Sunday, December 7, 2008

Squaw Peak

A view of Timp from Squaw Peak

The Utah winter has been pretty mild so far this year which means I had a chance to summit another local peak without wearing snowshoes. So yesterday, Dustin, Ben and I left at 6:00am for Squaw Peak. I could tell it was going to be another glorious day for hiking because the stars were out.

The hike was pretty straightforward because of the easily distinguishable trail and the lack of snow. We started at the Rock Canyon trailhead heading east along the trail, eventually leaving it to head northwest and follow the trail up the First Left Fork drainage. This trail dumps into a beautiful meadow as you reach the Squaw Peak Ridge.

View of Timp from the meadow at the top of the First Left Fork trail

From there is was a short hike to the southwest and the summit. We reached the top around 9:30am. As expected, the views were spectacular. I especially liked being at the peak as the sun rose above Provo Peak.

View of Rock Canyon from Squaw Peak. You can see the parking lot and the Provo temple near the top of the photo.

Sunrise over Provo Peak from Squaw Peak

I would have liked to hang around some more but I had a team meeting to work on a couple of projects for school at 1:00. We headed down the trail and got to our cars around 10:30. I had a great time. I am feeling comfortable with the terrain to the east and am feeling more confident about attacking the bigger mountains just to the east of my last three climbs. The challenge is that real winter weather is coming. I am afraid I may have to wait till next summer to hike the big ones. Snowshoeing anyone?!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Maple Mountain

It is getting cold here in Provo. Snow has already fallen in the mountains to the east a few times and I decided I had to get up there before winter really set in.

I decided to go after Maple Mountain. It is just over 9000' and stands directly to the east. One big challenge with this particular choice was there are no trails to the summit..... and I underestimated how much snow was still on the ground.

Originally I was going to hike by my lonesome but decided late to post a general invitation to people in the MBA program to join me if they wanted to. Dustin Cook decided to join in. We headed out from my place at 6:00am, climbed up to the Y and continued up through Slide Canyon to Bear Flats. Starting at Bear Flats the ground was entirely covered with 6-12" of snow and we were hiking on terrain neither of us had ever hiked. We were able to follow animal tracks and occasional footprints up to Apache Flats but from this point on there was no trail and no foot traffic to follow. We bushwhacked up to the ridge running northeast from the peak and stomped through the snow making it to the peak just after 10:00am.

The peak of Maple Mountain.

The views made the tough climb more than worth it. This was my first real view of all the mountains to the east of Provo that Y Mountain and Squaw Peak hide. I could also see Provo Peak, Freedom Peak, Cascade Mountain and a number of the big peaks to the north and south including Timp, Lone Peak, Nebo, and Spanish Fork Peak.

View of Provo Peak (left) from Maple Mountain

View of Cascade Mountain from Maple Mountain

As you probably guessed, the whole experienced whetted my appetite for more. My guess is that I won't get a lot more in this winter but I may be able to go after a couple of smaller ones (i.e. Squaw Peak) on snowshoes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Crawford Notch Campground

Well I woke up at 5:45 and it was cold! Boy did it get cold last night. My bag kept me warm but my nose was chilly. The cold air made it hard to put my damp clothes on but I did just the same because the sky was completely blue! I don't think I have ever appreciated seeing blue sky so much.

I probably was hiking by 6:30 and was loving the views. I made it past Galehead Hut before 8:00 and then up South Twin where I was finally rewarded with the views I had been waiting for. The view may very well have stretched as far as the Adirondacks in NY and definitely included Mt. Washington to the NE.

I was very grateful for such a beautiful vista. I have enjoyed the whole experience with the rain and clouds but having this morning was a special reward. It is a good thing too because it didn't last!

I stopped at the Zealand Hut for hiker soup (leftovers from last nights dinner), some gingerbread, and lemonade for $5. I ate until I almost felt sick and then took off around 12:45.

I decided then that I was just going to hike out instead of staying at a campsite tonight. The hike down from the hut to the road was pretty amazing too because it flattened for miles! I think I may have even hit a 3 mile/hour pace for a few miles. ..... that was definitely a first. Not only was it flat but the trail was like crushed stone... heaven to walk on!

The only problem was.... it started pouring around 1:00. Ah.... all good things must come to an end. It was almost funny for me though because it was like the trail's farewell. The AT wanted to make sure that I was literally rained on every day! After making it to the parking lot, I met a guy named Mike who was waiting for his buddy Dave but was also doing some trail magic while waiting. I enjoyed a banana and gatorade and conversation and then I walked the final 1/2 mile to 302 where I was able to quickly get a hitch to the campground. The guy was a tourist from Boston and I was grateful for the ride which saved me from a 3 1/2 mile hike on the road.

