Blog Posts

What a Feeling – Irene Cara

this is a long post……but worth it!

On the morning we were to climb Katahdin we were all pretty excited to get going. All packed up and ready to go by 6 am. There was a quick stop at the ranger station. You can borrow a day-pack or just leave some of your things there. This was pretty nice since there was really no need to haul everything up there and back. Now the climb is only about 5.2 miles, however this is the AT so yeah. All the fast kids took off as soon as we hit the trail, I fell back. It’s kinda like a race remember to go your own pace. Sparkle is from Boston and offered to give us a ride out of the park afterwards. The plan was to hike the Hunt Trail up then hike the Abol trail down to the campground. Everyone said the Abol trail was shorter, yea, later I would find out it’s also the steepest descent!

I was cool with hiking alone, it was time for me to process the fact that this was it the big finish. The trail started out just fine….then came the boulders.  Not surprised, it never gets easy the last day should be hard too, consistency. So I checked my map, only 2.3 miles to go! Yes I can do that. Pushing hard, I pulled my using the metal hand holds anchored in the rocks. Sweating, breathing hard and swatting those annoying bugs I leaned on a boulder. Now I’m not great with guessing distances but I felt I was really moving. So I checked the map, bad idea. 2.0 miles to go, WHAT!?! That .3 had felt like a mile. The steeper, exposed climb and alpine section were still ahead. oh no.

My mind took over….crap everyone is gonna summit and be down, what if they leave me? I know I can make it but when? Wait wasn’t there talk of rain, what if a storm rolls in? What if there is no Santa Claus? ahhhh. Just then I glanced a saw Glowworm climbing up behind me! “Hey chardonnay, you can do this.. congrats on that triple crown..he said passing me.”  Mentally when you’re not in a good-place on trail, it’s the other hikers you draw strength from, solo hiker or not.  With that I was moving, behind the boys (again), but moving. I’d see the others coming down as I still climbed, but their words of encouragement and a hurry up gave me wings!!

katahdin sign

My first glimpse of the sign, it stopped me in my tracks.

Like a highlight reel it all flashed through my mind. All that I had done to get there, all that I had given up, been through, suffered through, the highs and the lows. I’d do it all again…well most of it. Now let me get a picture and get off this mountain!

My elation was short lived…on the way down I stumbled, ok fell, cut up my hand. There was blood, I would live. But it did not help with the steep climb down. At the bottom everyone was waiting…..and there was cold soda, chips, and sandwich’s!

So there I sat drinking warm Chardonnay, swatting bugs…..now what?

 

 

Thank you for the music -ABBA

Pretty much my last day in the 100 mile wilderness, it rained. For like 20 miles I hiked in the rain. I was not all that happy about it, mostly because it would rain then kinda stop, then start again. Wearing the Frogtogg poncho I snagged from a hiker box, I draped my other poncho over my pack. As if I wasn’t wet enough I tripped getting mud all over my skirt. That was also about the time when I realized I’d lost my bandanna all my friends had signed.

Needing a distraction I put on some tunes. Lauren Hill sang as the trail winded around lakes (heck it might have been the same lake). Maine is like Minnesota great trails, lots of lakes and a gazillion bugs! Next up Christina Aguilera’s Dirty, rain or not you just gotta dance to that! So I did, right thru the puddles straight to the shelter. I immediately set up my tent (in the shelter) and climbed into my sleeping bag in a wet skirt and top. I knew my body heat would dry them over night, the wet socks and pants were left out to fend for themselves.

There were a bunch if soggy southbounders at the shelter too. Strange listening them chat as they begin their thru hikes while my hike comes to an end. There was so much I didn’t know when I started my first thru hike. Maybe its better that way. Too much prep and info spoils the surprise. Embrace the suck and be open to fact there is more to learn.

Me & Hummingbird!   Rain drove us into the shelter but didn’t dampen our fun!

The next morning I pulled on wet socks and started the process of getting to Katahdin, and it is a process. Step1 hike 3 miles to the camp store for an all you can eat breakfast. Step2 discuss with hikers how many hikers are going to be at campsite and how many are actually allowed; even though no one knows for sure either number. Step3 get so full you forget to buy dinner, snacks or summit food. Doh! Step4 Enjoy a beautiful sunny 10 mile hike to the hiker reserved campsite. Step5 sign up with ranger to climb Katahdin… So glad to spend my last night in the woods with a cool bunch of hikers because tomorrow is summit day! Even Hummingbird was there, I hadn’t seen her since Vermont!

