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July 31st: Trail Nap

 Stupid bug ruining my photo. I'll have to photoshop that little bugger out when I get home.  

Stupid bug ruining my photo. I'll have to photoshop that little bugger out when I get home.  

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Miles Today: 16.8

Mile Marker: 1,844.4

For some reason I didn't sleep very well last night.  It took everything I had to get out of bed this morning.  I was dragging all morning.  I got to the first “hut” (Think B&B in the woods, but no showers. They are a thing in the Whites.) and ran into Tin Cup (the other one) and caught up with him.  He said Hot Tea, his girlfriend, is doing well and her femur is healing.  He's out doing the trail for both of them right now.  It was good to see him after so long.

Right after I ate lunch I couldn't stay awake any longer.  I knocked out a thirty minute power nap and still felt terrible, but I kept moving.  I got to the next hut and there were falls.  I found a small pool and got in.  The freezing cold water woke me right up.  The next seven and a half miles of trail were smooth sailing.  I had heard Cheese and Einstein were going to be camped near the railroad tracks, but they weren't there when I got there.  I hiked on to the road crossing I needed to catch a ride from in the morning to resupply, and I set up camp. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do laundry and shower.  It's been 10 days.  It's not a good look… or smell.

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July 30th: Exhausted

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Miles Today: 14.9

Mile Marker: 1,827.6

This morning I hiked down into a valley and then immediately started up a 3,800 foot climb.  Once I got up there I stayed on top of a ridge most of the day as I went down and then back up over several peaks.  Then at the end of the day I had to drop one more time and then once again over a 4,000 foot peak before I could stop for the day.

I am twelve kinds of exhausted right now.  The weather was perfect, and the views we stunning. Three miles of 360 degree views above tree line. Today was a good day.

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July 29th: Into The Whites!

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Miles Today: 12.3

Mile Marker: 1,812.7

After more than a thousand miles of relative boredom The White Mountains in New Hampshire have delivered!  I feel like I'm backpacking again.  The views are incredible, but you have to WORK for them.  Mileage will be seeing a significant decrease for the next sixtyish miles.

I woke up relatively early this morning, grabbed a breakfast sandwich, and went and hung out at the Post Office to charge my phone (only place with an exterior outlet I could find).  I caught a hitch almost immediately.  Two guys were going to do the mountain I did yesterday, but from a different trail.  They drove a few miles out of their way to get me back to where I needed to be.

Early in the day I met Janice and chatted with her for a while. She is getting into backpacking and had tons of questions.  I eventually hiked on and took a break at a rock outcropping.  She caught back up and she told me her life story while we enjoyed the sun and the view. She is semi-retired and just bought a camper to take all over the US. We bonded over our love of hiking, but our hatred of camping.  Believe me if I were able to afford to hike all day and stay in a hotel every night, I absolutely would.  Camping is the means to the end for me.  I'd much rather be clean and in a bed at the end of the day. It was a very welcome break from hiking by myself.

The rest of the day was miraculous.  The weather was perfect and the views were magnificent.  I've said it before, but I just couldn't get a picture good enough to convey what it looked and felt like at the top today.  I think I'm really going to enjoy the next few sunny days despite the daunting terrain.

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July 28th: Sunshine for Four More Days!

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Miles Today: 13.8

Mile Marker: 1,800.4

It was a beautiful day of sunshine! I was so happy all day.  I had to climb Mount Moosilauke today. The uphill was difficult, but the downhill destroyed me.  It was massive boulders that were wet and slick.  Every step down felt like I could slip and crash down.  I slipped eight times,but thankfully never fell.  I did roll my right ankle really badly and hyperextend my right knee just before dropping my full weight on it.  Both of those things hurt, but I'm no worse for wear.

I met a hiker named Laura who is working through all of the 4,000+ foot peaks in New Hampshire.  There are 48 of them and she has already done 19 of them.  We finished around the same time, and she gave me a ride into town as long as I promised not to murder her.  I got resupplied and tried to find a place to stay.  All the motels were booked and the hostel was too far away.  I may or may not have improvised a camping spot instead.