After checking in I found that Cranky Pete was already there. He had hiked pretty far yesterday and finished the short hike to Crawford Notch today. Later on Mike, Dave, Pinenut, Half Ounce and Pogo all showed up. We have had a great time chatting, joking around and we all threw together a grill night of burgers, dogs and kielbasa.

I feel kind of wierd leaving the trail. I know it has only been 2 weeks but I feel like I am abandoning the people who are pushing on. They don't need me but there is definitely a sense of community. I feel like many have accepted me largely because of the large section I have been doing. It has been fun meeting them and sharing in their journeys.

That being said, I am ready to go home. My personal journey is back at home with Anne and the boys and getting my MBA. Staying here longer would be too self indulgent. I am grateful that I could come and that Anne supported me. Now it is time to go home and help support her. Kurt was nice enough to head up to get me early so I will be heading to RI tonight. I still have the goal to finish this trail and I will be back next year.... I don't know which section but I will be back!

Mileage - 17.4 miles on the AT

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Garfield Ridge Campsite

Snake Whisperer, Shelter Monkey, Cranky Pete and I all caught Dutch's 7:30 shuttle back up to the bike path at the Franconia Notch State Park visitors center and took off. Would you believe it started pouring as soon as we got there? So much for the sun in the forecast! We split up soon after hitting the AT trail because it began its steep climb to Franconia Ridge. I felt very strong today and powered up the climb to Liberty Springs Campsite. Not too long after that I crossed above treeline and onto Franconia Ridge.

Now they say optimum hypothermic conditions are 40-50 degrees, cool breeze, and rain/mist. Unfortunately those are exactly the conditions I found all the way up to Mt. Lafayette.

So it was good that I felt strong becuase my body heat is what was keeping me from getting in a dangerous situation. I realized this and made it a point to never rest for very long. I was beat when I reached the summit at 11:45 and I began descending a little dissappointed that the forecasted sun had never arrived. That being said, hiking in the clouds above treeline was almost ethereal/other worldly. It kept reminding me of a scene from Lord of the Rings.

Luckily during my descent and then climb of Mt. Garfield, the clouds parted and I got my first real views of the trip. It was outstanding.

Because I was worried about being hypothermic, I had not stopped to eat or really rest this morning at all and by the time I reached the campsite at 2:30-3:00, I was feeling weak and kind of cold. I tore into my food and got out of my wet clothes and all was well.

During the long afternoon I had to kill, I chatted with the caretaker, Claire. She thru hiked the AT in '03 and was cool to chat with. In the offseason she manages the waste disposal and recycling operations at a science station at the South Pole! Sweet.

The rest of the time I read The Brothers Karamazov (or at least part of an abridged version) and chatted with the few others who came to the shelter. It started to get very, very cold so I crawled into my sleeping bag early. I bet by the time we went to bed it was in the lower 50s and probably will get into the 40s during the night.

I still haven't decided where I will hike to tomorrow. We will have to see if I want to stay at Ethan Pond or spend a 2nd night at the hiker hostel at Crawford Notch.

Mileage - .7 Franconia Notch State Park to the AT, 10.3 miles on the AT

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lincoln, NH

To say the rain is getting annoying would be an understatement! However, I would be lying if I didn't say today was a great day in it's own right. The day started early again (around 7:00). Our shelter had been full with only 5 hikers (Pond Scum, Cranky Pete, Professor, Blazing Socks and I). I knew it was going to be a short day for me so I told the guys who were interested that I would catch a shuttle from Dutch with them at the bottom and took off by 7:30.

I totally understand how hard the Kinsman Peaks would be but I must have been looking towards Lincoln too soon. The climbs were very steep and even a scramble at times in both directions. By the time I made it down to Lonesome Lake Hut my knees were screaming! I had got myself in front of the group of hikers so I stopped to wait in the cafeteria area of the hut. These places are pretty cool. You are way up in the woods and bam! there is a mini hotel. This particular one had enough space for 48 customers. Amazing. The only downer was that the staff wasn't really all that friendly. My guess is that they are tired of seeing thru hikers or something. Unfortunately, my overall impression of these AMC huts was that they are a cool, overpriced concept with unpersonable staff. Oh well! Not a great first impression but my mind could still change. I will have to see how things go the next time.

