The Hardest Terrain I’ve Walked in 3,000 Miles
ECT Day 195&196
IAT Day 26&27
Day 195: 20 miles
This morning I packed up in the shelter quietly and was walking by 6:20am. I had a long way to go and knew that it was going to take me all day. I hiked for 2 hours and was literally moving at 1.5-2MPH tops. It was incredibly disheartening. I felt like I was moving in slow motion.
I stopped off to grab water towards the top of a climb. Then I continued on until I found a relatively flat spot to break. I did my stretching and had a snack. Because I’m moving slower than I expected I’m definitely going to have to ration food a bit. I thought I’d make it through in 5-6 days tops, but it’s definitely going to be 6 full days at least. I’ll be running low by then. So my plan for the next couple of days is to eat as little as I can without being too hungry.
From there I continued on and had a gradual climb. Then a very long and steep descent down to the Rivière Matane. Down by there river the trail crossed onto a road. There was a picnic area and a bridge. I dropped my pack and climbed down to grab water. Then sat for a bit by the bridge before I continued hiking.
After that I had to do a long climb up Mont des Clerks. It actually wasn’t too bad but still slowed me down a bit. Though I was able to maintain at least a 2MPH pace for most of the second half of the day.
I tried to stop off every 2 or so hours to do my stretching. It’s definitely been helping thankfully. I haven’t felt pain more than a 1/10 since leaving town. By the end of the day I was definitely a bit tired and sore though. Today I did 19 of the toughest miles of my life.
My last climb of the day was up Mont Craggy. And from there it was pretty much all downhill. Lately though the downhill has been taking me the longest. It can be so steep at times.
There was a shelter that I planned to stay at for the night. Camping options were limited so truly it was my only choice. The spur trail down was a mile which was a brutal way to end the day. But it was a loop back to trail so at least in the morning it would only be .3 miles to get back to the IAT.
I got down to the Mont Craggy Shelter around 6:45pm. The timing could not have been better because it was just about to get dark. No one else was there so I got set up inside. Something was scurrying around in the rafters but I tried to ignore it.
Once I was set up I did my stretching and ate some dinner. And around 7:30pm I heard a ton of commotion outside the shelter. There was a moose trampling around only 5 feet away from the shelter! The only thing dividing us was the plastic zipper door to enclose the shelter. I got to watch the moose through the clear plastic of the door. It was so close. You could never get so close to a moose normally. But I felt safe behind my plastic wall. Mostly because the moose didn’t know that I was there.
Once it walked away I returned to my dinner. Then I did a bit of writing before finally calling it a night. The animals in the rafters kept me up for a while but never did bother me.
Day 196: 15 miles
This morning I was walking by 6am once again. I knew it was going to be a brutally hard day so I had to start early. The terrain looks even tougher than yesterday somehow.
On the .3 mile spur trail from the shelter back to the IAT I saw 3 moose! Two ladies and one bull. What a way to start the day. I can’t believe that I’ve seen 4 moose in less than 12 hours.
The morning began with a short descent before a long climb. The climb went on for a while and took me so much longer than I expected. Even though I felt like I was making decent pace I was actually going 1.5 miles an hour. I pushed through from 6am-9:30am and only managed 5.5 miles. Holy heck. I had to stop for a break at that point by a shelter. Apparently Trucker and Sparkle stayed at this shelter 2 nights ago. They aren’t that far ahead!
I sat at the shelter for a while contemplating this walking. It’s been so disheartening going so slow. Today I hoped to do 20 miles just like yesterday. But at the pace that I’m going currently I’ll be lucky to manage 15 miles. The major issue is that I’m quite low on food. I’ve been under eating since I left town and am going to have to do that for the next few days. Especially if I slow down even more. That’s been the hardest part for me. The miles are tough and I’m hungry.
I wound up leaving the shelter around 10am and walked for another 2 hours. At this point I was making slightly better time. But at best I was only managing 2 miles per hour. All aspects of the trail were slowing me down. The entire trail was covered in deep mud to navigate around and the path was unbelievably steep at times. Today I also had to ford through two rivers which weren’t particularly deep, but it slows you down regardless. Not to mention how overgrown the trail is at times. I’ve been bushwhacking a lot.
Sometime in the afternoon I passed by two female animals that looked like elk? They must have been caribou but I didn’t get a great look before they ran off. I decided to stop off shortly after that in a big grassy field. It was the perfect place for a break. The trail has been so overgrown and muddy I wasn’t sure they I’d get a better opportunity.
While I was there I got some messages from Sparkle. The terrain has been killing them too so they only managed a 17-mile day yesterday. That means I’m not too far behind after all. She also let me know that a section of the trail that I’d be passing today was intense. It was an incredibly steep, wet, rocky, trail that passed by waterfalls. She said it slowed them down to 1-1.5 miles per hour. I couldn’t fathom that my pace could be any slower than it is now. But apparently it might slow down even more today!
From there I began the climb up Mont Nicol-Albert. It was actually quite easy making my way up. Then I began a long descent which was steep. The descent would go on for 5 miles and at some point I was going to hit the really slow section. The first few miles weren’t so bad, but then the terrain shifted drastically.
The trail got unbelievably steep and rocky. There were multiple areas with rope strung out to help lower yourself down. Some were easier than others. But at a couple of the ropes you had to put all of your weight on the rope. I literally had to throw my trekking poles down and repel with two hands down a 10ft high boulder. What a wild ride.
With about 2 miles of descent to go I decided to take a quick break. I knew those 2 miles were going to take me at least an hour. The terrain today has been no joke. It felt good to rest my body for a little while. I’m just still in awe of the day today. I’ve been hiking as hard and fast as I possibly can. And at best today I am going to make it 15 miles.
After my break I continued along the final couple of miles. It got a bit easier fortunately toward the end of the day. Near the trailhead I passed signs indicating that the trail I had just done was “difficult”. You can say that again. When I got to the shelter it was just starting to rain. A man was set up inside but I asked him if I could join him to escape the rain. He had no problem allowing me in the 4 person shelter.
He was from Toronto and told me about his trip and some other adventures. Then I went through my food to assess what I had left. It looks like I’ll be in town in 3 days, so I somehow need to make it last that long. But I’m cutting it unbelievably close.
While I did that the man asked if I needed any food. He had just picked up a resupply box but was getting off trail. So he had a whole box of food that he didn’t need. That amazing man let me dig through the box and take anything I wanted. I’m saved! I picked out 2 dehydrated meals, a bag of granola, and a jumbo bag of M&M’s. That should surely be enough to get me to the next town. What a relief!
For dinner I had a big dehydrated meal. That was probably the most calories that I’ve had in a single sitting in days. Then I stretched and wrote a bit before going to bed.
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