 

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July 27th: Shitty Day Saved by Trail Angels

 Carl's cook setup.  

Carl's cook setup.  

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Miles Today: 11.7

Mile Marker: 1,786.6

This morning was raining and I did not want to deal with it.  I didn't get started until 9:30.  Everything was wet and miserable.  I was stomping through the mud and had zero desire to be hiking. 

I stopped at a road crossing for lunch around 1:00.  A truck pulled up and the driver asked if I would like a beer.  He gave me a Miller Lite and a sparkling lemon soda.  The sun came out, and things started to look up.  Shortly afterwards I ran into Ghost Hiker who said she was trying to make it to the Omelet Guy before 4:00.  It turns out there is a Trail Angel who sets up all season a tenth of a mile into the woods and makes breakfast for hikers all day.  He does scrambles or pancakes.  We rushed there and were met by the warm smile of Carl the Egg Man.  That’s not his actual nickname, but that’s what Princess Valdera called him, and it sounds funnier than Omelet Guy.  Especially since he actually makes scrambles and not omelets.

Carl made me a four egg scramble with fresh ham, peppers, onions, and cheese.  I also had several glasses of orange juice and a banana.  I hung out talking to Jager, Princess Vidalia, Thumper, Ghost Hiker, and Carl for over an hour.  I wasted so much time today, but it was totally worth it.  It was exactly what my psyche needed. 

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July 26th: Making Progress

 Another fire tower.  

Another fire tower.  

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Miles Today: 16.1

Mile Marker: 1,774.9

Still not quite the mileage I want to be to, but getting closer.  I'm still incredibly tired in the morning and having a hard time getting started.  Today was my earliest start at 9:00.  Hopefully tomorrow I can get going by 8:00.

Thankfully the sun was out all day today.  There was a large climb with several exposed ridges.  I soaked it all up.  At the top was a really cool fire tower and an old cabin.  It would have been a really cool spot to camp if the miles had matched up.

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July 25th: I Really Miss the Sun

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 Cool looking fungus.  

Cool looking fungus.  

Miles Today: 15.4

Mile Marker: 1,758.8

It's been raining and overcast for what feels like forever.  I'm getting tired of waking up in the rain, walking in the rain, and then going to bed in the rain.  Thankfully today the rain stopped around 11:00, but it was still overcast.  Something about hiking in the shadow of dense clouds and thick canopy really bums me out.  It's hard to keep moving.  I'm really hoping the sun comes back tomorrow.  I may just lay out in it for awhile as I let all of my stuff dry.

Today I resupplied in Norwich and then walked through Hanover, home of Dartmouth.  I tried to get a new fuel canister, but all they had were the large ones.  I don't like carrying the large ones in general, but I'm at the point where I probably only need one small canister for the rest of the trip!  No sense in carrying around extra fuel for a month I can't fly back with anyway.  I grabbed a burrito to go and headed back out to the woods.

The trail was super nice today, and I had a decent day.  Hopefully tomorrow I can get in 18 or more.

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July 24th: Starting to Feel Normal

Miles Today: 13.9

Mile Marker: 1,743.4

Still not a full day, but I'm feeling better.  Hopefully tomorrow I can wake up rested at a normal time and get a solid day in.

Hiking wise it rained all day, but the trail was mostly nice.  The fields of chest high weeds soaked in rain sucked, but the rest of it was decent.

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July 23rd: Feels Like Starting Over

Miles Today: 14.0

Mile Marker: 1,729.5

Have you ever gotten on a really good workout streak where you feel great and you're doing well? Then you take a handful of days off and you feel like you're back at square one?  That's how I feel right now.