Anyway, I left because I didn't really care to hang around any longer. The lake was pretty cool thought. About 1/2 mile down the trail... guess what happened?.... it started raining! I didn't really care but it certainly is the continuation of a theme. I finally made it down to US 3. I wrung out my shirt and sat down and waited for some others to show up. Cranky Pete finally showed up and we walked to the Flume Visitors Center... you guessed it.... in the pouring rain.

After a reuben and french fries, Dutch came and picked us up and dropped us off at Chet's. After showering and doing laundry we headed into town (a short 1/2 mile walk) where I finally replaced my busted belt buckle and then we had pizza before heading back to Chet's. Today's theme has been getting to know people on the trail....
Chet's Place

My home for the night.

Cranky Pete - oldest of 4 boys plus 3 other adoptees. Lives in NJ near the high point. Graduated with an undergrad in marketing and is still sorting out what he is doing next in life. Went to Syracuse. Grandparents live in Peru, VT.

Professor - Went to Bowdoin College. Undergrad in Chemistry. Starting grad school in chemistry next month.

Blazing Socks - Undergrad in mechanical engineering. Recently married (I can't believe he is out here). Started on the trail in Virginia.

Dutch (trail name) - Has been yellow blazing (driving) and hiking sections as she goes for years. She is currently shuttling people around in Lincoln. She only charged Pete and I $3 for the ride. She wouldn't accept more than that. Just the cost of gas and that is it.

Grandpa Joe - Undergrad in Computer Science. He workds at US Steel making internal online apps. He is starting school again in 15 days and is probably going to miss the last 100 miles of the trail (that stinks)

Foot Note - From North Carolina. The only other LDS person I have met on the trail. I picked up on this when I heard him talk about his daughter going to BYU. He is writing a book about his trail adventures.

Chet (short for Chester) - The guy is amazing. In 2001 he had an accident with an MSR stove that left him badly burned and 7 years later he is still fighting the effects. His sight is still severly damaged. He really only sees flashed of light that apparently fire as his nerves continue to grow. is story includes 8 flatlines and many organ failures. Basically it is more than one miracle that he is alive. Anyway, his determination and outlook on life are inspirational. He basically now just loves to be part of the AT community and loves having us all here. He doesn't charge a dime but does accept donations from us. I have him $20 for his hospitality.

Well it was a good day on the whole. Not much for pumping out miles but great nonetheless. I have a 7:30 shuttle lined up for tomorrow and believe it or not the forecast is for .... sun! It couldn't have come at a better time because I am hiking up Franconia Ridge and above treeline tomorrow morning!

Trail Names - One Gallon, Grandpa Joe, Chet, Dutch, Snake Whisperer, Shelter Monkey

Mileage - 8.8 miles on the AT, 1 to the Flume Visitors Center

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eliza Brook Shelter

After a relatively short night's sleep (~6 hours) I woke up at 7:00 and packed up my gear. The hostel was fun for me (maybe a little expensive for what you get) but I have heard some complaints about it since from some of the NOBOs. I guess I just didn't know any better. It was just good to not have everything feel sticky for a few hours.

I started the day by fording the Olevarian Brook which had calmed down considerably since yesterday... which made the crossing a bit anticlimactic. The climb up Moosealaukee actually went really well. The trail wasn't very wet and it had a pretty constant pitch which seemed to help me just attack it. I actually really enjoyed the long climb and found myself at the peak with few breaks in the clouds where I could actually see the valley below. The sun tried hard to break through too but was mostly unsuccessful. This was my first summit on the trail above the tree line and although I didn't have any spectacular views, I still loved the hike.

The hike down the north side was just as engaging. After a lunch of Ramen and Pop Tarts, I headed down the treacherous (the forest service's words, not mine) north side of the mountain. Dangerous was right. The decline was very steep and it was stepped out with rebar hand holds in many places. Having it be wet only added to it.

The coolest thing was that the trail paralleled a brook that gained in volume and intensity as the hike progressed. So the hike was loaded with waterfalls, cascades and the sound of rushing water. It was awesome!

The only problem with having such a great morning was that I still had an 8 mile hike ahead of me and as luck would have it, it was all wet, all muddy, and mostly uphill! It was fine but I was really dragging by the end and was starting to lose the mental edge I had been maintaining. It was probably one of the hardest afternoons, physically, I have had.

The good news is that now I am a full day ahead of schedule.... like tomorrow night was when I was scheduled to be at this shelter. That means with just a few days left, I have a day to kill somewhere. I think I am going to take it as an extra day along the Franconia Ridge or maybe at the hostel in Crawford Notch. Either way, I am going to stay at the hostel in Lincoln (Chet's) tomorrow and hopefully, finally get my buckle replaced at the Lahouts outfitters in town.

