Katahdin

The Appalachian Trail stayed true to the end, I feel justified in saying that the final moments of my thru-hike were the absolute best.

I ended up taking about 5 days to make it through the 100-mile wilderness, and those 5 days were very enjoyable. I met a lot of Sobos settling into their trail after their intensive first few days. Now I think back to my first few nights on the trail, cringing in pain every time I took a step or slightly adjusted my position on my ground mat because I was an idiot to hike without underwear my first few days and had a terrible chaffing situation going on. I was completely miserable at the time, and I would have thought that anyone who encountered me would highly doubt I would ever make it. I recall now making my way down from that piece of shit shelter on Blood Mountain and bumping into Darrin, who not only encouraged me but sent me many fantastic care packages on the way up. I made it a point to send good vibes to those going through the bull shit all of us endured on the way.

The whole “trail karma” thing is what I miss most about the place. The AT is really it’s own world and the people in that world are unlike people you will meet anywhere else. Walking around town back home I can’t help but notice how a lot of people make every effort to avoid contact with you when you pass them. On the trail not a soul would pass me without at least saying hi, some of them wanted to know everything about you. More likely than not if I was ever really burnt out and needed a place to crash some of those people would even find a place for me to crash. If I ever ran out of money there were organic farms and hostels that did work for stays. The community took care of each other on the trail, here our neighbor throws diapers in the yard and calls the cops because she thinks we’re stealing firewood from her garage.

The 100-mile was a very enjoyable hike. There were lots of stream crossing to get wet in, some of them more intense than others. Of course, there was always the thought in my head that at some moment I would turn around a corner or hit the top of a peak and finally see Katahdin. When I did, I could hardly wrap my mind around how far I had come and how little was left. I still can’t. I used to tell myself that I would never do the Appalachian Trail because I “knew I could do it” and assumed there were other things I’d rather do with my time. I was pretty fucking stupid growing up, and I still don’t know anything.

To be honest, I couldn’t have done it alone. When people ask me how I was able to accomplish such a huge task I never hesitate to say that it was because of the insane amount of support I received along the way, especially from my parents. I walked onto the bus to Atlanta with almost $2000 in my pocket, a friend, a full set of gear, my ticket, and no real plan other than to get to Springer and head north until whatever. I managed to leave the trail with some of that gear still intact, $600, and a ride. Considering how much food was sent and gear swapped out from home, I highly doubt I would have a cent in my pocket had my parents not helped.

What made the moment so powerful for me was that I was able to share it with my parents. I went on my first backpacking trip spring break my senior year of high school with my very good friend’s Kevin and Wil. I never really did Boy Scouts or summer camp or anything, so it was really the first time I was truly immersed in a long-term natural experience. I was incredibly captivated by it, and pursued it quite intensely from there on by doing NOLS and organizing trips whenever possible. I have spent a lot of time in the wilderness with many different kinds of people, but until Katahdin had yet to share what I loved most with the people I loved most.

It worked out quite perfectly. My cousin was having her high school graduation party in Mesena, New York on June 28th and my parents were driving up to visit. What’s another 9 hours to Maine, right? So they decided that if I happened to be finishing around that time, they could head on up to meet me for the last part of the trail. This of course worked out Maine because not only were they coming to hike with me but I now had a ride out of Baxter State Park which, if you look on a map, is in bum fuck nowhere.

I ended up planning to summit on the 26th, but due to rain I decided to stall a little bit to wait for a nice day. It wasn’t much of a problem since my parents originally planned on being out there on the 26th to hike with me but since it was raining had a hotel in Millinocket. “You didn’t think to stay on the trail your last night of the hike?” I did think about it, but I didn’t care that much and wanted to hang out with my parents so I decided to go check out the town and spend the night in a hotel. I waited for my ride into town at Abol bridge for a couple hours with two other hikers I had met the previous day when Mike Carria showed up with my Mom. It was a pleasant surprise to see him again since it felt like a while since I saw him in Vermont. We got all crammed into the car and headed into town.

The next day my parents dropped me off at Abol bridge and headed off to the base of Katahdin to start hiking when the gates opened. I had 10 miles from Abol to the base of Katahdin, so they got a pretty good head start on me especially considering I took a wrong turn across a really sketchy river I thought I had to ford. I jogged a bit during those last 10-miles, anxious to catch my parents so I could enjoy most of the hike with them. There were a lot of people at the base of Katahdin getting ready to go up. I greeted a large group of south bounders who were kind of rude to me when I tried to talk to them, a sure sign that some of them probably wouldn’t make if only because they would end up getting sick of each other. I was pretty amped when I saw the sign directing me up the trail to the summit. I put on tunes and headed off.

My pace was quite awesome. I had fantastic food the night before, didn’t hike too much the previous day, and got to sleep in a bed so I was feeling pretty good. I passed a shit ton of people on my way up, a couple of them fully aware of what was going on and excitedly congratulating me as I sped by. I passed Katahdin Stream falls and filled up on what would be my last nalgene of mountain water for some time. I broke treeline and was able to stare up the steep ridge to the tablelands, a massive alpine plateau that extended to the summit. Some of the best scrambling on the trail was that last ridge, I was pleased I decided to do a Northbound hike… I felt as though Springer would be quite anti-climatic. 

I quickly knocked out the scramble and upon reaching the table lands could see two small dots in the distance that were my parents. I jogged ahead, remaining careful about stepping on the uneven rocks since it would totally blow to get hurt in the last half mile. I remember being so excited to see what I thought was the summit, rising along a sharp edge in the distance after a series of false summits. I caught up with my parents, excited I was able to catch them before the top. 

We had a chance to talk about the hike. My mom was tired but determined, and I was impressed at how fast they were able to make it up. The day itself was second to none. It was in the high 70s, low wind, no clouds. To the south was an immense span of forest peppered by massive lakes, mountains I had traveled through far in the distance. To the northwest was the seemingly infinite Allagash wilderness, a place cars don’t go. Before us was the mountain, scree and alpine vegetation all along the table lands. I was a few paces ahead of my dad when he pointed out that there was a sign at what I originally believed to be the first false summit of the peak. People were crowded around it, I understood that he was correct.

It was certainly one of the most intense moments of my life. There was a period between realizing that it was the summit and when I started sprinting towards it that I can’t remember what I was thinking about. I had assumed there would be a few hundred yards of hiking until I hit the finish line (which actually ended up being the infamous Knife’s Edge of Katahdin, which speaks for itself), so I wasn’t quite mentally prepared for what I would feel when I finally touched the sign. I can’t be sure if I was hyperventilating in excitement, breathing heavily from the sprint, or both. I yelled like a damned fool with tears running down my face, people around me were asking me questions but I couldn’t be asked to answer. I stepped away from the summit for a moment to catch my breath when my parents made it to the top. It was without a doubt the best day of the thru-hike.

