Woe is not me.
General update: The Whites are a real ass kicker. They’ve been beautiful, but you’ll notice by my daily mileage that I’ve slowed down A LOT. I’ve somehow managed to catch the bubble, and that is really nice. I know about 30 hikers behind me and at least 10 in front of me, so if I go faster or slower I’ll see some familiar friendly faces either way. It finally feels like we’re almost there and I’ve stopped crying every day. Woe is not me. When we still had 400 miles left, I felt like I would never get there. Now I’m getting closer every day…except today because I’m taking a zero. I’ve got less than a month to go. My foot is feeling better. It still hurts, but I no longer walk with a limp. I did a 28 hour slack pack and stepped in poop. You have officially been updated.
8/24/14 Days miles: 7.3
I went to Glenclif today to pick up my stove at the Hikers Welcome Hostel. I mailed my stove and 6 mountain houses forward to myself about a month ago. I’m excited to have it back. The Hikers Welcome Hostel says something about their DVD collection in the guidebook I have and they did not disappoint. They had hundreds of DVD’s. We watched Wedding Crashers and then Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in the morning. I love movie days!
8/25/14 Days miles: 9.3
The Hikers Welcome Hostel slack packed us over Mt. Moosilauke. It was our first “real” mountain we climbed. We’ve done higher mountains, but this one was about 4 miles of hiking straight up maybe a mile or so around the top, and about a 4 mile steep climb over rocks downhill. We made it to the bottom of the hill where we heard Miss Janet’s horn. She waited for us with a crew of about 6 other hikers. The 14 of us + Vision the German Shepherd piled into Miss Janet’s van and went to the grocery store. We picked a lot of food out from her list and brought it back to Chet’s place. Chet is a trail angel who basically runs a donations hostel out of his garage. Miss Janet and a few hikers made a huge dinner for everyone. We had bread and butter, hamburgers, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, and corn on the cob. It was delicious.
8/26/14 Days miles: 13.3 The 28 Hour Slack Pack
Miss Janet slacked us for a 16.3 mile hike today. We were told that it was 18 miles, but I checked over and over again and came up with 16.3 every time. Some fast boy hikers did the same slack the day before and it took them 10 hours. They said they took less than an hour in breaks. I was nervous about the slack, because I wouldn’t have any of my stuff in case I couldn’t make it. We are expecting bad weather next week, so I decided that I’d do it even if it meant finishing in the dark. Marathon stuck with me throughout the day. He likes to take his time and go slow and I…well, I’m just slow. My bruised bone in my foot doesn’t help. The sun went down at 8:00 and we pulled our headlamps out. I remembered that we had to take a side trail to a visitors center where we would walk another mile to Chet’s. That’s why that guy kept saying it was 18. So when it got dark we still had 6 miles to go and wouldn’t be getting in until around 11:00pm. That was fine. We saw headlights coming toward us and it was the first time I had ever seen any other night hikers while I was night hiking. It was 4 other guys from our bubble who had tried to do work for stay at the hut, but the hut only had room for 2. There are places called huts in the White Mountains that run for about $120 per person per night. The guests stay in bunk rooms and are fed breakfast and dinner. Us thru-hikers sometimes have the opportunity to do ‘work for stay’ and sleep on the dining room floor. You have to get there at just the right time though. If you get there too early, they’ll tell you to move on. If you get there too late, they probably won’t have room for you. Marathon and I decided we should take advantage of this opportunity. We got super lucky and made it in just before 9:00. Some of the guests were still awake playing cards. The ‘croo’ (3 college age kids who run the hut for the summer) said we could stay if we would sweep the bunk room in the morning. They gave us left over lasagna, peas, chicken, rice, soup, and apple cake. It was delicious. They pulled out a mattress and a blanket (which they don’t usually do) for me because I was slack packing. Marathon had his pack. We slept on the floor of the dining room. It was a great plot twist for the night. 8/27/14 Days miles: 3
So… We were woken up this morning at 5:45 to the sound of pots and pans banging and clanging. One of the girls that works at the hut got up to make breakfast for the guests as part of their daily routine and chores. We had to be out of the kitchen at around 6:00 so the guests could come in for breakfast and not see two dirty hikers sleeping on the floor. Some of the guests gave us granola bars, trail mix, grapes, clementines, hot chocolate, fruit punch, AND I scored a chicken a la king with noodles Mountain House. We ate breakfast, did dishes and swept for work for stay and then left to hike out. In town I found an outfitter that works with The North Face. My shoes are North Face and they are the only ones I’ve worn that don’t seem to give me blisters. They make my feet hurt, but hey! You win some, you lose some. Any who, the shoes are falling apart and it’s only been about three hundred miles. For $120 shoes, I should be getting at least 500 miles out of them. The store agreed to replace these exact ones IF they carried them and had my size (nearly impossible. I’ve only seen these shoes at 1 other outfitter and that was in Franklin, NC). They did have my shoes and they did have my size. Wonderful wonderful wonderful. I’ll be able to finish my hike in these and they saved me $120. Sweet. I’m exhausted, and I’m going on a snooze cruise in 5…4…3….2…
8/28/14 Days miles: 6.4
Our local friend and former AT thru hiker, Dick, that we met yesterday brought Skippy, Marathon, and me back to the trail in the morning. He stopped at Dunkin Donuts first, thank goodness. Pumpkin flavored everything is out! Yay. Turbo, who left the hostel later than us picked a sad me up on the side of the trail during a huge uphill climb and stuck with me for the rest of the day. Ireland ended up with us too. He’s a clinical physiologist from Ireland. He’s one of my faves. We call him the Sweeper because he’s the slowest and he’s consistent, so if any of us are lagging behind he sweeps us up. We hiked Franconia Ridge which was beautiful and incredibly windy. It took us 7 hours to do 6.4 miles. We decided we should try to get a work for stay at the Greenleaf hut. Malet and Turbo were already down there. The Hut Master allowed all 4 of us to do work for stay. We swept under the bunk mattresses and then ate soup, salad, rice, beef stir fry, fresh baked bread, and some kind of magic cookies for dinner.
