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.

Too Hot -Kool in the Gang

First I want to give a shout out to the couple from LA that gave me a lift into Bennington thanks for dropping me right where I needed to be! Also to Andrea who was not going my direction but went 30 mins out of her way to get me to town.

Now, after Bennington why did I have to go to town again so soon? Well this is the part of the hike where things start to go wrong. First my tent zipper decided to go south. Fine not really a big deal, it kinda zips so I can manage. But then sitting in my tent the next evening my sleeping pad decides it’s done. Really? Yes really. It just deflated. FML oh well, guess I’m trying to get to Hanover to find patches or a replacement. Thus is life on the trail…..

But wait there’s more, it was cold for like a minute…then it got hot and humid, really humid, then it rained. I got heat rash (I guess, never had it before & I’m not doctor) so I kept hiking, of course…it got worse. It was painful, I was walking funny but I got to Hanover an things turned around.

A trail angel took me to Lebanon to get a new pad then dropped me at Bill & Betsy’s house. I met their son Karl on the PCT ’15! Betsy and her husband live practically an the AT, hosting hundreds of hikers (I’m the first this year!) After a shower & laundry we chatted over the best thai salad I’ve ever had.

The trail is tough and at times painful. Hiking with a girl I just met ‘hummingbird’ (she’s from sun valley, id) we joked about why we even put ourselves through this. We didn’t come up with a clear answer.

What I do know is I’m touched by the generosity of people every time I’m out here. The simplest act of kindness can mean so much, rippling out to many others.

East coast, West coast, Mexico, Canada, black, white….we are all connected. Now what up with this weather?

Ain’t no mountain high enough – The Supremes

So, it was a rough start. The trip to the trail wore me out. Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts is high enough at 3,491′ the highest peak in the state. I decided to rehike it. (At the summit is where I got off trail last time) Why, not sure. Maybe I thought I needed a kick in the pants. Well I got it. I planned to get water at Bascom Lodge at the top….it was closed, doh! Two other southbound hikers were there looking for water also, so I wasn’t the only one that didn’t read the closed note in the guide.

 

 

They told me there was a spring ahead and plenty of water in Vermont. That could be good and not good. (Trail tip: if you see water…get it, do not wait) I had to drag myself 4 miles before I got water. Geez, you’d think this was my first gig.

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Veterans Memorial – Mt. Greylock

After rehydrating, setting up in a really nice camp site, I slept well. Even with the water mishap and a super climb it was a pretty good hike. I got to see my first bear, he was in hurry and took off, rude. Oh and I saw a porcupine got a fuzzy zoomed in photo, yeah I wasn’t getting any closer.

 

 


So I’m back on trail…and in Vermont (aka Vermud, very muddy my kicks are getting dirty) The AT and the Long trail run together for the next 100 or so miles! So I’ve run into a section hiker and some northbound thru hikers, I will probably never see them again they have trail legs. I’m moving at a snails pace but finding my groove. It is way warmer out here than I expected and those little bugs are out full force. At least they don’t bite but they are annoying AF.

Next up..The Green Mountains, hmmm more climbing. Sweet baby Jesus give me strength!

Thank you for being a friend -Andrew Gold

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People often ask how am I able to take time off and hike the trail for month(s). Well I say, I work hard and a lot. However, there’s another bigger part of the equation. People. By people I mean family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. My family doesn’t completely understand what I do and my mom wishes I didn’t do it at all!! But like every other crazy adventure that I take off on they support me even when they are not sure how.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again, I have the BEST friends. They have shown up every freakin time, financially and emotionally. Whatever I needed and things I didn’t know I needed. When I needed extra work friends hired me, when I needed a place to live pre/during/post trail they took me into their homes, they gifted me gear and threw going away parties and camp outs. They sent packages, watched/repaired my car and took phone calls from the trail keeping me up on goings on at home.

Because I work for months at a time I work with a staffing agency (Ultimate Staffing). Vicki has been on it for the last three years, finding me great long/short term positions with great companies. My current assignment is with a auto dealership and it’s been a great job with fun people. Super happy that they want me back, they celebrated my departure with tasty food (carbs and meatballs!!) and gifts!

 

Thanks Apothekayla for the healing salve!

Then there are the strangers, aka friends I haven’t met yet. People who follow my blog/Instagram, leave supportive comments, messages, jokes, tips and donations. This is so over whelming at times it brings me to (good)tears.

Gracias     Merci Beaucoup      Grazie     Danke sehr   Mahalo

I’m out there hiking the miles, adventuring, ‘living the dream’ but it wouldn’t happen without my awesome support crew! I never walk alone! So much love and kindness. Thank you all for ALL THE THINGS and being on this journey with me.

I love y’all………..yep you!

It’s Not Over – Daughtry

In 2016 I quit an attempted thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. I learned some lessons on that hike, like all trails are not the same and to thru hike you have to really want it. Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean failure though, it just means you’re done, for now. Checkout my fun chat with Lynn Marie of Quit Happens, we talk quitting the trail when the drive isn’t there…..and going back when it is!

 Quit Happens with Lynn Marie 

African American hiker Appalachian Trail
AT Conservancy

Stay tuned…..in 2 weeks I’m back on the Appalachian Trail…..Katahdin I’m coming for ya!!