We took pictures, talked to some folk, and explored the summit. This one old fart trying to impress his kids wouldn’t shut the fuck up about his numerous vacations here and there, but he eventually buggered off. I had the pleasure of bumping into Chaos, another hiker who had been following my blog and was completing her goal of ascending all 4000+ foot peaks in New England or some badass gnarly ambition like that. I was beyond stoked to meet her, not to mention she gave me some apple sauce. We had to make our way off the mountain sooner than later unfortunately, we had a long drive to New York yet to come. I wasn’t upset though, I know I’ll be back someday.

The way down was a lot of fun. It was great to hike with my parents and occasionally fall into fits of hysterical laughter, amazed and highly amused whenever I reminisced about the strange sort of overwhelming orgasm of good feelings and accomplishment I experienced when I reached the summit. I find it reassuring to know that there are things in life that can make me feel that way and people out there willing to help others reach their goals. I have learned so much about myself through my passion to spend time in real, wild places. I have observed its tremendously therapeutic effect on myself and others, and have realized how healthy it is to immerse myself in a place that constantly challenges me to be a better person than I was the day before. The strength of the community on the Appalachian Trail has restored my faith in humanity by never ceasing to amaze me with unexpected acts of kindness and generosity if only for the sake of being good to each other. Again, it’s what I miss the most.

For the first couple weeks I was keeping a list of names I planned on acknowledging in my last blog post but it ended up being quite a ridiculous thing to keep track of considering how many incredible people I met over those few months. Endless challenges were overcome through both my determination and the support of everyone who has followed the blog and helped me along the way. Knowing people are rooting for me really does help, as does an ample supply of Snickers Bars.

For the rides to and from the trail, for the warm beds and couches I have slept on, for the unexpected warm meals when I needed them most, for the occasional swigs of moonshire, for the good company on the shit days and extra snacks thrown my way, for the care packages that made every mail drop feel like Christmas and everything else, I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for being a part of this. If any of you would like to keep in touch, feel free to comment and leave an email where I can get a hold of you or a blog address. I’d love nothing more than to help you guys along your adventures and live vicariously through you. 

It all means the world to me, peace and love folks! Thanks for reading!

- Crush

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Closing In

It was a long day. I had met a couple people who previously hiked the section following the Mahoosuc Arm and they mentioned that on a nice day Baldpate Mountain made for a pretty enjoyable climb. I could see why. The top of the mountain was a couple hundred feet of pure alpine slab. Some hikers claimed that the stunning view provided by being above tree line contested most other views along the AT. It was steep, but the boulders and cracks provided easy scrambling to the top.

Definitely not when I hiked it. 40 mph winds with gusts so heavy that I would find myself leaning sideways when they resided plummeted the wind chill below zero. Rain blowing sideways soaked the lichen covered granite bringing the ascent to a whole level of treacherous as I continuously stared at my feet to keep the rain from blowing into my face. I was garbed as waterproof as possible. It made no difference on how drenched I was, but the gortex shell did a nice job keeping the wind chill from getting too crazy. I was pretty sketched out at the time, but it was nice to have a scary to keep me honest. Needless to say, I have no pictures of Baldpate to share with you.

The next day was also a little wet, but I totally lucked out with some top notch trail magic much thanks to Stephanie, a resident of Rangely. She drove me into town and proceeded to grant me food, a shower, laundry, and my own bed for the night. It was an awesome night and I was feeling very refreshed for the last set of big climbs until Katahdin.

The next day was stunning (unfortunately misplaced all the fine photography). Absolutely fantastic views and a handful of very positive day-hikers greeted me at the summit of Saddleback Mountain. One of the hikers mentioned that one of the peaks far in the distance was Katahdin. I think he might have been full of shit, but it was exciting to think about at the time. While I was snacking on some delicious almonds I was approached by another couple who suggested we talk about safety. Trail magic. Much of the same the next few days. Hiking up and down big ass mountains, anxiously counting down the number of big peaks until Katahdin.

I won’t lie, a lot of what happened seems like such a blur now that I’m writing it weeks later. I remember that I had a really rough, rainy day going up Avery Peak, the last of the big climbs before the 100 mile wilderness. I was bitching to myself the whole way up, having a bad attitude was becoming a stupid norm for me at that point. Fortunately as I got lower it cleared up, and I got an excellent view looking back towards the peak. I met a lot of really friendly Sobos on the way down from Avery. Once I reached the bottom of the mountain I made great time since the terrain got nice and smooth. The sky started to threaten me with rain again, so I elected to continue on to the next shelter instead of pitching up in my no-longer waterproof bivy.

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The following day I decided to go big. It was 14 miles to the crossing of the Kennebec River, a pretty big stream crossing with a fast current. The official way to pass the Kennebec is by canoeing across with an ATC volunteer who operates a ferry from 9-11 in the morning. I decided to get up early and bust ass to get there in time to cross that day. Fortunately the terrain was flat aside from lots of roots and mud, and I arrived at the crossing shortly before 10 just as Dave, the ferry dude, was brining a southbounder across. I immediately hopped into the rig and exercised some pretty expert canoeing skills to beast us across. He didn’t say it was record time, but I’m sure it was.

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I took a quick breather after the crossing to assess the rest of my day. I checked the guidebook, it was looking pretty flat from there on out and I had already done 14 miles that day. I had a couple of options for staying in shelters up ahead, I elected to pick one that was 28 miles away. At 10:30 it was still pretty early, and I figured that even though I had to ford a couple of streams I and hike through mostly mud, I could probably make it 42 miles by dark. I didn’t, but I almost did. I ended up rolling into a shelter 9 miles away from Monson, Maine at about 9:10 at night. Best part was, I ended up having the shelter completely to myself, and even found a little bottle of much needed iodine left there by another hiker.

Sorry I’ve been bad about the updates lately. It’s been quite hectic trying to find work now that I’m back (if you’re hiking the AT and were kind of hoping that people would think it might be a cool reason to hire you, I’ll tell you that a lot of people don’t even know what it is). I’m going to try to get this blog done in 2 more posts before August, but right now I’m pretty focused on finding a job. For those of you still reading, much appreciated! – Crush

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June 11 – June 13

I took my sweet time leaving the hostel in the morning. Although I didn’t make it as far as I had hoped that day, I was able to knock out the remainder of New Hampshire and proceed into Maine by the end of the day. Although the climbs were not nearly as high the terrain was much of the same steep, rocky up-and-down sort of thing that I had been experiencing for the last week and a half in the Whites. Every hour or so I reached a rocky bald from which I could enjoy a glance back towards the tremendous massif of the Presidential Peaks dominating the horizon. As the daylight began to diminish I found myself glancing at an even more welcome sight, a sign indicating that I had just entered Maine.

