Once More into the Fray: Hiking the Cohos Trail
“Hey, Erica,” my boss started. “We’ve noticed that you seem a bit burned out. We’re overstaffed for next shift so we’re going to have you sit this one out.”
It wasn’t an option, it was the way it was going to be. As the conversation ended and I hung up the phone, I felt a mix of shame and disappointment. The fact that I had let myself get to the point where my bosses had to tell me to take time off is a classic example of my tendency to overwork myself. I love my job. As a wilderness therapy guide I have the privilege of bringing kids into the woods every other week to help them learn how to manage things like depression and anxiety. Having one shift off meant having three weeks of nothing to do.
Three weeks of nothing to do…
Slowly, my disappointment turned to excitement. Three weeks of nothing to do had potential, possibilities. Possibilities of things that I’d been thinking of since I finished my last thru-hike. Namely, another thru-hike.
It had to be short. I wouldn’t be able to leave for a few days, cutting my time down to about 15 days. It couldn’t be too far away either, or logistics would get tricky. Luckily, I had already been researching the perfect thing.
The Cohos Trail
I’d first heard of the Cohos trail after finishing the AT. 170 miles of trail extending from Route 302 in the heart of the Whites to the Canadian border with New Hampshire. Remote and not well known, it would be the perfect thing to remedy my burnout. According to the Cohos Trail Organization’s website, I’m more likely to encounter moose than humans.
New Hampshire is most known in the hiking community for the Whites and the 4,000 footers, but the Cohos Trail only hits four of those peaks. Instead, it highlights some of the lesser-known places, such as the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, the Kilkenny, the Nash Stream Forest, Dixville Notch, and the Connecticut Lakes. Although I’ve lived in NH most of my life, I’ve never been to the majority of these places. It goes without saying that the stoke level is high right now.
Although most of my gear from the AT will stay the same, I’m making a few changes as well.
Sleep system: On the AT, I carried the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL 2, a tent weighing in at around three pounds. Since working in wilderness therapy, I’ve learned the benefits of using a simple tarp setup. On the CT, I will be subbing my tent with the Eno ProFly Rain Tarp, plus the ground cloth for my tent. This change cut two pounds off my base weight.
Food cup: Unfortunately, the lid to my XPot Kettle broke while I was on the AT. So I’ll be replacing it with a cup I got from work.
Maps and guides: I’ll be bringing a waterproof topological map of the Cohos Trail and a PDF guide on my phone. This differs from the AT because I brought the entire AWOL guide with me.
The bare necessities: I brought a lot of unnecessary stuff on the AT, most of which I’ll be leaving behind for this trip. Including: Therm-a-Rest ZLite, camp clothes, a multi-tool, the majority of the first-aid kit, and an extra cup.
All of these substitutions and subtractions have drastically changed my base weight. On the AT, my base weight was roughly 30 pounds. (Don’t judge; it made me strong and I carried it well.) My new base weight is 19 pounds.
So It Begins
In a mere three days I will leave to start the CT. It’s kind of funny, because I planned my AT thru-hike for years before I left. The CT is so far proving to be completely spontaneous. I just found out yesterday that I’d have this coming shift off. Regardless of the mechanism, here I go again, once more into the fray.
If you’d like to follow along or have any questions/comments, you can find me on Instagram @the.spitfire or shoot me an email at [email protected]
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