Blues Angels – Days 76 thru 80

Blues Angels

During this 5 day period I was much more depressed than the accounts let on. It was a very hard time for me. The terrain was much more difficult than I ever imagined. The weather was less than ideal. Those around me, especially Meriwether, knew I was having a hard time and worked hard to help.

Ellen, our Elrond, was our first angel in this area who rescued us. Her rescue led us to meet Worthless, who won’t show up until the next installment, is our second angel in this area. Their assistance in this time of hardship has been so amazing.

If the opportunity to show even a tiny bit of kindness ever presents itself to you, please know that it will be forever remembered and appreciated. Ellen and Worthless demonstrated perfect kindness at the exact time I needed it and for that I will be forever grateful to them.

I am doing much better now, nearly back to my super happy hiker self. Thanks for reading.

Day 76 – Imp Campsite to US Rt 2 / Sortore Home

It did not rain last night. Meriwether’s sleeping pad, however, developed a slow leak and she had to blow it back up several times during the night. Her gear failures, injuries, and thigh deep mud encounters are much worse for me than her. I feel so bad when stuff like that happens to her. I am very proud of her resilience and wish mine was as strong.

We were on the trail at 5 AM, at our current hiking rate, we needed to be on the trail that early to meet Ellen at the parking lot by 1 PM.

The first few miles were New Hampshire tough rewarded with New Hampshire views. Then the trail turned very non New Hampshire and we were at the parking lot by 11. The brook we hiked along for the last few miles is known for its swimming holes. Meriwether tried to get me to take a dip, I told her let’s wait until Georgia.

At the parking lot, I got a ride with a shuttle into the post office in Gorham where I picked up a bunch of food and our new tent. A kind lady in the parking lot offered me a ride back to the trail. Before she offered, I explained my situation and asked for the ride.

Ellen showed up right on time and took us to her home. Her beautiful home at the top of a hill with magnificent views. We took inventory, went to the post office to mail our old tent and a bit of other gear home, the grocery store, and the local outfitter for a new sleeping pad.

Dinner was fabulous. Chicken and Steak. Salad. Broccoli. Beets. Best meal since Waynesboro.

Tomorrow we will be ready to get back on the trail. Mile 1200 is pretty close, our longest 100 miles. Maine is pretty close too.


Day 77 – US Rt 2 / Sortore Home to Gentian Pond Shelter

Yesterday we mailed home a bunch of stuff. Our old tent, my gloves, thick socks, and thermals. Meriwether sent a bunch of her colder weather clothes home as well as her Kindle. I was surprised she sent the Kindle home.

Eating dinner last night on the Sortore’s upper deck we spied a bear coming up to the house. The bear was not very big, I probably could have taken it. Ellen and her son, Aaron, thought it was only a year old. It investigated the grill for awhile then wandered off.

Being in a real bed, I slept really well. No alarms were set, but we were wide awake by 5. We ate breakfast for about two hours. Coffee, banana nut bread, fruit, granola. The granola was homemade and was the best I ever had.

I would say the time with Ellen was our grandest trail magic. It was completely unexpected, Ellen actively tracked us down using Meriwether’s social media feed as well as spending hours on the trail talking to other thru hikers that happened to know us.

We did not get back on trail until after 11 AM. Today turned out to be like the Southern Appalachians, there were a couple rock scrambles and places where we had to slide on our butts. Mostly the trail was gentle rolling with a nice pine needle covering that was easy on the feet.

We reached out intended campsite so early that we decided to head to the next one. We arrived pretty late, the sky got dark with clouds and some fog blew in, both slowing us down because it was difficult to see the wet rocks.

These are starting to be more common. Is there a Moose in there?

I think we will get to Maine tomorrow and do Mahoosuc Notch and Arm the next day. There is no cell service here, the weather report from this morning was not great for the next few days. I am a bit frightened right now, but my rock is beside me. I am thankful that my wife is here with me, I don’t think I would have gone on this adventure by myself.

Day 78 –  Gentian Pond Shelter to Full Goose Campsite 

As it was raining when we woke there was no rush to get out of the sleeping bags or to leave the campsite. We made such good time yesterday and today we are doing less miles, all would be good.