20180629_080331Mt Katahdin!!

Magic- Olivia N. John

“You have to believe we are magic
Nothin’ can stand in our way.
You have to believe we are magic
Don’t let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Your destiny will arrive”

So its day 3 or 4 in the 100 mile wilderness. Its hard to say really the days blurr together. Hike-Eat-Sleep (try not to trip and die) repeat. I get up with the sun grab my cold coffee/carnation breakfast drink, stuff everything in my pack and hike.
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After the short mile day due to rain/hail I was excited to get going. I knew once I climbed over the White Cap mountain I could pull some higher miles. The boys (Sparkle, Gloworm, Newt & Walkietalkie) flew by me on the climb. They are all thru hiking the entire trail. I have a new respect for anyone who does the whole AT in one hike. This trail can grind you down, it takes a lot to push through. Their encouragement as they passed fired up my motivation. (They pass me a lot!) It was an enjoyable 18 mile day, plus I snagged a sweet camp spot right near a beautiful river! I didn’t even care my batteries were all failing (headlamp, phone and back up charger) or that my water filter bag sprung a leak.

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Remember when I gave my food away to hiker running low? Well the trail does provide….the next day at the first road crossing a surprise! Fresh Grounds LeapFrog Cafe was all set up, I had a tasty cheeseburger hot off the grill!!

 

Thanks again FreshGround! The best trail magic is a surprise! With snacks in my pack and a burger in my belly I was ready to make a run for Kathadin!!

In the Wilderness- Genesis

20180623_090705So this is how the 100 mile wilderness went…

First off i was all hyped to be going it alone, into the wilderness. Nope. Holy crap there are a lot of folks in the “wilderness”. For instance i never camped alone, which was weird but fine. First night i set up my tent, i was just not feeling the people in the shelter. This guy had a gun and was all “better to have it and not need, than need it and not have it.” Really, I’m a girl with a broken pocket knife…you’ll be fine. I high tailed out of there, wet tent and all, pretty early. I wanted some miles between me and pistol packin pete.

I hiked 16 miles to the next shelter, i was the only one there..for like a minute. I pitched my tent in in a bad spot and did a crappy stake job. It rained, EVERYTHING was wet or really damp. My bad. Dragged my pack to the shelter, then after the drizzle stopped went back for the soggy tent. Meanwhile i meet this dude, southbound hiker:

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I try to ask people “whats your story?” It gives people the opportunity to tell what they choose to share instead of playing 20 questions. Well, boy did he have a story. I wont share because its detailed and not mine to tell. But he asked me to take his picture, oh and he was low on food so i gave him some ramen. (Should’ve checked first…that left me with only 1 hot dinner for myself).

I wished him well and quickly hiked 10 miles or so to the next shelter…because it was gonna storm, again. I set my tent up IN the shelter and hung things to dry. Then the rain and hail started. The shelter and tent sites filled fast.

Two things i feel i should explain 1) yes i put my tent up in the shelter, however my tent takes up the same amount of room as if i just threw down my pad. 2) i do it because of mice dont want them crawling on me and the bugs and mosquitoes are mad intense out here. They drive me bananas. Tried sleeping with a bug net on, nope.

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The Middle- Jimmy Eat World

“Hey / Don’t write yourself off yet / It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on”

So I’m mixing things up a bit. Headed into the 100 mile wilderness northbound. Then back to southbound the the rest, since my flight is out of Portland anyway. I’ve been a bit anxious, tired and emotional (pacemaker gave me her bacon this morning and i teared up, agh) Everyone’s pretty excited about finishing and the triple crown. My head/heart just isn’t there, yet. The end is near, almost.

Like the hills out here my emotions have been up and then down. I feel unsteady and unsure like the rocks under my feet. Even though there is predicted rainy weather ahead I’m good with being on trail and i hate hiking in the rain. Hoping these next will will be instrumental in sorting myself out.

Yesterday was stressful trying to find my box. After a frustrating call or two it was found, right where it was supposed to be. Thanks Kassy, now I have everything a girl could need for 100 miles in the woods!!