I'm still really tired and having a hard time hiking for more than an hour and a half without a break.  I woke up at 5:30 this morning to the sun shining and the birds chirping and immediately said to hell with this.  I popped in some earplugs and put my Buff over my face and passed back out till 9:00.  When I first woke up I felt like I had been asleep for ten minutes, and when I woke up again I felt like I'd been drugged.  I didn't get on trail until 10:00 this morning.

Around 3:00 I stopped at a farm store just off trail to have lunch.  I got a Coke and a fresh, delicious tomato.  I met Squire and his two sons Stretch and Remix.  They are also NOBO, but this is the first time I've seen them.  His sons are around 13 and 11 I would guess.  Super impressed with them doing this.  They were also hiking with Ghost Hiker who I hadn't met before either.  At lunch I discovered my appetite is starting to come back, so hopefully my energy levels follow.


Shortly after I left I crossed another road and received a first.  Drive by Trail Magic.  This woman was on her way home from the store, spotted me, stopped in the road, gave me a “Danish Coffee Pastry”, and then drove off.  It was so hilarious.  The Danish wasn't very good, but the kindness behind it was incredible.  This journey has really helped to restore my faith in humanity.

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July 22nd: I Can't Get to Maine from a Motel

Miles Today: 11.4

Mile Marker: 1,715.5

Last night I decided I was done with resting in town.  I decided I would go to bed early and wake up whenever I woke up.  That ended up being 9:00 AM.  I watched a little TV, ate the rest of the Chinese food I ordered, and took my time getting ready.  At 11:00 I checked out, dropped off someone's undelivered letter I found on the ground at the post office, and then started the 0.75 mile road walk back to the trail.  I got halfway there when I realized one of my trekking poles wouldn't telescope out.  I fiddled with it on the side of the road before I conceded I would need tools.  I walked back up the hill to the local outfitter and asked if they could help me out.  The  clerk was super helpful. She rounded up some tools and WD40 and let me use their workbench.  It took a little work, but I got it free.  The moral here is never store your poles dirty for very long.  Especially don't keep them stowed away for four days with 1,704 miles of filth on them.


The hiking was particularly uneventful. It sprinkled off and on, but nothing crazy. I was moving way off pace, and my feet were killing me.  I think they forgot what we are doing out here and allowed feelings back into themselves.  I finally convinced myself 11.4 miles with a noon start time coming off of being sick was acceptable.  Part of me wants to catch back up, but this close to the end I may never see Dr. Stretch, MacGyver, and Trinity again.  But forward progress is forward progress.  Back on our way to Maine!

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July 18th: Hanging out in Rutland

 Miles Today: 13.9

Mile Marker: 1,704.1

 

Between the terrain and all of the rain it has been slow going. I've been kind of miserable.  My only focus today was to get to the post office before it closed.  I had a package waiting with my warmer sleeping bag, which I'll need for the colder section of The Whites in New Hampshire.  Thanks again for sending that Aunt Mary.


I got into Killington and decided I was done hiking for the day and I was going to take a zero tomorrow.  MacGyver and Stretch texted me they were down the road in Rutland and offered for me to split a room with the three of them.  MacGyver came and picked me up and we all hung out.  Much needed break.

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July 17th: The Final 500

Miles Today: 14.9

Mile Marker: 1,690.2 Governor Clement Shelter

My battery pack glitched and drained itself and my phone last night.  I use my phone for my maps, so I was kind of flying blind.  At the next shelter I found a ripped out page from last year's companion guide that had enough information to get me where I was going.

I also bumped into Jaws and his parents.  They are going to hike with him through the roughest part of the trail. It will be slower going while they get their trail legs, but I got the impression they'll be fine.

Today we crossed into the final 500 miles.  It seems like I was just celebrating having hiked the first 500 miles.  Crazy to think about. 

 

 

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July 16th: Progress

 Thar be moose in them here hills

Thar be moose in them here hills

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 Some people have way too much time on their hands. 

Some people have way too much time on their hands. 