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Night was settling in fast when I reached the side trail to Carlo Col shelter. I had originally planned on making it to the next shelter just a couple miles ahead in order to meet up with Cannonball and start the Mahoosuc Notch first thing in the morning. Carlo Col shelter was more of a cabin than the majority of shelters I had been staying in along the trail. It was closed in on all sides and had a loft near the rear; ideal considering the forecast was calling for rain that evening. There was also a bear box, which was nice although I had pretty much stopped worrying about bears by that point.

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I was completely alone so I made sure to make myself right at home. I took everything out of my pack and for celebratory purposes picked out two dinners to eat that night. I dipped over to the stream just a few yards from the shelter to grab some water to boil. The water source was prime, a small pool rippling from the spring water flowing up from the ground below draining into a stream. I took a moment to drink an entire bottle of it right then and there, a habit I began developing in the Whites. They suggest that you always treat your water (there was even a sign right there at the stream) but by that point I trusted my judgment, or was at least willing to deal with the consequences of making a mistake. I ended up developing an addiction to pure stream water over the remainder of the hike. I’d sometimes allowing myself to pass by other water sources in anticipation of a better one even though I was craving water. We’ll see if I end up relentlessly shitting over the next two weeks.

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Waking up every other hour or so became a regular thing for the rest of my thru-hike—my sleeping mat was for some reason completely resistant to any of my efforts to repair it. Every two hours I would find myself flat on the ground. Out of laziness I would usually just lie there and hope to fall back asleep, finally resorting to inflating the mat again in order to pass out. Needless to say I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep, so when I woke in the morning to discover that it was pouring outside I couldn’t help but inflate my mat once more and fall asleep for another hour. Despite my hopes that it would let up a bit, it was still coming down pretty hard when I finally got up.

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I made a quick breakfast, threw on my rain gear, and grabbed the shelter log. I was happy to see some familiar names in there. Pan and Roadrunner had made it there weeks ago, and there was Cloudwalker’s more recent signature proclaiming that he had made it to Maine in 60 days (which is legit despite some claims that he had been yellow blazing, he’s actually just legendary). I signed the log, left some safety supplies in the shelter for the next resident, and headed out. Thankfully, it did eventually clear up. Although it was no longer raining, the air was cold and the ground was wet. It made for some borderline sketchy scrambles here and there, nothing super dangerous but certainly worth extra caution. A slip could turn into a busted up ankle, which in that kind of wet and cold would turn into hypothermia.

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The conditions made for some pretty stellar scenery whenever I hit a bald. The valleys below me were shrouded in mist as clouds crept over distant peaks. I could also no longer see roads or towns in the distance, small signs of civilization that had frequented the Trail up until that point. Even in shit weather I was pretty impressed by Maine just a few hours in. After a steep section of downhill I encountered an intersection of trail with a sign directing AT hikers towards the Mahoosuc Notch. I had heard a lot about the Mahoosuc Notch over the second half of my thru-hike. What I had established by the time I reached it was that there would be a mile long ravine between two mountains, and in that ravine I would find thousands of car-sized boulders piled jumbled together at the bottom. It was deep enough to receive so little sun exposure that even in August it was common to encounter snow. The AWOL guide described it as “the most difficult or fun section of the AT.”

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It really wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Quite a bit of hands over hands and backtracking, not to mention it was wet and pretty cold down there so the rocks were a bit slippery. Under ideal conditions, I could see that section being a blast. I met a sobo, Youngblood, just as I exited the notch. We talked very briefly but he gave me a heads up that Cannonball was just ahead so I boosted ahead to catch up.

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Again, I didn’t make it as far as I had hoped. I caught up to Cannonball and yet another sobo who had posted up at a pretty luxurious shelter (it had a shelf in it). It started to rain again, every drop banging loudly against the tin roof. I was up a little later than usual talking to the southbounder about his past experiences on the AT. Soon enough the following morning came to be, though it wasn’t daylight that woke me. Instead, it was the cold, hard ground and the tin roof being peppered by rain that jolted me awake. It was colder than the day before, I had a feeling I was in for a long day.

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Shelter log June 13th:

“A bit behind schedule here… the weather has been pretty shit but I’m still getting miles in. Cut it real short at 10 miles today, the top of Baldpate was absolutely treacherous. Crazy winds were bringing the wind chill factor in hard, and it was straight up dumping the whole damn time. As soon as I hit tree line my face was getting pelted by downpour blowing sideways across the summit ridge. Worst weather on the trail yet for me anyways. I was completely drenched by the time I hit the summit, which is when the real shit kicked up. That wind chill gets pretty sketchy when you’re soaked, especially when you’re alpine and pretty much done for if you bust an ankle on that wet rock. I can only imagine getting caught in this sort of shit in the Presidential Range (or anywhere you might be stuck in an alpine zone for an extended period). It certainly explains how people die out here. I was able to eat plenty of Snickers and hustled to keep my body temp up. Got the place to myself tonight, kinda glad I took a short day. Feasting, jamming, smoking, and killing time… things I won’t be able to do as often once I get home. The AT is bittersweet, that’s for damn sure. Supposed to clear up tomorrow, if my shit actually dries well enough I might throw down some big miles. Stay warm and dry folks!

- Crush GA>ME T- 261.4”

Major shout out to Cannonball and Caribou who finished the trail at 9:00am yesterday! They made for awesome trail buddies and I hope to see them again in the future!

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Endgame

I had a pretty hilarious animal encounter earlier today. As I was making my way along the trial towards Monson I was distracted by a sudden movement and the chirping of a spruce grouse. Grouse, a sort of chicken/peasant-like bird, have been pretty common lately. I hear the males drumming their wings almost daily, and usually when I encounter one it immediately takes off chirping and loudly flapping its wings. This particular grouse did no such thing. Instead it proceeded to chirp and run away on the ground in an effort to lure me away from what was clearly its chick filled nest on the side of the trail. It ran ahead of me for a good minute before I noticed that I was actually following it down a dried up drainage.

“Shit,” I thought. I had to turn around and follow the drainage back to the AT in order to get back on track, and the grouse would certainly think that I was headed back towards its nest. That’s EXACTLY what happened. As I started walking back the grouse flared its feathers and came charging at me, chirping loudly. It retreated as I made a sharp turn back onto the trail, and continued to run ahead of me for a good 100 yards before cutting back towards its nest.

Anyways, I’m in Monson. 114 miles to go! The next time I post I’ll be done. Isn’t that exciting? It totally is. Also, I hiked 41.7 miles yesterday.