For the last three days, have ended up with Cranky Pete, Blazing Socks and Professor at the same shelter. That has made for good conversation as we rehash the day, the impressions, the emotions and people's histories.

I can feel the end of the trail coming soon now. I do welcome it but I know I will long to return as well.

Trail Names - Pond Scum, Footnote (writing a book)

Mileage - 17 miles on the AT

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Warren, NH

What a full day today! I actually had a great night sleep with only minor interruptions from the one snorer two pads over. My solution was to play the iPod and try and block him out. The thing that finally woke me up was a downpour that started around 4:00am. I woke up and went back to sleep hopelessly wishing it would stop before the morning came. As expected, 7:00 came and the rain was still coming down hard. I decided to get up anyway and hit the trail around 7:30 in the pouring rain. The first summit was Mt. Cube and hiking it in the rain was awesome! As I neared the summit and came out of the trees the wind and rain would pelt me and I had visibility of about 50 feet. I was loving it! It continued to rain all morning and as it did the hills began to release the water too. Our trails turned into streams, my boots filled with water and by 9:00am everything was a swamp. After a while, I just started stepping into puddles up to my ankles that I normally would try to avoid because the wetness just didn't matter.

At one point (Bartlett Brook?) a normally easy brook crossing turned into a ford because the water had swelled so high. I threw my boots around my shoulders and walked into the water completely barefoot (not normally a smart thing but I had a great time!). It was so much fun for me. The only downer for the morning was that I really, really had to use the privy for most of the morning's hike. By the time I reached Ore Hill Shelter around 11:15-11:30 it was at emergency status. It was easily the nastiest privy I have ever seen but it was a beautiful sight to me!

After some cocoa and a snack at the shelter, I decided to move. Clothesline opted to stay behind as he wasn't looking forward to more hiking in these conditions. There were also two hikers (Red and Thought Criminal) who were obviously taking a zero at the shelter. It seemed a lot of people weren't looking forward to moving today.

Around 12:30 the rain mostly stopped for the day and I was already on my way to Glencliff. As I was cruising along (~1 mile from my goal) I stopped in my tracks because about 20 feet off the trail was a big cow moose! She didn't seem too surprised to see me so I took a couple of shots and moved on.

Glencliff was pretty cool too. I decided to stay at the Hiker Hostel.

I showed up and there were already more than 15 people there (some for more than 3 days). The place is pretty cool (although it could definitely use a little bit of cleaning). There is a bunk room upstairs that sleeps 10 (3 bunk beds, 2 couches, and a couple of mattresses on the floor). I have a floor mattress. Also people tent outside. There is a grill, an outdoor shower, a computer, a common room, a DVD player, TV and hundreds of movies. I took a shuttle into Warren and stocked up on food including some instant gratification... namely some pizza and a sandwich. Our driver, Fat Chap, helps out with the hostel and gave us a tour of Warren that was pretty fun.

When we got back I enjoyed a lot of conversation, did laundry, did email, and took a shower. I had originally planned to do all shelters (no hostels) but I realize now that that would have been a mistake. Meeting all these people and experiencing this part of the trail is a big part of hiking the AT. This has been fun and a great recharge after a fun but grueling day in the swamp! It was easily the wettest day of hiking I have ever had. Tomorrow may be my toughest day yet if I try to make it all the way to Eliza Brook. We will see how things go. It is also the start of the White Mountains!

Trail Names - Half Ounce, Pogo, Pinenut, Fat Chap, Possum, Stretch, Red, Thought Criminal, Rockamimi, NoCar, Professor, Ozzy, Lieutenant (or Mr. F---ing Gentle Spirit), Slim, Bogie

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hexacuba Shelter

Well the plan was to start taking it a bit easier now that the White Mountains are getting nearer but since I left at 7:00 and was pretty strong until mile 10 or 11, I decided to switch things up from my original plan and stretch the day out. The hike up Smart's Mountain was pretty good but it was also tough. Along the way I missed one turn at the top of Holt's Ledge but was able to correct it .1 miles later at the chairlift for a ski resort. The views from Holt's Ledge and Smart's Mountain were both pretty spectacular. On top of Smarts Mountain there was a great big fire tower (kind of like Stratton Mountain in Vermont). From the top you could see pretty far off.