Miles Today: 17.5

Mile Marker: 1,675.3

I got started at 9:15 this morning. Still pitiful, but moving in the right direction.  I bumped into a couple heading south on a section hike and chatted with them for about thirty minutes.  They let me know there was a ton of moose scat coming up.  I saw some earlier, but they confirmed my suspicion that is what it was.  There was tons of it on the trail.  No moose sighting yet unfortunately.

Later in the afternoon I bumped into MacGyver and Trinity who said they were going into Killington tonight.  It turns out Fireball was up the trail near where they left the van.  They had him grab the key they stashed and come get them.  We'll likely reconnect when I stop in town on Tuesday.

The rest of the day was a grind through the muck.  The weather was nice though.  I got into camp late and started setting up.  A local came over and started telling me stories of when he hiked the trail in the 90s and when he worked as a Ridge runner.  Super cool dude, but I eventually had to tell him it was late and I was done.  Hopefully tomorrow I can start a little earlier and finish before dark.

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July 15th: Unnecessary Laziness

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Miles Today: 16.4

Mile Marker: 1,657.8

This morning I couldn't find the motivation to leave my tent. It wasn't particularly bad weather, the sun was out, I wasn't injured, but my feet weren't moving.  I snoozed several times. I downloaded podcasts. I browsed the web.  Everything except let the air out of my mattress and start to pack up.  I got rolling at the shameful hour of 11:00.  I guess I've finally grown so accused to my little tent and air mattress being home that providing there is a little bit of internet I can be just as lazy as I am in real life.  It felt like a Saturday morning for me.

Once I got rolling I realized I would have to pay the penance of some night hiking.  My plan was to get to town, get some burritos at Cilantro, resupply, and get back.  Along the way I bumped into Hop Along and chatted with him for a while.  He tried to get me to split a room in town with him, but for once this week I said no to temptation. I told him I was sorry, but I've been exceptionally lazy and needed to keep going.  We got to the road crossing and Rebel and his son Burps were there with Trail Magic.  Rebel’s wife had brought a cooler full of sodas and junk food for everyone.  I saw Dr. Stretch, MacGyver, and Trinity were huddled under an awning waiting out the rain and showed self restraint long enough to talk to them. They had already been in town, eaten, resupplied and were heading back out.  We talked time table and decided we would meet up in Killington if I hadn't caught them before.  I headed back to Trail Magic and inhaled a Hostess cupcake and  Barq's root beer.  I also bumped into One Gallon while we were all indulging.  Serendipitously a car pulled up and offered us a ride.  Hop Along and I crammed in with a couple hiking the Long Trail and were off. (The Long Trail runs from Canada to Massachusetts and is around 270 miles. 105 miles of which run along the AT.)

I got my burrito, my to go burrito, and my resupply and headed back to the trail.  I caught a hitch very quickly and was back at it around 5:00.  I night hiked for nearly an hour and got a good spot at a peak, set up camp, and demolished my to go burrito.

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July 14th: Highest Peak in a Long Time

Miles Today: 20.4

Mile Marker: 1,641.4

Today we had the biggest climb we've had in a long time.  Stratton mountain is almost 4,000 feet, and we had to go up about 1,800 feet and then down the same.  The climb up the mountain wasn't bad, but the backside was a muddy mess.  So was the rest of the day.  Vermont has the nickname Vermud, and it lives up to it.  As a silver lining someone left a cooler of sodas at the  base of the assent.  The sugar and caffeine bump were much appreciated.

I was zoned out listening to podcasts all day and lost track of the gang for most of the day.  Toward the end of the day I bumped into Dr. Stretch and he said he was going to go about three of four miles further than I had the energy to.  I figured I'd be on my own tonight so I found a nice spot, threw my bear line and started setting up.  Then I got a text saying he found MacGyver and Trinity just up the trail at a perfect spot.  I pulled my bear line down, started to pack up, and realized it was about 7:30 and I'd have to hike almost another mile.  I phoned it in, put my bear line back up, and told him I'd catch them in town tomorrow.