I was getting really discouraged and complaining quite a bit during my first week in Maine. The terrain was tremendously mountainous and rocky, which typically is something I enjoy. Unfortunately for me, the first 5 days through what some people considered the most beautiful part of the AT was nothing but rain, wind, and cold. I don’t want to say it sucked… it was just a little discouraging to scramble up and down mountains for 5 days straight without being able to snag a single view. Despite the adverse conditions I was able to make it through the Mahoosuc Notch, a mile of scrambling through a ravine of massive boulders (considered to be the most difficult part of the AT) in pretty good time.

On Baldpate Mountain I was scared for the first time on my thru-hike. The scramble towards the summit was much like what I had been dealing with all week, steep wet rock up a couple of feet. I was soaked from it raining all day, and although the temperatures were cold I was still able to keep a good enough pace to keep my body temperature up. Shit got real sour once I hit the alpine zone. As soon as I broke tree line I was greeted by 50 something mile per hour winds, pushing the wind chill factor well beyond my comfort zone. I had heard plenty of warnings about proceeding into alpine zones in bad weather and considered my options. I could either turn back and post up at the shelter a few miles back to wait for the weather to get better, or otherwise hope that the trail didn’t stay above treeline for too long and push through. Fat chance I was turning back… I pushed on.

I could feel my body temperature plummet. I quickened my pace as fast as I could up the stupidly steep slab towards the summit in an attempt to stay warm but it didn’t help much. Rain blowing sideways was pelting my face at such speed it almost felt like hail. All I could do was keep my head down and bust ass to the top. Conditions worsened as I got higher. Soon enough I understood how people manage to get themselves killed on mountains out here. Had anything happened on that slick, steep rock… a twisted ankle, a broken leg, anything to immobilize me in those conditions, I would have been totally fucked. Keeping my body in motion, constantly burning calories to keep warm was the only thing between making it off the mountain and a miserable hypothermic death on top of that godforsaken rock. I had that thought to comfort me as I continued on through the alpine zone after reaching the summit. There was never a more welcomed sight than the small patch of pines below me as I dipped back below the tree line.

My miserable attitude about the situation was soon improved, I got hooked up PHAT by a trail angel in Rangeley. After a big 30 mile day, Stephanie picked me up on the trail, fed me a huge pasta dinner, and allowed me to use the laundry, shower, and crash at her place. It got better from there. The weather cleared up and I was able to catch amazing views as I proceeded over Saddleback Mountain. A day hiker at the top told me that one of the distant peaks was Katahdin. I was pretty stoked about it at the time, although now I suspect that he might have been talking out of his ass. Regardless of whether its there or not, the thought of seeing Katahdin as I pass up and over each peak frequents my mind every day. It’s surreal to think that in just two more days my first glance at the finish line will be a real thing.

As much as I’d love to keep typing, I really want to enjoy the company of the Southbounders here at Shaw’s Hostel. It’s fun talking to the hikers just starting their odyssey when I’m so close to finishing mine… and I’ll have plenty of time to post pictures and ramble on later.

Much thanks to Stephanie for helping me out earlier this week! Also, mega care packages from my mom, and another one from my old Breck roommate Ben! Yall are the best.

- Crush

 

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The Finest Day

The day I arrived at Zealand Falls Hut I had heard rumors of good weather to come from multiple people. Considering how much I had heard about the Whites, especially the Presidential range, having the worst weather in the country I decided to pull out my guide book and form a solid plan for the following day.

From Zealand Falls hut I would proceed towards Mount Washington along a smooth, steady trail for 6 miles until I passed Ethan Pond Campsite. From there it was a steep 2000 foot descent into Crawford Notch resting at 1263 feet, and then a 3000 foot ascent up a gradual slope to Mt. Webster over the span of 5 miles. From there it was 4 more miles to the Mizpah cutoff where I would pass a hut prior to entering the alpine zone. Another 5 miles of alpine hiking and 1300 feet up the trail from there was the Lake of the Clouds Hut, nestled near the base of Mt. Washington’s summit ridge at 5106 feet. I figured that if I woke up early I could make my way all the way to Mizpah by noon. That would give me plenty of time to assess whether or not I could safely proceed to summit Mount Washington with the option of posting up at Lake of the Clouds if the weather ended up being sketchy.

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By 6:50am I was heading out the door of the hut. The weather was perfect for hiking. Cool enough with a steady breeze to keep the sweating down, and enough clouds in the sky to keep the sun from being a nuisance. Anxious to get going, I popped in the headphones and started making my way along the trail. Just as I was leaving one of the girls working at the hut ran out and gave me a full loaf of bread they baked the night before. I thanked her, ate half of it, stashed the rest, and continued on. As expected, the trail was smooth as glass (at least compared to the rest of the New Hampshire) and I made great time. I passed a sign that directed hikers towards a scenic waterfall about 1/3 of a mile off the trail. I decided to make the most of the day and head on over and have a safety meeting.

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I ended up booking it down to Crawford Notch where I ended up bumping into two NOLS alumni sitting by the road. They had done a hiking section in Patagonia together and were headed out to hit Mount Washington in two days. They bid me good luck and I proceeded across highway 302 towards the Webster Cliffs looming high above me. The elevation profile in my guidebook ended up being very misleading as the trail wasn’t steady at all. In fact, it wasn’t even a trail. Instead it was essentially sections of rock scrambling connected by short segments of uneven trail among rocks and roots. Some sections of the scrambling got exposed enough to compromise the thru-hike if I were careless enough to slip. Regardless, I totally busted up that shit. Among the people I passed was a big group of French-Canadians who make a snotty remark as I blew their doors off. I made sure to rip ass as soon as I was ahead of them.

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I made my way to the top of the cliffs where I proceeded to have another safety meeting and knock out another big chunk of the bread Abby gave me. The day was starting to warm up, not to mention I was already sweating like a pig from the intensity of the 3000 foot ascent behind me. I was feeling great regardless, and looking forward to the rest of the day considering most of the steep stuff was knocked out. I proceeded along a smooth, forested path to Mt. Jackson where I emerged upon a rock outcropping elevated above the surrounding trees. For the first time I was able to see Mount Washington. Surrounded by its sister peaks with its summit shrouded in clouds, the last major obstacle before Katahdin looked absolutely magnificent.