Great stay at Shaws hostel, amazing breakfast and they are very helpful. So onto the wilderness…..see ya on the flip side.

Lonely Together -Avicii

In the end we are our stories…..
We (Coco, Nemo and i) stayed 2 nights at the Human Nature Hostel (maybe it was the bacon wrapped scallops and beet salad dinner that convinced us, seriously so good. It also kept us out of the rain storm) If you happen to be in Roxbury, NH check it out. We slack packed( day’s worth of thru-hiking without a full pack) 10 miles the second day, then did laundry and showered again! Then a quick run to the store for food resupply.

Food resupply is getting tricky. My daytime appetite is still wonky. Towns are getting further from trail, so I need to carry/eat more food so I can keep hiking. Getting on trail by 6am I can feel myself shutting down about 3pm. Then it’s all I can do to stumble to camp to eat…..corn chips and cheese. I have a pack full of corn chips and cheese, also carnation instant breakfast..hmmm.
Tomorrow we hike 14 miles, then I will leave Coco and Nemo they are going into town. We’ve had a string good days hiking together, hate to see them go. They are both finishing off AT section hikes too! See you on the Camino!

No Rain, No Pain, No Maine….

So there’s been pain and rain….guess who’s in Maine!! Man, New Hampshire did not ease up. I survived the White Mtns and the Presidential range, but my shoes did not. I got to the town of Gorham, stayed the night to rest but rolled ankle and get new shoes. I bush whacked my way up to the AT and ran into some old buddies!

 

My hiker bubble now also includes Nemo, Coco, Rainbow and Sketch. Good group, we hike are own pace ending up at the same shelter. Hard to believe I’m in Maine, the days are flying by…two days ago I went through Mahoosac Notch (one of the hardest and most fun sections of the AT). It was certainly fun. It was not hiking…It was straight up rock/boulder scrambling. Now the Mahoosac Arm after it was a grueling climb up 1500 ft in under a mile.

 


That was tough I was so happy to get to the shelter and SIT DOWN. It was a good day. With a storm coming we hiked out at 5am, but still got rained on as we summited. Nemo and I crossed the bald with ponchos whipping in the wind and rain. Then with the help of ropes & ladders decended. With our new found speed we covered 9 miles and got to the shuttle stop 3 hours early!!

 

Luckily ‘Sherpa’ stopped, on his way home from fishing, and offered us a ride (and beer). Staying at the Human Nature Hostel, it’s a cool wooden geodesic dome with a huge hot shower and WIFI!! I’m easy to please. Plus the owner has been on Naked and Afraid like multiple times!

 

It’s weird I’m not tired but my knees and feet hurt. When I get tired I think of this young lady I met on trail. She works at the Carter Notch hut. Supplies have to be hiked in. She was carrying 2 turkeys, dry goods and a body pillow, uphill for 3.6 miles with this contraption. She was so cheery and happy when I met her at the top! It made me happy and I still had to climb!

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Up & Up – Coldplay

I’ve been meaning to post, but well things change by the minute out here. So here’s what’s up.

So Moosilauke was my biggest nightmare. It took me just as long getting up as it did coming down. It was tough. Slippery rocks and roots that reach up an grab. I tumbled and fell so many times I lost count. My knees and ankles really hurt, but I survived to climb again, immediately thereafter. I tried to make the shelter where everyone was headed  but no. So I hiked/camped alone for quite a while. It is really hard to just camp out here, you are like always on the side of a mountain and there’s lots of brush.

I’ve been trying to pick up the pace. Found myself a little bubble of cool people. They all have trail legs cuz they have been hiking since Georgia or Harper’s Ferry. I was concerned about the White/Presidential Mountains the climbs are tough for me but I was super happy to be above tree line! I was avoiding the huts as the work for stay is confusing.

The huts are nice but at $100 a night, woah. They allow thru hikers to work then stay in the dinning room but it makes for a tiring evening. I rather stealth camp or pay $5 at a camp site.

Mother nature was on my side and I was feeling good on the climb to Mt. Washington. I put my tunes on and danced my way up. It’s bike week here so there were tons of Harley clad bikers at the top. (Yes, you can drive up or take a cog train!)