8/29/14 Days miles: 6.6
The Whites are kicking my ass. I underestimated them. My average pace is 1 mile per hour, not including breaks. It’s okay though! I’ll get through them, it just may take a while.
8/30/14 Days miles: 14.8
Today was one of the few days where one can do a lot of miles in The Whites. There are miles of flat sections which made it a less difficult day. I headed down into Crawford Notch hoping to meet up with Beirut, Cheesesteak, and Turbo, but I had no service when I got down there. I had to hitch to the store by myself. A really nice couple in a rental car (people are more likely to pick you up on a rental car) picked me up and brought me to the store. They were dressed up and they joked that they were in the area doing some hiking, but really they were on their way back from a wedding. They dropped me off at the store and asked if I needed any cash. I would have accepted if they gave it to me, but I don’t need money so I said no thank you. They were so sweet. I knew there were hikers at the store somewhere because all of the outlets were being used. I found Smokey the Beard, Smurf, Fruit Punch, Merman, and Brace in the store and around the side of the building. They are my buddies. I’ve been leap frogging with them for a couple of weeks and they are hilarious. I had to hitch back to the trail around 7:30 just before it got dark. I asked a man in a mini van if he could give me a ride back to the trail. He opened the drivers side door to talk to whoever was in the front seat. I didn’t even know there was anyone in the front seat. It was his wife, Marisela. They said they could give me a ride and pressed the button to open the back door for me. There were three little ones all under the age of 5 in the back of the car sitting on cracker crumbs and watching Emperors New Groove. One of the boys scrambled into the back so I could have his cracker crumb covered seat and the 6 of us set out to the trail. Finding the trail in the dark is really freaking hard. I had them turn around 4 times. I felt so bad, but they were so nice about it and they didn’t want to drop me off on the side of the road in the dark. By the time we made it to the trail we were exchanging information, they told me where they were staying and to give them a call if I needed anything or needed to stay for a night, and I promised them a thank you card when I finished the trail. This is definitely up there with my favorite hitches.
8/31/14 Days miles: 6.3
I didn’t cry.
9/1/14 Days miles: 15
I finally got my trail legs back. I think that the lymes disease antibiotics were sucking the life out of me. I finished them last night and felt like myself again today for the first time in 2 weeks. Today I went over Mt. Washington, the second highest peak on the AT. At the top of Washington is a visitors center. It’s crazy. There were tourists EVERYWHERE (It’s Labor Day, btw). There’s a huge building with a cafeteria, bathrooms, separate floors, gift shop, and a post office. There’s a train called The Cog that brings visitors up. I mooned it. I think that’s what you’re supposed to do. Anyway, after walking here from Georgia and finally getting to the top of that mountain that barely fits on the page in my guide book, it’s so tall, this was the last thing I was expecting. I laughed and people watched for a good hour. I arrived at the Madison Hut Shelter around 6:30 to find 7 hikers already doing work for stay. 6 other hikers arrived shortly after, making a total of 13 thru hikers at the hut. One of the hut masters came out and said “Man! You guys are like locusts.” Pop, Spaghetti Monster, and I decided to move on to Osgood Campsite 3 miles away. The problem is that we were above the ridge line, and this guaranteed a night hike since the sun goes down at 7:30 now. We had a steep half mile up, and a steep 2.5 miles down. It took over three hours with no breaks and was easily the most difficult descent we’ve had yet. We got into camp just before 11:00pm.
We woke up at camp this morning and realized that Mighty Blue, TeeBird, Trillium, and Lighter Knot were also there. I am definitely in the big bubble now. Trillium told us that she fell asleep watching us come down the mountain last night. She thought we were stars and then she noticed the little lights she was seeing were slowly moving down. I did an easy 5 miles into town to meet my mom’s friend, Ruth. Ruth drove up from Vermont to take me out to lunch. It was just the pick me up I needed to raise my spirits. I was looking forward to it for days. Thank you Ruth! Heike, a German woman, and I stealth camped right outside of town. I stepped in poop and everything smelled like poop. And then I found 3 more poops around the campsite.
9/3/14 Days miles: 5
Miles to go: 313.5
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