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At this point I was getting pretty stoked. It just around noon and there was plenty of time for the weather to clear up for a summit attempt. Worst case scenario, I was definitely making it to Lake of the Clouds that day. There was a group of dudes standing on top of Jackson enjoying the view as well. Like most people I’ve been meeting lately, they were completely amazed by the fact that I was a thru-hiker. The White Mountain National Forest receives a lot of visitors from nearby population centers like Boston and New York, most of them day or weekend hikers. Some of them have no idea what the Appalachian Trail is, and even the ones who do are quite astounded whenever they bump into us (especially this early). Earlier on in the hike, people would regard us as just another hiker passing through with plenty of miles to go. Now that we were over 1800 miles deep and proceeding through the hardest section of the hike a lot of the people we bump into treat us like superheros… and to be honest we fucking love it because they usually give us food.

We chatted for a bit about where we’ve traveled and lived. One of the guys dropped that he’d lived in Colorado for the past two winters. In Breckenridge. We had a total broment there. We looked at each other for that broment and understood each other. Understood that we had both waken up on a day off 2 hours earlier than we would for work when it dumped to get to the mountain first and shred first lines. Understood that we have both felt our hearts drop to the pits of our stomachs as we plummeted over a cornice into chest deep powder. Understood that we have both flown through the trees in the legendary glades of Breck known for their hidden pow stashes. Broment.

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They bid me good luck and I continued on to the Mizpah Spring Hut to fill up on water and feast on some leftover pastries they had available for sale. There were reports that the weather would continue to improve for the rest of the day. Anxious to continue, I quickly shoveled everything down after having a brief conversation with yet another NOLS alumni out for the weekend. I quickly made my way up a 500 foot climb and emerged above the treeline. In accordance with ritual, I removed my headphones and allowed myself to totally zone into the powerful environment. The Presidential Ridge extended miles before me, a bare stretch of rock and alpine vegetation savaged by the region’s notoriously extreme weather. The ridge had seen much worse conditions than I had experienced that day. A mild breeze was flowing over the mountain range as the sun occasionally burst through the cloud cover, creating a perfect hiking temperature. The good weather and the weekend brought summer crowds, small specks of color peppering the ridge as day hikers made their way up the Presidential Peaks. Most of all, I was overjoyed to see that the summit of Washington had totally cleared up.

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I was on fire. I passed group after group of hikers as I anxiously proceeded along the ridge and abandoned every care in the world. I briefly paused for yet another safety meeting when I approached a sign at an intersection, one path continuing along the AT, the other directing you an extra 200 feet to the summit of Mt. Eisenhower. I decided to bag an extra peak and proceed up the path to Eisenhower’s peak. The conditions couldn’t have been more perfect. Strong gusts were cooling the sweat on my body while the sunlight illuminated the alpine flowers around me. No words nor pictures could ever do such a moment justice, they never can. Every summit I have ever experienced remains an indescribable moment locked forever at that specific point in time. Nothing can be said or shown to help someone understand what is so glorious and rewarding about being in that moment. The experience itself and the challenge of getting there is something that must be obtained through the desire to be there, and I think everyone deserves that sort of experience.

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Soon enough I was at Lake of the Clouds Hut, nestled in the saddle between Mt. Monroe and Mt. Washington at 5000 feet. A popular destination for tourists who drive to the top of Mt. Washington, the hut was crowded when I entered for a quick stop to hydrate and attempt to yogi some food from the staff. Somehow they had no food to spare, so I made my way back outside where I was greeted by a pretty intense wind gust. Despite having already trekked 19 miles up 4,300 feet that day I was feeling pretty amped. The final push up a barren rocky slope was all that stood between me an the summit at that point. I decided to make that slope my bitch and proceeded to knock out the last 1000 feet in a matter of 30 minutes.

As much as I hate to say it, the summit was a bit disappointing. A handful of buildings catering to tourists and weather researchers had been erected all over what would otherwise be a quiet, desolate peak. There were people everywhere. Families with their screaming kids, Harley Davidson pecker-heads with their noisy bikes, clueless city-dwellers asking me to take their picture. I moved right on by all the riffraff to the north end of the summit. The wind was powerful, chilling my body and drowning out the noise generated by the tourists behind me. I was actually able to forget about the ruckus for a moment before one of the biker dudes offered to take my picture in exchange for me taking one of his buddies. I didn’t mind so much, so I snapped a quick shot of him before briefly explaining to him what I was doing. As he walked away shouting about it to his friends in utter disbelief I continued on my way.

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The remainder of my hike was an enjoyable cruise over Mt. Jefferson to Madison Spring Hut. It was getting later in the day and crowds had diminished, which was nice. My legs were starting to feel pretty rough at this point. My knees rattled with every step downhill, and the skin on my heels were rubbed raw from so much friction throughout the day. I was absolutely beat by the time I pushed over Thunderstorm Junction and to much relief saw the hut nestled in the notch below. Thankfully, I was the second hiker to arrive, and the energetic caretaker was happy to allow me to do work for stay. I took the time to talk to other hikers are the hut and met Cannonball, who had been just ahead of me on the trail for a couple days. I carried plate after plate of food outside the hut to feast with the hut staff, who were all amazingly friendly. Following dinner I polished some silverware before having one final safety meeting and crashing in the dining hall.

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I stuck around for breakfast the next day before heading out to summit Mount Madison before the 3,000 foot descent into the valley below. I. Was. Wrecked. The previous 28 mile day over gnarly terrain over an accumulated 6,500 something feet of elevation gain had taken its toll. My knees were shit, my feet were raw and bleeding… I even got my first blister. I popped some ibuprofen and had a safety meeting to attempt to compensate. Nothing could help. The descent down Madison was an insanely steep, rocky scramble that would have sucked even on fresh legs. I had talked to Cannonball the day before about making our way 21 miles to a shelter in the Wildcat range. That shit wasn’t going to happen. After heading down 3,000 feet I made my way along a decently smooth path for 5 miles before hitting yet another steep, rocky 2000 foot uphill. I sucked it up and kept a slow, steady pace to the top of Wildcat Mountain. Shortly before my final descent down to Carter Notch Hut I bumped into a section hiker named Sam. We made good conversation as I knocked out the last 3 miles to the hut, a steep 1000 foot scramble down to a pair of small mountain lakes. I was happy to see Cannonball decided to post up there for the evening as well, and made good conversation with the friendly staff as I feasted on leftovers.

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The following day was also pretty rough. It was kicked off with a 1500 foot scramble up another insanely steep incline before a final 15 mile push to US 2. The last 3 miles were pretty stressful. Not only was my body falling apart, but I was relentlessly attacked by mosquito and black flies to the point where music couldn’t even distract me from my misery. I didn’t bother stopping to rest when I arrived at the road. I headed straight to the White Mountains Lodge & Hostel where my mom (much appreciated) had shipped a care package. The caretaker, Barstool, was nice enough to offer me a ride into town which I happily accepted. I headed to the fascist library to hastily dish out what I could over the span of an hour before heading to the buffet down the road. I was considering heading back to the trailhead to stealth camp but elected to post up at the Hiker’s Paradise Hostel in town with Cannonball.