I should have did less dancing because the downhill took a bit. Instead of making the campsite I only made it to the next hut! So guess who did work for stay? It wasn’t bad, I got chicken, rice, peas and dessert. Then I did some dishes. Some other hikers came in 5 of us stayed the night. They clarified I was near the end of the group, but a guy named Fresh Ground would be doing trail magic the next day.

My love of being above tree line ended the next morning. We climbed up and over Madison at 4000 feet with 50 mpg winds. That wind catching your pack while balancing on uneven rocks, ok, ok back in the trees.

When I hit Pinkcom Notch I was back in knee ankle pain territory, and none to excited about hiking up Wildcat on the other side. But a true trail angel was waiting to lift my spirits!

Fresh Ground has been moving along with this pack of hikers for awhile. He had real ground beef cheese burgers, cookies, fruit, pie, chips..I said just a tiny burger, he made a huge one and said ‘you need this’. I did. Thank you, Fresh Ground.

These are the days you hike through the crap for. People like Fresh Ground (he is all the way up here from N. Carolina) that go out of there way to make your journey better. I spent the afternoon chatting and eating with current/previous hikers. I should have hiked on (as there is rainy weather looming) but I just couldn’t go.

So…..I’m stealth camping tonight with some others at the tail of the group. Tomorrow I will tackle the Wildcat climb and as much of the 21 miles between here and Gorham as I possibly can before the rain.

Everyone knows I am going for my triple crown, I feel pressure to be faster or better. It’s pressure I admittedly put on myself. I know, hike your own hike right….

Roar – Katy Perry

Laying here in the hostel bed, everyone’s sleep but me. Can’t sleep, in the morning I will wish I had. Tomorrow we tackle Moosilauke and enter the White Mountains. I have no idea what challenges are ahead but I know they are out there.

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I try to sound confident and casual as I talk with other hikers. But my own concerns and fears I keep to myself. It’s been nice at the hostel meeting other hikers but it also makes me anxious. Hiking alone up till now I make my own pace, distance and choices. Now that I’ve met people I feel a pull to keep up, I feel slow.

Deep down I know the trail is about to school me. This next section will be physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, truth.

Become the Mountain Lion by refusing to hide in the cave of your own shyness or uncertainty. Roar with conviction roar with power and remember to roar with laughter for balance.

Thats what my cards read before I left. Really I pull the Mountain lion card! Couldn’t I have pulled the sloth or maybe a turtle. Fine (clears throat) I’m ready roar.

What I think I’m like roaring…

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Reality….

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I’m Not Ok (I Promise) -My Chemical Romance

I escaped the Hanover vortex. It can be so hard to leave the comforts of town. After dinner with friends, trail angel pampering, even a neighborhood birthday party, who wants to head back in the woods! I slack packed the 8 miles into Hanover with Liz, it was fun hiking and chatting with a West coast buddy. Liz was in Maryland when I first did the AT now she lives in New Hampshire. Thanks for everything Liz!


I dragged myself up to the Moose Mtn shelter and had it all to myself so I set my tent up inside. It rained the next morning so I was glad. The rain let up so I took off, made a run for the cabin at tge base of the fire tower. The last mile was a killer, so many slippery rocks. Got to the cabin at 8 pm.

I had high hopes of making it to the hostel the next day. That didn’t  happen got within 3 miles and crashed in a camp spot with another hiker, Gardener. After getting rained on and a climb I was happy to stop. I had been hoping for hot noodles but I only had flavored water (since i hadn’t planned on camping). Not matter how cold you are hot ramen and mashed potatoes with flavored water is NOT good. I forced it down.

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Mmm, cherry flavored dinner!

It was a quick hike into the hostel the next morning, it was super early but ran into my first southbounders!
It’s about to get real. Next up….Moosilauke and the White Mountains. Man, I should have trained more, these climbs are torture. Moosilauke is a rough 4,800 ft climb and treacherous. Yeah. With the current dreary wet, chilly weather I have some concerns. Picked up a fleece from the hiker box as there are rumors of snow on Mt. Washington, I hope not, geez.

They say you pack your fears and cold is mine. Soon enough I’ll be whining about the heat & humidity, oh AT why must you toy with me? No rain, no pain, no Maine.