I can relate to the conversation above. I'm curious after I've summitted
Katahdin if I'll need months of rest from running or if I'll be itching to get
out on the trails near home again.
Time will tell. Right now I'm enjoying being out there every day.
Well, most days. After
logging 149 miles in the last seven days, I decided it would be a good idea to
take today off. My knees were both sore yesterday morning. By afternoon I guess
the endorphins had kicked in because they weren't sore. But they hurt last night
in bed - a good indication they need at least one day's rest.
We moved this morning to a nice campground in SW Mass. When the Trail goes in
a mostly linear direction (as opposed to winding all around) we have to move
the camper every day or two. It takes Jim an hour or more to prepare to move,
then the time to drive to the new location, and another hour to get all set up
again. Yesterday he figured out a way to make the move more interesting - he
watched a movie on cable TV and got ready to go during the commercials!
Besides just being off my feet as much as possible today, my main task has
been to determine the next week's trail sections and find campgrounds as near as
possible to the points where I'll be starting and stopping. This is usually
pretty time-consuming because I have to consider where there is decent road
access, the topography of the section, and other factors.
We had to laugh at a letter we got a day or two ago. An ultra runner who has
hiked the Trail and is following along in the journal wrote, "I've been
wondering what you and Jim are going to do in Maine? It's a long way between
roads, with true wilderness in between. I'm sure you two have a plan figured
What we thought humorous was the part about a plan. Most of this trek
has been "planned" by the seat of our pants. Remember my Rule #3 for this
"Be flexible and adaptable."
Never at any time have I tried to come up with a long-term plan, other than
determining that if I averaged 18 miles a day, including rest days, I'd finish
in about 121 days - near the end of August. The longest I plan out is for a week
to ten days.
Why? Because stuff happens.
I've had to cut my run short only three times so far (for falling or running out of
water), but sometimes the short-term plan changes because of an injury, a nasty
storm, changing my mind a dozen times about whether to run VT100, needing a
break, family emergency when Jim's sister about died, etc.
I felt bad about this until I read in Horton's book about his 1991 speed
record on the AT that his plan fell apart at some point fairly early into his
epic run. He originally had every day planned, but life on the Trail just isn't
that simple. I know both he and Andrew Thompson had to make new plans on the fly
during this summer's record runs on the PCT and AT, respectively. (David is due
to finish in a day or two and will have made a significant improvement on the
PCT record; Andrew recently improved on the tougher AT record by a day.)
Yes, I know there may be a problem in Maine. I know I need to contact the AT
club for that area and learn the drill. I've heard there are adequate logging
roads for access every 20-30 miles, but we may need to contact the logging
companies for permission to use the roads. They also may be gated at certain
hours. We just haven't researched this in any detail yet. I might discover I have to do a couple of
very long days there.
If anyone has specific information regarding road access in The Hundred-Mile
Wilderness in Maine, please let us know. Thanks!
CONNECTICUT IS COOL
I really liked running on the Trail in Connecticut. One reason is that I
could actually run more there than any of the last three states. Most of
the Trail was in excellent condition, with fewer overgrown areas than in other
states this summer (of course, that wasn't a problem earlier in the spring,
farther south, before growth became rampant). The Appalachian Mountain Club had
some of the road crossings marked (I wish every road was marked so I could be sure where
I am!) and had classy sage-colored signs at significant points, like viewpoints
(most clubs don't do that), intersecting trails, shelters, and water.
We loved the surrounding countryside and quaint little villages, too. The
area around Kent is popular with celebrities, so housing and land costs are
probably out of sight there. Driving to and from trailheads we seldom saw any
trashy-looking properties in western CT. It appears to be a great place to
vacation or live if you can afford it.
One night we had fun with town names. I think some other New England states
do this, too - naming close villages nearly the same name: Woodstock,
S.Woodstock, W.Woodstock, Woodstock Valley (sounds like Vermont!); or Windsor,
S. Windsor, E. Windsor, Windsor Locks, Windsorville, and E. Windsor Hill. The
only other place outside of New England that I've seen this is the Amana Colony
area in Iowa.
Jim, who retired from the US Postal Service, thinks the close names probably
drive the Post Office nuts!
CONNECTICUT AND MASSACHUSETTS ROCK, TOO
Jim had a funny comment recently when I pointed out all the stacked stone
walls near our campgrounds in CT. I'd already mentioned several times about the
numerous old rock walls along the AT since New York:
"With all these stone fences around here, I can't imagine there are any
rocks left on the AT."
We are happy to be in New England. It signifies the beginning of the end. I
can almost "smell the barn" now. (I thought everyone had heard that comment, but
when I mentioned it to a nice CT section-hiker a couple days ago, he had no clue
what I meant until I explained it to him. It means, I can "see the light at the
end of the tunnel now." Got it?)
I also know there are many wonders to be found along the Trail up here. Every
day brings surprises, most of them pleasant. We're hoping the weather gets a bit
cooler as we go north and into the fall season. I've been seeing whole tree
branches covered in red or orange leaves since PA, while the rest of the tree is
green. The branch below is one I saw two days ago in CT. I'm not sure what's
going on, but it reminds me that autumn is coming soon.
And so is the end of this particular journey. Less than one-third of the