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Even though we made a quick day of getting to town and I was able to get off my feet for an entire afternoon I couldn’t help but agree with Cannonball when he proposed we take another zero. I mentioned that the White Mountains Lodge & Hostel where I picked up my mail appeared much nicer than the one we stayed at the night before. It also was located right on the trail, included free laundry AND breakfast, so our decision was pretty much made. We caught a ride back to the trail and made our way to the hostel where we were greeted by Marni and Molly. They checked us in and showed us around the place. I can’t help but say its the nicest hostel I’ve stopped at on the trail. The bunk rooms are insanely nice (one is David Hasselhoff themed), the caretakers are amazing, and we are given full access to the house. Best of all, I’ve been provided 5 hours of access to the computer so I could dish out this 2500 word novel of a blog post before I head off to Maine tomorrow. If you’re hiking the trail definitely make a stop here if the Whites beat the crap out of you, it’s ballin’.

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As I said, Maine tomorrow. It’s a bit surreal to be at the edge of the last stretch of what is easily the greatest journey I have ever embarked on. Ahead of me there is still a good 300 miles to dish out over the next 2 weeks and a lot of the terrain continues to be challenging. I also happen to be heading into Maine during its notoriously intense black-fly season. In any case, I’m confident about heading towards the finish line on fresh legs after an excellent zero day here at the hostel. Watch out Katahdin, here I come!

Anyways, I’ve been in front of a screen for far too long and need to go socialize with the wonderful people here. My last maildrop location has been updated, and you can probably expect one more update before I’m at the finish line. Thank you everyone for your continued interest and support, there are no words for how much I appreciate it.

- Crush

Categories: White Mountains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Whites

This library charges $1 ever half hour to use the computers so I’m going to do my best to give the last couple days the credit they deserve.

I’ll start with the bad stuff since it’s less abundant. My knees feel are pretty wrecked and the skin on my feet are rubbed raw. The White Mountain National Forest… well really the entire Appalachian Trail… knows nothing of switchbacks. In the west you’re generally treated to a nice, gradual path up a couple thousand feet with a bit of extra distance added on to spare you the pain of going straight up the side of the mountain. Not here. Whoever designed the AT was on cocaine or something, totally cracked out when they designed the trail because going straight up the mountain is exactly what happens. At first it’s really not so bad doing a 3000-4000 foot scramble with an occasional easy class 5 move up slippery rock for a couple of hours. Coming down though… it’s a bitch. Also all my gear has fallen apart aside from the ever-reliable pocket rocket.

Anyways, I ended up sticking around the Hikers Welcome Hostel until about 11am to catch the first half of Caddyshack before heading into the Whites. I was feeling pretty fresh after being off my legs for almost 24 hours and getting a full night of sleep on a bunk. I had also figured out how to get my headphones to work with my phone and was bumping some high-energy tunes on my way out the door. It was looking pretty gloomy out as expected, the White Mountains are notorious for insane weather conditions. Not a problem though. By the time I forged the river and followed the path towards Mount Moosilauke and officially entered the White Mountains, I was in Crush mode.

I had spent the previous evening glancing over maps and elevation profiles of the climb that day. 4,000 feet of elevation gain over 5 miles, followed by a 3.5 mile descent of 3,000 feet. I had taken note of landmarks such as streams and signs in order to monitor my progress up the mountain. As I climbed I kept looking for signs of a stream that marked the halfway point of my ascent to no avail. I was around 2 hours deep and confused about whether or not I missed the stream when I hit the treeline. The cloud cover had dispersed enough to reveal Moosilauke’s summit. I couldn’t believe how fast I got up there. I had been obsessing over the insane elevation profile of the mountain in my guide book for months thinking, “that one’s going to be a bitch.” And there I was… entering the alpine zone with plenty of energy to spare. Totally smashed that shit.

I had a safety meeting and proceeded to the summit where I had a pretty trippy experience watching the world around me disappear and reappear as the clouds moved about. There was a surprisingly light breeze and I was the only one up there. I took the opportunity to shout in ecstasy for a few minutes before proceeding down the steep descent along a very scenic stream frequented by waterfalls and plenty of slippery rock. I even found some trail magic in the form of stream cooled beer at the base. Pictures never do it justice but here’s what I got.

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The next day I tackled another massive hike to Franconia Ridge (in the last photo above), considered by some to be one of the most scenic sections of the AT. Not for me, damn was it windy. I couldn’t see much more than a hundred feet ahead of me as the clouds whipped over the summit at what must have been a good fifty miles per hour. For the first time on my thru-hike I had donned every single layer in my pack and actually managed to stay warm aside from my hands. There were a couple other hikers up there but nobody stopped to talk since we were all probably thinking the same thing: get below the treeline before this shit gets worse. Literally for me though. I tried to make good time, I really did. I made a huge mistake of not using the privy before I left the shelter the night before and was desperately trying to get to an ideal spot to make a movement but I just couldn’t do it. LNT went out the window as I bounded off the trail over some alpine plants to a spot behind the rocks shielding me from the wind. Definitely the worst poop of the thru-hike.

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That night I stayed at Zealand Falls Hut and did a work for stay. Throughout the Whites there are a handful of lodges up in the mountains running off solar power where you can pay $125 bucks to crash on a bunk and eat dinner and breakfast. Not bad if you love hiking but not so much the camping aspect of it. If you’re a thru-hiker, you have the privilege of doing something like washing dishes in exchange for crashing in the dining room and feasting on leftovers. The huts are staffed by a bunch of college aged kids who live up in the mountains with their buddies for the summer cooking food for tourists and occasionally stirring the compost pit between sessions of hiking and hanging out. It would make for a sick summer job, I was kind of bummed I had never heard of such an opportunity before. In any case it was pretty clutch to be able to stay indoors and eat unlimited food after a pretty crazy day. They only allow 2 thru-hikers a night to do work for stay, another reason I’m happy I started early.

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Anyways, I’m out of computer time… or maybe I’m just anxious to hit the Chinese buffet down the street. I’ll do another update when I’m not at some fascist library that charges you for internet time.

- Crush

Categories: White Mountains | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gnar

Mowing down a quart and a half of ice cream right now. I also did end up scoring that free piece of pizza on the way out of Hanover, in addition to a pint of Ben & Jerry’s that I ate on my way back into the woods. I was feeling really good that day having given my legs a chance to rest over 18-22 mile days on top of so much food.

