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August 8th: Stopped in Andover

Miles Today: 15.5

Mile Marker: 1,932.9

Today was a rough day.  Last night I slept up on an exposed ridge due to a lack of options.  I also lost one of my ear plugs somewhere along the way.  The loud wind made it hard to sleep.  My goal today was to make it to Andover.  There are two jump off points.  Cheese, Einstein, and Eddie were also going in but from the northern point.  If I could get to the southern point I could give Cousin Eddie back her phone she left at the hostel in Gorham.

The trail and weather cooperated for the most part.  Some of it was tricky, and it rained part of the day, but mostly it was good.  At the end of the day I ran into Hop Along again. It was great to see him, but I had to keep moving.  Hopefully I'll see him again tomorrow. Rambo and Canada were also camped out there. The hitch from the southern point was really difficult.  Especially since I got there just before sunset.  Thankfully Tom pulled up in a beat up old Tacoma and gave me a ride. Super cool dude.

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August 7th: Made it to Maine

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Today's lesson is never trust a wood bridge over a bog. 

Today's lesson is never trust a wood bridge over a bog. 

Still some snow trapped in the valley of Mahoosucks Notch

Still some snow trapped in the valley of Mahoosucks Notch

Miles Today: 13.1

Mile Marker: 1,917.4

I remember when I started telling people about my plans for this adventure.  Almost everyone said “You're going to do what now?”  Each time I would calmly explain I was going to walk from Georgia to Maine while internally evaluating my sanity every time I said it.  Well the day has come. I've officially walked FROM GEORGIA TO MAINE!!!  Still 272.4 miles of hard work left, but I'll get there.

I made it through Mahoosuc Notch today.  I heard from the SlOwBOs it should take about three hours, but all of my NOBO people said it took them two.  It took me an hour and a half.  Not because I'm a faster hiker or anything; I didn't want to get rained on while going through that nonsense.  I didn't take any breaks and focused on moving as fast as safely possible.  I still got rained on the last half hour, but thankfully I was through the roughest stuff.  It was almost all rock climbing with large, sketchy gaps below.  Definitely wore me out today.

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August 6th: Perfect Day Back After a Great Rest

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Miles Today: 12.8

Mile Marker: 1,904.3

It rained most of the day yesterday. Once I got to my motel room I didn't leave once.  I ordered pizza and it took two hours to get there because of the ATV convention, but I didn't care.  I had an excellent, lazy, restful day.

This morning I soaked up every last second I had of my room and checked out exactly at 11:00.  I had to walk a mile across town to get to a spot where I could catch a hitch.  On the way I ran into Cash, Songbird, and Dr. Mantis Toboggan.  Then I ran into Dingo and Hitch.  I hadn't seen any of them since Waynesboro, Virginia.  I chatted with them briefly and then finally got a lift back to the trail.  I didn't get started until noon.

It was chilly, but it was dry and sunny.  Perfect weather for hiking.  The trail also cut me some slack.  Although it was a day filled with climbs and drops, none of them required any rock climbing.  Almost all of the trail was dry.  Putting in nearly thirteen miles after noon is back to a hiking pace where I like to be.  If I had started this morning I likely could have put in twenty.  It has been a very long time (remember everything feels slower out here) since that was possible.  It was exactly the break I needed.  Tomorrow I will likely make it to Mahoosuc Notch.  The hardest mile on the AT.  I've heard quotes of three to five hours to get through that section.  For perspective it usually takes twenty to thirty minutes to do a regular mile out here.  This section is actually only eight tenths of a mile.  Much of it will be rock climbing and crawling over boulders.  Should be interesting. I'll likely have to stop just before it and make that a Tuesday morning problem.

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August 5th: Personal Update

First things first, July has been updated with the last couple of weeks of posts.  Those can be accessed from the archive tab or from here http://freeontheat.me/july  I’m sure reading ten days of “I woke up and walked North” isn’t the most exciting thing for most of you.  However some of those days contain pictures from The White Mountains, one of the most beautiful sections of trail.

I haven’t had a chance to talk to many of you personally in a while.  I’ve also been way behind on posting to the blog.  The blog posts give some insights as to how things are going for me, but I figured now was a good time to give an overall update.

In short, I’m tired.  I’m tired of hiking 12 hours a day.  I’m tired of only getting one day off every 10-12 days.  I’m tired of that day off being filled more with chores than it is with actual rest.  I’m tired of walking in rain for hours on end with no sign of stopping and no dry place to escape.  I’m tired of having to put on rain gear to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I’m tired of putting on wet cloths, socks, and shoes every morning.  I’m tired of my stench.  I’m tired of my feet always hurting.  I’m tired of eating the same prepackaged foods day in and day out.

I miss my family.  I miss my friends.  I miss my cats.  I miss indoor plumbing.  I miss being able to take a shower whenever I want and immediately have clean cloths to put on.  I miss deodorant.  I miss being able to get in a car and go exactly where I want when I want. I miss vegetables.  I miss reliable internet connections.  I miss computers.  I miss Netflix.  I miss waking up and deciding the day can wait and going back to bed.

At this point I am kind of over the whole experience.  I feel weak and broken.  The days are filled with more struggle than joy at this point.  I’m close enough to be able to see the finish line, but there is still so much more work left to be done.  I’ve been mentally ready to be finished for the last few weeks.  That definitely contributes to the mental struggle.

I know a few weeks after I'm finished I'll look back and romanticize this experience.  I'll wish I had cherished this moment more when it was happening, but right now it is completely a struggle.