View from Holt's Ledge

Stairs heading down from the fire tower

I left Clothesline and Cranky Pete this morning assuming they would pass me sometime along the way but I never saw them today so I am not sure where they ended up. Blazing Socks was in front of me but I never saw him either. Last night was my first night without a woman in the shelter and all the bodily functions going on told the story as well!

I arrived at Hexacuba Shelter .... or more like dragged myself in around 5:00 to find it was mostly populated by SOBOs and this crazy old guy, "Biking Ray".... who seems to be a local of sorts. He is up hiking around for a few days and will be heading back down tomorrow. Oh! While I was writing, I guess, Clothesline walked by. I must have missed him. It is good to see that someone else made it in.

Anyway, the shelter is actually shaped like a hexagon. We are all sleeping with our feet together in the center and we are going to be packed in. On top of it it seems tent sites are likely to be packed as well. I already counted 12 people and more people keep trickling in.

Tomorrow, I am thinking I will make it all the way into Glencliff and have a nice dinner! It should be 15 miles or so but the hiking looks relatively easy.

Two of the SOBOs that showed up are obviously high and they were telling all kinds of crazy stories about their slack packing adventures and all the crazy experiences they have had in every town. Smoking (not necessarily pot) is definitely a trail pass time and is part of the hiking culture. Most seem to roll their own and the preferred brand appears to be American Spirit.

Trail Names - Beetle

Mileage - 17.9 miles on the AT

Monday, August 4, 2008

Moose Mountain Shelter

I jumped on the free Orange Route bus into Hanover at 7:30 and made sure to get a few errands done. I got a haircut (I decided to stay with the buzz cut), searched fruitlessly for a replacement belt buckle (although I did figure out an alternative to the duct tape I have been using since day 1.... I am now using a couple pieces of rope and a caribeener), got an everything bagel with cream cheese (ah... yeah!), did some email, bought season football tickets, and resupplied before heading out on the trail again. I was kind of lost resupplying at the Co-op and I am afraid I didn't plan well. In the end, I pretty much just grabbed some stuff and took off. I was on the trail before noon and headed up to Moose Mountain.

Today's hike was actually pretty easy. Maybe even the easiest 10 miles of the trip so far. The climb was gradual and the weather was cool. I have started to run into a lot of other NOBO-ers and it is fun to see the culture that develops as people catch up on each others stories and hear how friends in front or behind are doing. I can see how a lot of solid friendships are formed on the trail. So far I haven't stayed in the same shelter with the same people for 2 days but I can still see how it would happen. There is a pretty big group in the shelter tonight. There is one SOBO named Joel and three NOBO who seem to know each other really well. There is also a guy named Ben who is trying to section hike NH but he seemed to be in really rough shape on the hike up. I hope he does well.

Anyway, all in all, a pretty straightforward, uneventful day. It is just fun to be back out and as much as I liked being in a motel, I like better being out here in the woods with some company.

An example of trail magic. This one had bottles of ice cold water as well as Little Debbie snack cakes.

I am thinking of Anne a lot today because of how sick the bots have been. She is very supportive and totally cool for letting me go but when things like this happen, I feel bad that she is dealing with so much on her own.

Trail Names - Clothesline (from Cincinati, OH, UofTenn), Blazing Socks, Joel (not a trail name... he also did the PCT in '06), Cranky Pete

Vocab - "bounce" - sending some of your gear forward to another town to pick it up later, "flip-flop" - change from NOBO to SOBO or vice versa. This is usually done to avoid weather at the other end late/early in the season, "friendly" - pretty straightforward. It is a home, business, or individual who are friendly and otherwise help out hikers.

Mileage - 11 miles on the AT

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hanover, NH

Man, did it rain last night! The tin roof made for a very loud exciting evening! After such a long day yesterday, I decided I would sleep in this evening and sleep in I did..... I don't think I got out of my bag until 8:30 or so but when I did I hit the trail. The late start meant I wouldn't have much time in Hanover so I took off.

Of course, when I hit W. Hartford, I just had to stop at the Village Store and eat a large Pomfret and 2 powerades too! I was hoping to enjoy the lawn and chairs a little longer when rain reared it's ugly head again. So far I have dodged most of it but it looked like it would get me this time. Rather than sit on their porch in the rain, I threw on my gear and headed out which turned out to be a mistake because about 15 minutes later while hiking uphill (towards the interstate) I threw-up a mouthful of my lunch (sorry for the gorey detail without warning). Nothing serious. I just didn't give my food time to settle. No matter, I was still glad to have stopped and enjoyed the town food!