So 400 miles to go now. I’m at Hikers Welcome Hostel repairing my gear, punishing some food, and hanging out with the other hikers here. Tomorrow I head into the White Mountains, which I suppose some might say is the hardest part of the AT. I start the day tomorrow with a 7 mile climb up 4,000 feet, and then make my way down an even steeper grade to hit some more gnarly shit that will continue over the next week at least. To be honest I’m stoked, nothing gets me amped like really big climbs. I’ve been eyeballing Mt. Moosilauke and I can guess that although its summit is less than 5,000 vertical feet, it is easily as big as a lot of the 14,000 foot peaks I’ve climbed in Colorado. Got a lot of these big climbs coming up, and I’m stoked for all the views.

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The absolute best part about all upcoming peaks are the alpine summits (moving on to a bag of potato chips now). This means that I will no longer be needlessly climbing thousands of feet of bullshit just to arrive on a heavily forested, viewless peak. Instead, I will be needlessly climbing thousands of feet of bullshit to emerge above treeline and totally trip on life as I gaze upon hundreds of miles of wilderness in every direction. Of course, this is all provided that the weather is good. The Whites get snow every month of the year, and of course as we all know Mount Washington once held the highest wind speed record in the world at 231 mph. Needless to say it might get a little crazy, but crazy can be fun.

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Almost forgot. So I’ve gone 1,700 whatever miles without seeing a bear. I saw five two days ago. I was making my way up a needless climb that morning when I heard a crashing noise to my left. At first I suspected a porcupine since I’ve been seeing a lot of them. I looked through the trees to see maybe 100 feet away a bear the size of my pack running away from me up the hill, a little cub right behind it. After making my way to the top of that climb not so scenic climb and being swarmed by midgies, I heard some more rustling. There it was, a big fat bear sitting behind a tree. We made some eye contact, and his two buddies booked it up the hill away from me. I proceeded to take a couple pictures of him, and he started the snort at me in frustration for ruining his happy bear fun time. I was going to challenge him to fisticuffs but continued on in an effort to make good time.

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Been chilling with Caribou still. Caribou is from Alaska and has done all sorts of crazy shit. He’s climbed Denali, Aconcagua, and the highest peaks in each of the 50 states. He’s hunted pretty much every major game animal in Africa except the rhino. He toured on the USS Midway from 1978-1982 creating a ruckus all over the Pacific. He’s toured Antarctica, stood his ground against grizzly bears… it goes on and on. I’ll probably get ahead of him tomorrow, but it has been very awesome hearing about his life over the past few nights.

Not a lot of opportunity to get post let alone get cell reception coming up here but I’ll see what I can do. I’ll be done in 3 weeks so I’ll try to squeeze one in!

- Crush

Categories: New England, White Mountains | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gluttony

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Vermont was dope. For the most part it was always rainy or otherwise wet, mosquitos were everywhere, and the trail was mostly mud, but damn was it scenic. Everything is completely grown in and I’m beginning to see why the AT is sometimes called “the long green tunnel.” I can no longer gaze through the trees at the landscape around me to get a feel of the area while I hike. Now it’s just green shit everywhere, completely surrounding me to the point where popping on top of a mountain and seeing what’s actually around me is trippy enough to make me needlessly shout in amusement.

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I had a bit of a scare a few days ago. I had been desperately trying to ration food well enough to just barely make it to Killington in order to arrive at a maildrop with no extra food. I was smashing out a lot of consecutive 30+ mile days over pretty hilly/mountainous terrain and eating rationed food for about a week, at that point I could already feel my body breaking down. One night I started pissing blood, and elected to stop at the hospital in Rutland instead of pushing ahead as planned.
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The next day was absolute shit. I had no idea what was causing the blood in my urine, so I decided not to purify any water (which ended up being fine) out of fear of my iodine tablets being the cause. The trail was incredibly rocky and wet on top of my body being garbage from a lack of food, so I ate shit a couple of times. The mosquitos were awful, I felt a fever coming on, I was hungry, worn-out, all of my gear was falling apart, and on top of it all I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d be getting to the hospital to discover that my thru-hike was over. I flipped out. I took a fall and slammed my trekking pole into a tree, bending it in half. If course, the pole survived. I bent it back into shape… the damn thing has somehow survived well since its partner was destroyed in North Carolina long ago.

22 miles into the day I got to VT 103 with the expectation that I was probably going to have trouble hitching a ride. I looked like shit even though I took out my corn rows in an attempt to make myself appear less sketchy, not to mention my smile was obviously feigned. A couple dozen cars sped past me before I was banging my pole against the guard rail in frustration. Of course, as soon as I turned around there was a man in a car on the other side of the road waving at me. The guy had seen me on his way down and turned around to pick me up and give me a ride all the way to the hospital. Such a bro move, it’s not often you’ll get a ride in less than 10 minutes if you’re a dude who hasn’t showered in over a week.

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So the hospital didn’t find shit of course. I went in there expecting to get some antibiotics for a UTI (which there was actually no evidence of) and sent on my way… which they did, only over the span of 6 hours. Regardless, it was an odd bit of luck that I went to the hospital considering a tornado came ripping through town about an hour after I got there. I shit you not, the building was rumbling from the wind, and the subject of whether or not vehicles were insured for golf-ball sized hail frequented conversations I overheard over the next two evenings.

My dad pulled a baller move and hooked me up with a hotel for the evening. Lyndsey ordered me a pizza on top of the two large milkshakes I bought at McDonalds, and I decided to throw down on an extra night at the hotel and give myself a much needed zero day. I spent the next 24 hours feasting and watching World War I and II documentaries on the History Channel (it was showing historically relevant content for once, weird right). My dad’s friend Mike also happened to be coming through town and stayed at the hotel I was at. Mike proceeded to dish out some serious trail magic hooking me up with an insanely good dinner, ice cream, plenty of trail food, and good company until I left the next morning.

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I took it super slow the day I left Rutland. I haven’t pushed more than 22 miles since and have been taking lots of breaks and smashing tons of food. Part of this is due to an insanely heavy pack due to an abundance of food, but I love it. My mom, grandma, Jeff, and Lyndsey all sent me what must collectively be at least 15 pounds of food. I have been absolutely FEASTING for the past two days, maintaining good health and knocking off weight for the challenging terrain ahead.

About that. Today I crossed over to New Hampshire from Vermont. That means less than 450 miles to go and only two states left. It also means that what remains on the trail is nothing but a bunch of kickass alpine climbs, bodacious boulder fields, and straight up gnarly wilderness all the way to the end… it’s the moment I’ve been waiting for. In two days I will be in the White Mountain National Forest sending big ass peaks for about a week before I hit Maine. Then there’ll be some more peaks, and then some woods, and then Katahdin.