As it turns out today was all about climbing sketchy rock faces, walking across bog boards, climbing down sketchy rock faces, walking across bog boards, repeat, over and over. Sometimes there weren’t any bog boards, other times the bog boards sank when stepped on. Not any section was that bad by itself but the pattern went on and on.

You cannot see the bogs and lack of boards on the trail below.

At one point Meriwether broke down. Not really broke down, more like had a moment. She was scared that one of us was going to get hurt and the other was going to have to figure out what to do. Not good to be either of those. There were a few slips and falls today but nobody got hurt.

Today is the first day that I would have gladly gone home if it was an option. Fortunately New Hampshire is done and I understand that Maine is hard, but not as hard as New Hampshire.

The author naively thinking things will get easier on the other side of the line.

I am thankful that right now, my wife and I are fairly dry and safe in a shelter in Southern Maine.

Day 79 –  Full Goose Campsite to Old Spec Pond Shelter 

If Meriwether broke down / had a moment yesterday, today was my turn. New Hampshire was hard, it is still hard in Maine. The rocks are wet and slippery, hands and feet are required in many places, mentally this part is very taxing.

Bear Claw was at the shelter with us last night. He is fun to be around but is hiking about twice as fast. Oh to be 25 again.

Today we tackle the Mahoosuc Notch then the Arm. It is raining. I stowed my trekking poles before we left the shelter because they are useless in the Notch which is just 1.5 miles away.

We were crossing some bog boards, I stopped for a moment and my mind wandered. The next moment I was laying on my side in the bog. Fortunately this was not a deep bog, it was more sand than mud. I cried. Falling in the bog was no big deal, but added to the physical and mental exhaustion was more than I could handle. I’m fine now.

The rest of the day went well. I wish it had been sunny and warm. The Notch was a lot of fun, the icy parts were slippery. Climbing up the arm was long and difficult, but nowhere near a difficult as some of the climbs over the last week.

That arrow, one of many today, means “yes, this is really the correct way, a rational person would not go here, but the trail does.”

Tomorrow we are supposed to resupply in Bethel. Hopefully we will spend the night there too.

I am thankful that everything is temporary. The stress we are experiencing now will be laughed at later. This hard time will pass and a more enjoyable time will come.

Day 80 – Old Spec Pond Shelter to Grafton Notch / Bethel Village Motel

I was stuck this morning. I was warm and dry and very comfortable in my quilt and sleep clothes. Getting up meant putting on cold wet swamp smelling clothes. How can I make it less uncomfortable? Not possible.

Once we got going and I warned up my mood lifted a bit. We still needed to figure out how to get into Bethel and find a place to stay. At the top of Old Spec Mountain I got texts out to 3 shuttle drivers. They all responded and one could meet us at our estimated time to the parking lot.

There was only one, fairly long, bog crossing today. One foot sank shin deep one time, otherwise the crossing was OK. The climbs up and down wet rock, because it is raining, appear to be getting easier. My mental state, however, remains low. This is not easy.

We made it to the parking lot 30 minutes before our shuttle was to arrive. There is a covered kiosk we stood under until she arrived.

Nancy, the shuttle driver, came prepared with hot herbal tea. It is a fairly long drive to Bethel and Nancy had good stories to fill the time. She took us straight to Ruthie’s / Bethel Village Motel where we got a very comfortable room that included Ruth doing our laundry.

Check out those new pants! Purchased for sleeping, also perfect for town.

We lunched at the bakery next door, large ham and cheese sandwiches, brownies, and muffins. Excellent!

The grocery store is on the other side of the motel, so we went straight there from lunch for resupply. Worthless, a hiker we met a few days ago, was in the store. He is going to try to get to the trail at the same time as us tomorrow. It will be nice to have someone else around.

Ruthie said she needed to wash our clothes twice, they still smelled bad after the first washing. A bit of white vinegar added to the second washing did the trick. I would say that’s pretty good service.

We spoke with our younger son and his wife this evening. They are doing well and it was great to hear their voices. We spoke to our older son several days ago. He and his wife are doing well too.

I am going to bed in a real bed, well fed, and clean. Thanks.

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Comments 1

  • Phyllis G : Jun 14th

    Potluck, I am praying for you and Merriweather and your travelling companion. Please remember: YOU GOT THIS! Call on Jesus and his angels to help. I am proud of you and Merriweather!


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