After hiking uphill a bunch, I finally reached the Happy Hill Shelter (which was actually pretty cool... as a side note, this is the place Sy asked me to bring him camping while looking over my shoulder during my trip planning). It was a stone shelter, was in better shape than most, and even had a lantern and bow saw available for visitors to use. I stopped for a drink when a man and his dog came bounding out of the woods. He had been out looking for mushrooms. He showed them off (orange and black varieties) and then bounded off again. Kind of eccentric but it is cool to mee the locals and get to chat with all these people who are so friendly with the hikers.

Eventually I came out on Elm Street in Norwhich which had two positives and one negative. + Beautiful homes! Holy crap. The street looked like a walk through a history book..... beautiful. + Watermelon trail magic! - Walking on asphalt....crap. The hike down Elm Street was steep and the surface, of course, was very hard on the feet and it continued even further (another mile or so) in Hanover.

Connecticut River, which is also the VT/NH border

The bridge crossing from Norwich, VT to Hanover NH.

Once I got into Hanover, I stopped by the DOC (Dartmouth Outing Club) but didn't find them to be much help so I called the Sunset Motor Inn. A really nice old guy answered the phone and offered to pick me up at the CVS since the bus wasn't running. He also offered to let me use the motel's laundry machines since they didn't have a coin-op option. That was pretty nice of him. It turns out he has some BYU connections. I think one of his daughters graduated from the Y.

I was just glad to have an evening if warm food (a calzone, ceasar salad, and a Dr. Pepper) and talk with Anne and the boys. It was nice to get all of my gear clean and dry too... not to mention me (the shower was great!) Tomorrow I will do a few chores and resupply before hitting the trail again.

Trail Names - Peanut, Wrongway

Mileage - 4.8 to W Hartford, 9.3 to Norwich, .2 blue blaze at Happy Hill Shelter, .5 in Hanover

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thistle Hill Shelter

21 miles baby! (I will figure out actual mileage later... I am beat!) Last night it poured pretty hard while we slept but the sound was relaxing. I felt bad for all of the tenters (like 5 tents) who were going to have to pack wet gear in the morning. I was awake at 5:20 and on the trail before 6:00. I know that I had a ton of miles to cover so I wasn't 100% confident that I could make it happen.

In the end, it was a pretty strong day. I was able to get into a rhythm on the inclines that really helped me along. One of the cool things about today's hike was that it left the woods and went into fields and clearings near roads and hilltops.

I think in most cases it was old farming land. The result was a bit better views than I usually get to see. The only negatives were the fields were always dense with brush (I kept thinking about Lyme disease) and sometimes were very, very swampy. One cool thing was the lookout just above the hill from VT 12. There is a pretty impressive cabin up there which is open to AT hikers. Some of the wood looked like it was rotting but it was still a sweet spot.

By the time I hit Wintturi Shelter, I was about halfway and feeling pretty beat. I didn't think about how much further I had to go but focused on making it to the On The Edge Farm at VT 12 which was about 4 miles away at that point. Just before 1:00 I rolled in and feasted on a loaf of bread, sharp Cabot cheddar, a fresh tomatoe, a nectarine, a banana, 3 Gatorades... mmmmmm.

I was too full to eat their pie and ice cream but that looked amazing too. The woman working there (Lisa) was very friendly and we chatted a bit while I waited out the rainstorm that graciously waited for me to stop before it hit. Eventually another local stopped for ice cream and we all chatted on the porch for a while. After almost 2 hours, I decided I needed to go. I still had more than 7 miles to go!

The miles were tough but I made it in around 7:30. There are two others here (both NOBO like me) and they had a great fire going (Thank you!).

The water supply here is a little bit of a hike but it is beautiful. It is a waterfall. You just walk right up and at chest level, fill up!

Whike sitting on the porch st On The Edge I got to thinking about how few places have the lifestyle that these people enjoy. Not many. I don't think I could necessarily do it but I respect them nontheless. The local gentleman having ice cream had been in Pomfret his whole life (70 years) less the 4 1/2 years he spend doing sonar on a destroyer in the Navy!

Trail Names - Sofa King (say it slowly.... tee hee), Chowdah (woman from Boston, living in Colorado), Buddy - Chowdah's dog (I feel safe sleeping next to a Golden Lab for some reason!)

Mileage - .4 blue blaze to On The Edge Farm, 9.6 to Wintturi Shelter, .4 blue blaze to Wintturi Shelter, 3.7 to VT 12, 7.8 from VT 12 to Thistle Hill Shelter

Friday, August 1, 2008

Stony Brook Shelter

So before I talk about today, I need to talk about last night. At 11:00pm, I woke up with water pouring/dripping on me from the bunk above. In my half-conscious state, it took me a while to realize what was going on. My bag was wet on the outside (but not on the inside, thankfully) and my pad had a puddle on it. I squished over to the side and pushed my pad the other way until the dripping stopped an hour or so later. It made for an uncomfortable night and I woke up more or less every hour.