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July 13th: The Temptations

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 View from the fire tower.  

View from the fire tower.  

Miles Today: 10.4

Mile Marker: 1,621.0

Last night MacGyver said they were going to start calling themselves The Temptations because it is so easy to get derailed when there is access to the van.  He's not wrong.  This morning their plan was to drive their van a week or so up the trail and return the rental car.  Also a van.  MacGyver was going to drop Stretch and I off on the way so we could get a full day in.  When that time came neither Stretch nor I were feeling it.  Very quickly we talked each other into staying longer so we could do laundry and relax.

We got laundry done and hung out.  For lunch we hit up the Pizza Hut lunch buffet.  Shortly after MacGyver and Trinity showed up and joined us.  We dropped the rental car off and got a ride back to the trail.  1:00 start time.  I think that might be a new record.  We got to the first shelter before 6:00.  Everyone wanted to hike on for another hour or so.  We made it 0.30 miles up the hill to the fire tower.  There was excellent camping.  Then Trinity pointed out it sprinkled a little bit.  We concluded stopping here was the right choice. As I was writing today's post I realized we've had two pitiful days and said we need to step it up.  MacGyver pointed out I'm looking at it all wrong.  We had two nearos which is like a full day and a zero.  So really we did over 20 miles, which is a great day.  I like these people.

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July 12th: Negative Influences and Weak Will

 Beaver dam. 

Beaver dam. 

 This theater is so old it still sells Dots! 

This theater is so old it still sells Dots! 

July 12th: Weak Will and Negative Influences

Miles Today: 11.5

Mile Marker: 1,610.6 Bennington, VT

This morning I was packing up to head out when I overheard Dr. Stretch mention going to a movie when he got in town.  My plan was to go to a burrito place called Cilantro, grab my resupply, and head back out. Unfortunately the seed was already planted.  MacGyver and Trinity needed to rent a car and go pick up their van several towns back.  They offered to drive us around in Bennington after they got the rental.  That was game over for hiking for me today.  I'm at a point where I'm anxious to finish.  I can see the end now and it's within grasp.  I'm also trying to be aware of what the end of the journey means and soak it up while I can.  An unplanned nearo in town to hang out with friends is still the best move.  The burrito was delicious, and the movie Baby Driver was great. No regrets.

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July 11th: The Final Three

 Memorial with the gang out front.  

Memorial with the gang out front.  

 Model of the terrain with an explanation of the geology.  

Model of the terrain with an explanation of the geology.  

 We are here.  

We are here.  

 View from the top.  

View from the top.  

Miles Today: 16.9

Mile Marker: 1,599.1

In a rare occurrence I was the first one out of camp today at 9:00.  It was still sprinkling this morning and none of us were in a hurry.  I got to the top of Mount Greylock about an hour and a half later.  I was milling around and about to head down when a day hiker named Morris flagged me down.  He was surprised I wasn't stopping at the lounge and convinced me a cheeseburger was the right choice.  It turns out his son hiked in 2008.  I stopped and got an early lunch. I texted the group a picture of the menu to encourage them to stop too.  Shortly after they showed up and we all had lunch together.  As we were wrapping up Wolfe showed up.  He made great time catching back up.  I think his schedule is more aggressive than mine, so he'll likely pass me soon.

As we were leaving we walked up to the war memorial at the peak. I was bummed it was closed for renovations. However a caretaker came over and opened the place for us.  We figured out where the lights were, and we all got to climb to the top and check out the view.  It was pretty cool knowing we were probably the only thru hikers of this season who have gotten to go up.  It should be open officially in a few more weeks.

After those delays we had a pretty slow day.  From Mount Greylock we had a steep descent into the next town crossing, and then a steep climb back out.  We were all thinking of eating dinner at the shelter and then hiking a couple of more miles and camping.  However we didn't get to the shelter until 7:00, and none of us wanted to go any further.

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