My commitment and confidence are both still at 100%, but that is how I feel right now.  I still fully intend to finish.  298.3 miles left. I got this.

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August 4rd: Nearo Into Gorham

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Miles Today: 9.9

Mile Marker: 1,891.5

This morning Cheese and Cousin Eddie headed out just before I did.  I spent the rest of the day trying to catch up, but I didn’t catch them in time.  They caught a ride into town almost immediately and went to the Chinese buffet.  I got to the road the same time as three other guys.  It still seems weird to be meeting new people this late in the game.  Their names were Professor, Canada, and JFK.  It took us a half hour, but eventually a truck pulled over and gave us a ride into town.  We gorged on Chinese food and then stopped at a pub for a beer.  I headed down to the hostel and reunited with Einstein, Cheese, and Cousin Eddie.  We got our showers and laundry in.  Then we headed to the pizza place for a cheap margarita and pizza.  The place was mobbed.  There is currently an ATV convention in town.  There are thousands of people here riding around on four wheelers and side by sides.  Right down the middle of Main Street like they are regular traffic.  It’s kind of weird, but fun. 

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August 3rd: Fried

Miles Today: 13.1

Mile Marker: 1,881.6

This morning I woke up and hiked two miles to Pinkham Notch.  I got the the Visitor Center five minutes after they closed the breakfast buffet. I was able to finally buy a new fuel canister though.  I also bought a Dr. Pepper and ate some of my snacks.

At 2:30 I caught up to Cousin Eddie and Cheese at the hut.  I bought a bowl of soup to warm up and had lunch.  They left before I did, and we agreed on a general meeting area.  I caught up to them at 7:30 and was glad to be done hiking. We made it through the Wildcats range today. 


Unfortunately there was no nearby water source, and I had less than half a liter.  I finally had gas to cook with but now was missing water.  I ate some snacks and sipped a small amount of water instead.  We have ten difficult miles in the morning before we can get to the hostel. I think I'm going to have to break down and take a zero too.  I'm beat.

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August 2nd: To Hell with Hail

Lake of the Clouds Hut where we stayed last night.  

Lake of the Clouds Hut where we stayed last night.  

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The original station that observed the record setting 231 mph.  This building is literally chained to the ground.  

The original station that observed the record setting 231 mph.  This building is literally chained to the ground.  

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The mountains we went over.  The back side of that peak on the right is where it started to lightening and hail.  

The mountains we went over.  The back side of that peak on the right is where it started to lightening and hail.  

That smoke is coming from The Cheater Choo Choo bringing people to the top. 

That smoke is coming from The Cheater Choo Choo bringing people to the top. 

Weather starting to roll in. Mount Washington is over my left shoulder. 

Weather starting to roll in. Mount Washington is over my left shoulder. 

Miles Today: 13.1

Mile Marker: 1,868.5

I made it to the top of Mount Washington by 7:15 and was the first one there. I got to see everything while the sun was still coming up and the sky was clear.  I hung out for the rest of the crew and we waited for the snack bar to open.  Then we began the almost all day exposed ridge walk.  Around 3:00 we started getting thunderstorms.  We tossed our trekking poles and hunkered down a few times while we waited for some of the lightening clouds to move past.  Nothing ever came super close, but no reason to be risky.  On one of the bigger descents we got a blast of heavy rain and quarter inch sized hail.  Boulder hopping down a 300 foot drop is always sketchy, but that was particularly unnerving.

We all made it safely below treeline and the weather eventually broke.  Cheese, Einstein, and Cousin Eddie all went into a hostel tonight.  Cheese and Cousin Eddie will be back out tomorrow while Einstein let's his knees rest.  On Friday we'll hit another road crossing that leads back to the same town they went into today.  I'll go in then for a much needed nearo, shower, and laundry.

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August 1st: Final Month (Hopefully)

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It is hard to tell from this photo, but this is an incredibly sharp incline.  I had to stow my trekking poles and rock climb up this thing.  There is a lot of this in The Whites.  

It is hard to tell from this photo, but this is an incredibly sharp incline.  I had to stow my trekking poles and rock climb up this thing.  There is a lot of this in The Whites.  

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Miles Today: 11.0

Mile Marker: 1,855.4

I woke up this morning and caught a quick hitch to the general store.  It had a terrible selection, was way over priced, and the showers and laundry “Are for guests only”.  Thankfully I caught a quick hitch back to the trail from someone staying in one of the cabins.  He gave me an apple and a banana too.

I got back on the trail and ran into Jaws and his parents and gave them the banana.  Shortly thereafter I ran into Einstein!!!  We hiked together for a bit and then I tried to catch up to Cheese.  I found him and Cousin Eddie at the next hut.  They had some leftover oatmeal I scarffed down before heading back out.

My plan was to get over Mount Washington today, but it is all above tree line in this section and you can't camp on the alpine vegetation.  I stopped at Lake of the Clouds hut and secured a work for stay.  I can sleep on the floor and get the leftovers the guests don't eat in exchange for doing some dishes.  I took a dip in the lake and relaxed with everyone while we waited to work.  While we were at the lake we met the interns and an employee at the weather observation tower on top of Mount Washington.  It is staffed 24/7.  I got the forecast for tomorrow and started laughing.  It is the first time I've ever gotten weather DIRECTLY from the source.  So cool! Another perfect day.

Update: We had 30 minutes to eat all we could.  The food was cold, but it was flavorful and in plentiful volume.  I did the dishes with Ghost Hiker, and we definitely earned our free room and board.  The staff are super cool, and overall it was a great experience.

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