That being said, I was up at 6:30 and out at 7:00. The forest was beautiful on top of Pico; old pine trees and clouds with the sun shining through. I made my way down the mountain (being passed by Hammer as I approached route 4). Hammer is probably in his 50's and he started his through hike in Georgia on March 25th.

I was really looking forward to Deers Leap but I could have made a better decision on the approach. I opted to take the trail near Willard Gap/Maine Junction (where the AT and LT split). The problem was that this trail was a steep climb up Deer Mountain, down steeply on the other side, and an even steeper climb up to Deer Leap Overlook... and then back the same way, of course. That added a lot of unnecessary elevation gain and mileage since there was an easier trail a little further north on the AT. All that being said, the view from the overlook was beautiful as usual.

I also had a great break at Gifford Woods State Park. I enjoyed a couple of sodas from the vending machine, the attendant let me dry my clothes on their clothesline, and I got to talk with Anne and the boys!

I almost didn't want to go but I still had a lot of miles (7) to go including the hike out of Ottoauquechee. The locals had made a pretty cool boardwalk through the marsh surrounding the river.

The hike was tough but I had one of my stronger mental moments during this climb. I was definitely beat but was able to keep the legs moving and pushed it to the end.

I finally made it to the shelter around 6:30 where there was a big crew of southbounders who have got to know each other over the last few weeks. I have been listening to their stories about moonshine, trail magic (one had a couple catch and cook book trout for him, another had a steak in the middle of the 100 mile wilderness) and they had a small fire burning which is always uplifting.

I am nervous about tomorrow because I am beat and tomorrow is my first ever 21 mile day. We will have to see how it goes!

Trail Names - Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Skeeter, Spoonful, T.T (Trail Trooper)

Mileage - 13.5 on the AT, .5 on the Pico Peak Shelter blue blaze, 2.2 on the Deer Leap Trail blue blaze

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pico Peak Shelter

Up at 6:00 and on the trail at 6:30. The hike this morning was pretty uneventful.... just pushing, pushing. Beacon Hill climb (climb out of Clarendon Gorge) was a pain in the butt but I survived and finally made it to Cold River Road and Upper Cold River Road just before noon.

Just after crossing Upper Cold River Road, I ran into some Trail Magic. Someone had left a chair and cooler full of Mountain Dew and Coke! There was even a trail register suggesting this spot was called the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. I had one dew, then another and then hit the trail with some extra skip in my step :)

I stopped 1.5 miles later for a long lunch at the Governor Clement Shelter. This place has a bad reputation because of all the parties that used to go on here. Shrewsbury put up a gate 2 months ago to bring the traffic back and one guy, George Hall, rides up there everyday to check in on the place. It turns out he is married to a Page (Jan). I will have to ask Randy about that when I come out.

Anyway after a long lunch and giving my clothes time to dry out (it was very muggy again today), I hit the trail just as Peanut Butter Jesus and Bird Nest came walking by. We leapfrogged each other a couple of times up to Cooper Lodge and then we hiked to Killington Peak together. It was a very short, very steep climb from the lodge. Oh, I forgot to mention, it pretty much poured rain for the full 4 mile hike up Killington. I made for a very misty summitting but it was beautiful in its own right.

By the time I left the peak it was approximately 6:00 and I needed to get a move on because I still had 3 miles to go to get to Pico Peak. I was wasted by the time I finally got there. I ate my pepperoni stick for dinner (too tired to cook) and was rewarded with some snickers from a sheltermate for sharing my pepperoni, mmmmmmm....... The stream at Pico Peak Shelter is just a trickle so I wasn't able to get water and I just ran out. I am going to need to find water early tomorrow.

Trail Conditions - Muddy doesn't begin to say it. There were puddles and even full on streams in the trail for most of the afternoon. I will be wet for a few days!

Animals - Tons of frogs and toads, a gartner snake, a chipmunk, an orange salamander

Mileage - 16.3 miles on the AT, .5 on the blue blaze to Pico Peak Shelter, .4 on the blue blaze to Killington Peak

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Minerva Hinchey Shelter

I'm back! It was hard leaving the family but once I was on the plane, I started getting pretty pumped for the trail. The air travel was pretty uneventful except for the ride from Boston to Rutland, which I loved. It was a short 50min flight and we never got the Cessna above 6500ft so the views were awesome (when I wasn't sleeping!). There were only 4 other passengers in the little 1o seater. Needless to say, there was no beverage service!

