May Thru August = 1,000 miles

Update at last:

Currently in New Hampshire and Botany (Noah) and I, now being called “Blossom,” were literally blown away by Northern Appalachia beauty!
Yesterday we climbed up and over Mount Madison through strong winds. It was a blast of reality.

Right now, I’ve found a slice of civilization at White Mountains Lodge and Hostel in Shelburne near a place called Gorham. It’s a town in which hikers can unwind after tackling the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. With about 1,000 miles on my feet since my last post, it seemed like time to take a break.

A bunch of smelly NoBo 2014 hikers procrastinating hiking the White Mountains.

A bunch of smelly NoBo 2014 hikers procrastinating hiking the White Mountains.

We have hiked about 15 miles consistently from July 28 until today – August 28. Our bodies desperately needed a break. Long distance hiking requires some down time. At least for me, I’ve realized how important zero days can be in determining whether I reach the highest peak in Maine – Katahdin. We anticipate our summit of Katahdin to be sometime in late September. By our calculations, we must hike at least 13 miles a day to finish the last week of September. It’s tough to pinpoint the exact date of your completion of the AT. In some sections of the hike we plan to do more than the minimum of 13 miles. That would hasten our return.

Upper Goose Pond let's hikers take a canoe out for a float.

Upper Goose Pond let’s hikers take a canoe out for a float.

Speaking of returning home, we actually already did that. It was bizarre to have hiked for days to a certain point only to return in less than 24 hours.

Prior to July 28, we traveled back home to attend a wedding. We took a total of seven zero days, but we were consistently in transit – just not by foot. We started our journey back home after hiking to Pawling, NY. From there we took a train to NYC, ran across Manhattan to board a bus to Philadelphia and the next day drove to Tennessee with my friend Brandilyn Hamm.

She planned her return trip to where she lives in Philly to match our plans. She goes down in my AT trail angel list along with Miss Janet, Trail Angel Mary to name only two more of hundreds.

We spent a day in Philly before returning to NYC to stay the night with my friend Katie, who lives in Brooklyn. After that we were ready to tackle the rest of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and about half of New Hampshire.

I learned about slag in Connecticut, realized I wanted to start bagging the highest state peaks after climbing Mt. Greylock in MA, had a serendipitous meeting with a fellow Tennessean who moved up north in Vermont and experienced the alpine ecological zone in the White Mountains of NH.

Mt. Greylock - the highest peak in Massachusetts

Mt. Greylock – the highest peak in Massachusetts

The White Mountains have seriously reinvigorated the hiking experience for me. There’s so much history to be found in these mountains. As much as I love the history of the Southern Appalachians, it’s been so exciting to learn about the northern range.

More specifically, I’ve taken a great interest in the Appalachian Mountain Club hut life. The hut system throughout the Whites was such an educational and thought-provoking experience for me. I aspire to take on a seasonal job with a hut “croo.” I learned that they pack most of the supplies to the eight huts that are scattered among the mountains. The hut that garners the most attention is called Lakes of the Clouds and it sits within a mile of Mt. Washington’s summit. We were aiming to get a work-for-stay position there, but we knew of about 20 hikers headed there hoping for the same experience. Instead we aimed to work at Madison Spring Hut, which is located where the very first hut was built. Our work-for-stay position was to give a presentation about through hiking the Appalachian Trail to the hut guests. As a reporter back home, I’m used to asking the questions. This experience was uplifting. The attention was nice and I felt knowledgeable on a specific subject. I know I am not finished hiking or learning, but I felt my advice was meaningful to the audience.

Much like the huts, there are many great places to visit along the AT in the AWOL and ATC guides, I’ve found that the most special places and faces have been found through word-of-mouth. Maybe some of these folks don’t want to be in the guides or they are just too nomadic. Regardless, they are the people who make this adventure feel more real, communal and exclusive.

I didn’t realize how much energy the trail requires. I think I overwhelmed myself with extracurricular activities between writing a column for the Elizabethton Star back home and this blog. However, I hope the posts that follow make up for my absence.

More photos can be found on at this Facebook link.

Take care,
“Blossom” (formerly Pending)

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