I’m trying to make it last though. Slowing down has made me re-appreciate the long cultural aspect of the Trail, long forgotten since I started dishing out the major miles. In the past three days of slowing down I’ve hung out with probably four times as many hikers as I have in the past two weeks. I met the first 2014 southbounder, Sodapop, provided his story was legit. He claims to have started at Katahdin in March, which a lot of us are skeptical about, but you can never really know. I like to think he’s for real, and just a super gnarly badass dude. Another notable hiker, Caribou, is an older man from Alaska who has climbed Denali, Aconcagua, hunted a bunch of big game in Africa… all sorts of really crazy shit.

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Upon making my way into New Hampshire I was immediately greeted by a trail angel who offered me her place to stay. She, along with her neighbor, also had trail magic boxes at the end of their driveways. It certainly has sometime to do with the fact that I’m early, but a lot of the people in Hanover, NH seemed completely stoked about seeing a thru-hiker. I was given a free doughnut by some girls selling baked goods on the main street, and ended up eating so much Indian food that I might have to skip out on free bagels and pizza down the road. Hanover is freaking legit.

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Anyways, I could sit here and type all day about what’s been going on but unfortunately the library didn’t open till 1pm and I have to put some more miles down so I can beat some nasty weather to the big mountains up ahead. Everyone has been insanely helpful lately, I honestly might have snapped and done something stupid like consider quitting if it wasn’t for all the support I get out there. Thank you everyone for your continued interest and support, I’ll try to post again soon!

- Crush

Categories: New England | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mozzies

I’ve been getting a lot of trail magic lately. I have been frequently encountering a lot of goodies on the trail… and not just food. In the past two weeks I have acquired an ultralight sleeping bag, dromedary, a bottle of iodine tablets, and an unopened pack of aquamira. I also found a 5′ x ‘7 lightweight tarp but I decided to leave it. I suppose I have been picking up a decent amount of trash resulting in my trail karma providing good fortune as compensation, but really there are just a lot of great people in the world that have restored my faith in humanity.

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I’ve been doing a lot of distance over the last two weeks as I mentioned in my last post, lately my standard mileage has been 30 miles give or take a few. It’s been a little rough hiking in changing conditions after getting used to warm days and cool nights and relatively flat terrain. Spring is now in full force. At the beginning of the week I was hiking in heavy rainfall over a LOT of rocks. I was always wet despite my rain gear and slips were pretty common. Fortunately though it was warm enough even at night that I never fell asleep wet and shivering.
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A few days ago it finally let off resulting in plenty of muddy trail and puddles for insects to breed in. There wasn’t a moment in the day where gnats weren’t buzzing in front of my face and getting sucked into my nostrils as I inhaled heavily on the steep, rocky uphills of New England. The temperatures are much hotter now, almost always in the 70s during the day causing me to sweat a lot. This really isn’t much of a problem considering it rained recently and water is always in ample supply. Although my muscles feel fine, my knees a little sore from increasingly bigger uphills and downhills, my feet have become much more difficult to maintain (still not a single blister).

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And worst of all, as of today, the bane of human existence has finally emerged: mosquitos. Fucking everywhere. Nonstop. If I stop for so much as a second over a dozen will immediately land on me. Sure, it keeps me going, but it damn sure makes it a lot more difficult to stop and grab water or check the guidebook. I can confidently say I miss the days when all I worried about when stopping was my body temperature temporarily dropping. I had been warned about this, and the black flies in Maine, but there really isn’t much to help it unless you want to wear more clothing.

It has been awesome in any case. I definitely need to slow down a bit since consecutive 30s are starting to take their toll, but the weather honestly couldn’t be better at the moment and despite the mosquitos I can’t complain. The trail angel situation has been as good as ever. I have been feasting on the awesome freeze dried foods Nicole sent me, and I just received yet another awesome care package from my mom containing a lot of much needed protein. Also, for the second time in a week I have been given a ride to and from the trail, a warm place to stay, and plenty of good food (had a 14″ mac n cheese and brisket pizza to myself and almost an entire half gallon of ice cream today), and most of all good company. Much thanks to Carly, Emily, and Jen for all their hospitality and letting me crash on their couches.

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I’m getting pretty psyched up at the moment. New England is bringing bigger mountains, and although it has been plenty rocky I’m starting to encounter much longer, steadier uphills with great views at the top and it is beyond awesome. I am very much looking forward to Vermont, and especially New Hampshire and Maine with all the famous climbs they’ll bring. Although I am trying to get done in time to stop in Boston for a quick visit before heading home I’m also making sure to make the most of my time on the Trail as well. It has been quite a ride, and there is still a lot more to go, but it’ll be a while before I’m back out here… especially for another thru-hike.

Again, I’d much like to thank everyone for their continued support through all of this. I really couldn’t do it without you guys, and it wouldn’t be the same awesome experience if I could. I’ll spend another week focusing mostly on the trail and hopefully post again in Vermont.

Peace!

Categories: New England | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beast Mode

I’ve been making really good time over the past few days. I did 29.5 miles yesterday, 31 the day before that, and am planning on making an average of 25 miles a day over the rest of the thru-hike (although the White Mountains will certainly slow me down a bit). It’s becoming a bit more difficult to judge the amount of distance I’ll be making each day since the terrain is almost never consistent. I’ll luck out and make great time with some nice long stretches of flat, dirt trail only to encounter miles upon miles of sharp rocks and boulder scrambling to knock my mileage back down. People are saying that all of this rock nonsense ends a bit further into New York, but people say lots of things.

My attitude about the hike has changed multiple times since Georgia. I went into the thru-hike hoping to absolutely smash the whole thing in a 100 days… which of course isn’t going to happen. Upon that realization I decided that I was going to take my time and enjoy the hike, making sure to stop into lots of towns and meet lots of people instead of focusing on the hiking itself. Then I’d get overly ambitious and try to make good miles for a week before again convincing myself to take it easy.

It’s a bit different now. Every couple of days I go to the map in the back of my guidebook and highlight the parts of the trail I’ve already completed. It was a bit discouraging at first when I would glance at the map and visual my lack of progress even though I had gone hundreds of miles. Now the end is in sight, there’s only a couple dozen more dashes between myself and Maine, and I get pretty stoked when I can highlight a couple dashes every other day. At this point I take it day by day. I stop in town when I feel like it, find myself taking 1-2 hour breaks in the middle of the day to enjoy the good weather and stretch. I try to be sure to put away at least 20 miles a day while making an effort to soak it all in while I’m out here.

I caught up with Hutch and plan on hiking with him for at least a good amount of time. It’s supposed to rain like crazy tomorrow, hopefully the rocks let up a bit (they’re quite treacherous when they’re wet) so I can continue to put down lots of miles. There are still a couple of people ahead that passed me while I was in DC, so Imma keep crushin’!

Peace

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