Gina Page (Todd's wife) helped me out by picking me up and dropping me off where I left off last year. Just a couple of minutes before noon, I threw on my pack and took off with 12 miles to cover before it got too dark.

It was fun for me to hike on trails I had been on as a young man. I walked by Little Rock Pond and remembered jumping from the cliffs on the other side with our group of Boy Scouts. I remember more than one trip up to White Rocks (although it seems the route was different). Tonight I am camping 1/2 mile from Spring Lake where I would go with the Pages and Congdons and tomorrow I hike past Upper Cold River Road (Pages live 1.5 miles from the trail) and then up to Killington Peak where I used to ski.

Cliffs on the other side of Little Rock Pond

I love the challenge of being out here. I was good and tired after this first day but thankful to be on the trail. I only ran into one other person during my hike but when I got to the shelter, there were 5 other people there; a couple going to St. Lawrence College and 3 guys (2 from Jersey and 1 from Boston) who are SOBO (Southbound) on the LT (Long Trail). It looks like they are almost done! The couple is NOBO (Northbound), I believe. The whole group ws cool to hang out with and we spend a lot of time just chatting and playing a game where you have to list all the songs you know with fruit either in the title or lyrics. One guy also gave me his leftover potatoes from dinner. Well since I didn't get to camp until after 7:00 and everyone turned in at 8:30 the fun got cut short. I have a few ambitious days ahead of me, especially for the beginning of the trip, so I am going to rest up. Tomorrow is a 17 mile day up to Pico Peak Shelter.

Trail - I heard it rained the last 2 weeks and I believe it. The trail is wet and it is muggy out here!

Broken! - The buckle on my packs waist belt. This meant I carried a lot of the weight on my shoulders instead of my hips today. Tomorrow I am going to see if a little duct tape won't fix the situation.

Trail Names - Peanut Butter Jesus, Bird Nest, Indian Cucumber, Invisible Man, Bird Talker, Hammer, Sparkles

Mileage - 11.7 on the AT, .4 on the White Rocks blue blaze

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hiking Y Mountain

So ... hiking the Y with the family gave me an appetite to climb further so today I took on Y Mountain.

This was a challenging hike (~3500ft) that continued up Slide Canyon above the Y, through Bear Flats meadow and up the backside of Y Mountain. I was surprised by how poorly marked the trail was considering the number of people that live immediately adjacent to these mountains but it was still a very nice hike. I even ran into a nice guy from our Stake who hikes the Y everyday and offered to accompany all the way up the mountain. I appreciated his companionship especially considering the condition of the trail.

Today's hike made me even more hungry to get up in the mountains east of Provo. I will be back up there again soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hiking the Y

Today, the family and I decided to hike to the Y. I guess that means we are officially in Provo now. We started from our home since we have trail access from pretty much our backyard. That proved to be a slight miscalculation since it added another mile and at least a few hundred feet of elevation to the hike. That made for a pretty grumpy Sy a little more than halfway up the slope so he and Anne waited it out while Soren and I finished the climb.

Even though Sy didn't make it all the way up, I was very proud of him. In the end, that was easily the furthest hike (~4miles) he has ever been on and he did really well considering the circumstances. Soren also did well but then again, he had it a little bit easier!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Humphrey Peak (Arizona Highpoint)

Another great hike. I was glad I started early because this hike had a ton of people on the trail. On the way up I really only saw about a half dozen people including a couple of trail runners who looked like they were running the whole way up.

The way down was a whole other story. I passed at least 100 people on the way down and when I got to the parking lot it was packed!

I also didn't stick around because I wanted to make it to Provo before the end of the day. Anne, Sy and Sore. Here I come!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wheeler Peak (New Mexico Highpoint)

I really enjoyed this hike. It had a lot of the ingredients that make a day hike a great one. Including, beautiful views...

... a fair amount of critters...

...and challenging trails (yes, that is snow and it is also the trail... and yes, I did loose the trail more than once).

I even got a bonus 13k summit about 1/4 mile from the summit of Wheeler Peak because the trail takes you over Walter Peak. The only negative was the headache I started to get around 11000ft. I think I was starting to get some altitude sickness. Luckily, it didn't get too bad and I was down in the early afternoon and on the road to AZ.

Here is a 360 view from the summit of Wheeler Peak.