!

After an hour of hard, uphill climbing and then beginning to descend, we put on rain jackets to maintain a semblance of warmth.

With ten of the twelve miles complete we detoured on a gravel road to a market and were disappointed. No Gatorade. No snacks. The chef (!) offered us a pint of meatballs and we said Yes. We matched them with some cheese, crackers and root beer for lunch. And had to eat it on the porch, not inside in the warm-dry! We chose an alternative – a pole barn converted into a parking garage. We stood inside with our fare laid out on an upright, four-foot log. First class!

We finished lunch and shivered back to the trail. Two quick miles over hill and dale we reached our intended shelter. Day is done!

And the rain continues sporadically.

081817 - StreamWe think we missed some good views, but we will never know for certain. Neither of us plans to revisit the trail. We did not miss the creek crossing. No bridge was there, just a steel cable to hold on to as the rain-swollen creek water went up to our knees. Correct: waterproof boots were unnecessary today!

Can’t wait to put cold, wet clothing back on in the morning. On the positive side, I do have a dry, second pair of socks and a dry pair of skivvies. And there is the possibility of a laundry on Saturday to get everything ready for the next leg.

Time for a nap.

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Day 95 – Weather

Start Milepost: 1704.0 Time: 07:45081717 - Moss
End Milepost: 1720.7 Time: 14:59
Miles hiked: 16.7
Miles to go: 469.1
Weather: sunny, chilly
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

Last night Relentless got up at midnight and closed our windows because he realized it was dang cold in our room (The previous night he closed them to keep rain out.) As we prepared to depart the lodge the weather app reflected that Killington’s temperature was 47 degrees. Nice and chilly for an August morning!

It was just yesterday that I remarked to Relentless that one of the nice aspects of hiking at this time of the hiking northbound hiking season was that we did not have to worry about our Sawyer water filters freezing overnight. If it freezes, say goodbye to filtered water. That was yesterday. Last night a young SOBO couple relayed some of their experiences in the White Mountains and particularly the Presidential peaks.

They spoke of 40 MPH winds and temperatures in the 40s a week ago. Add a week and or two and it could be an interesting hike for me as I across New Hampshire and southern Maine. All the more reason I am glad to be retrieving my gloves, beanie and puffy jacket on Saturday.

They also remarked about the dense cloud layers that form on the mountains. The fellow said he had difficulty picking out the trail and at one point was startled to have a building appear fifteen feet in front of him.

So, the hike is about to take on a variety of new dimensions: steep peaks, multiple peaks each day, widely varying weather, difficult logistics and heavier gear requirements. Add the urgency to stay on schedule and I have some challenging days ahead. So much for the mundane!

Relentless was at his best again today as we pushed to get our mileage finished early. The lodge breakfast was late being set up so we were almost an hour past our planned trail time. Even with the late start the temperature was still in the 40s as noted above so we wore an added layer of clothing (wind jackets) to help retain heat.

The next two days will feature low mileage since Relentless doesn’t have to be in Hanover to meet his wife until Saturday. Said low mileage will allow me some added rest time each day in preparation for the Whites. Like today; we were in camp at three o’clock and it is now just about supper prep time. I could be sleeping by 18:30 if the other hikers remain quiet.

OBTW. Low nightly temperatures have not reduced the mosquito population. They are all over the outside of the screen of my tent. Life on the trail….


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Day 94 – Slack Pack #5

Start Milepost: 1683.1 Time: 07:55081617 - 1700 Miles
End Milepost: 1704.1 Time: 17:10
Miles hiked: 21
Miles to go: 485.7
Weather: sunny
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Overnight: lodge
Map: Click on map pin

Jersey Judge picked us up at the hostel this morning just as we were finishing  breakfast. En route to the trailhead we learned several interesting facts about maple syrup. It takes forty gallons of raw syrup to produce one gallon of salable syrup. Buckets are no longer used to collect syrup unless the process is for tourists; trees are now hooked to a line of tubing that is hooked to a pump.

After being dropped at the trailhead we enjoyed a rather carefree hike for much of the day. Occasionally we would remark that we working hard to climb a given hill even with a virtually empty pack. And those observations brought us cheer!

We overtook Doc and Happy after several miles. For the first time in over a week they were no slack packing. Nevertheless there is an outside chance I will see them north of Hanover since they are planning to slack pack Mount Moosilauke as am I on the same day.

0781617 - 500 to go

500 miles to go to Katahdin

During our hike we saw two marker: one indicating 500-miles to Katahdin and the another indicating 1700-miles to Springer Mountain.

Scamper and I seem to have resolved the logistics issues in the Whites: two resupply boxes from home. I have also resolved that I will give up my rest day in Hanover, NH and hike a portion of what was going to be a 25-mile day leaving Hanover.

Supper tonight was a repeat of last night except we had hamburger and not pepperoni on the pizza. Caesar salad was great after dumping high calories of dressing on it. Each of us consumed a two liter bottle of soft drink – sans caffeine.

Today’s hike was just short of 21-miles. Tomorrow is much shorter but with packs containing all our gear. We will exit the lodge and head to Kent Pond where we stepped off the trail today.

My days with Relentless are running out. It has been very enjoyable. He has taught me some useful habits and techniques. I am not sure he is replaceable…. As a test, I took the lead on a rather level section of the hike today right after we took a short picture break. After a while I gave him the lead back and said I was not able to maintain the pace – I was performing beyond my age level. He snickered. I will have about a month to prove myself wrong.081617 - View

Final remark. We were at 4,000 feet today when we took our lunch break on Killington Mountain. In a matter of minutes I was chilly and had to put on a jacket. It took about 15-minutes to warm up once we got going again. It is August. The Whites may prove to be a resumption of March-like weather.

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