APPALACHIAN TRAIL ADVENTURE RUN

   
       
Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run

 

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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
 
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DAY 113:  SATURDAY, AUGUST 20
 
Start: Pomfret-S. Pomfret Rd., VT                        
End:  Etna-Hanover Center Rd., NH
Today's Miles:                      24.6
Cumulative Miles:          1,738.9
Miles to go:                       436.0
   
 
"Good job, Sue ... so are you stopping in Katahdin or
continuing along onto the other half of the trail (the IAT)?"
- note from a Canadian ultra running friend
 


Heather in high, foggy meadow in Vermont    8-20--05

Hiker's view of rowers on the Connecticut River, the state line between Vermont and New Hampshire

HA!

I quickly wrote back to Roy and said I'd be stopping at Katahdin. That's enough for me!

I didn't even realize the international version existed for hundreds more miles, and, if completed as planned, would more than double the length of the Trail from Georgia to Maine.

Roy would like to do the entire AT/IAT someday. I hope he can; that would make for quite an adventure! He sent me this web link (which I haven't had time to check yet) for those of you who think 2,175 miles aren't enough: www.internationalat.org.

DROWNED RAT

Today's 24+ mile section was a study in contrasts: some of the nicest, smoothest trail I've seen on the AT in the morning, then some of the rockiest, rootiest (is that a word??) in the afternoon. Wilderness solitude and noisy freeways. Rustic trail shelters and classic New England architecture in two upscale towns. Wedding guests out of Vogue magazine and a hiker who looked like a drowned rat.

Um, the "drowned rat" would be me!

That's because it rained most of the day. When it wasn't raining, the trees were dripping so much it was hard to tell if it was raining again. When I'd get somewhat dry, I'd have to go through another high meadow with water-heavy flowers and other foliage hanging into the Trail, making running through the gauntlet feel like going through a carwash with those flaps that slap your car clean - whop, whop, whop!

Not that I'm complaining. I've pretty much lucked out weather-wise on this adventure run. There really hasn't been much rain on my parade so far. The hikers who started at Springer in March and April had a very wet spring, but most of the rain was gone where I was running when I started April 30.

Jim and I were awakened by the rain at 4:45 AM, more than half an hour before we planned to get up. Once I'm awake and know it's about time to get up, it's hard to return to sleep. At least I wasn't worried this time about the Trail being wet (like last week). I hadn't read anything in the AT guide that made me think it'd be dangerous today, like precarious rock outcrops above steep drop-offs.

No, today's course was more tame.

Still, it's a bit tough getting out of a nice, warm bed on a rainy day. But I did get up and managed to remain enthusiastic all day on this varied, never-boring section. It was warmer this morning (60s) and I stayed comfortable all day in just my singlet, sports bra, and running shorts as I chugged up each mountain and ran down the other side.

There was considerable elevation gain and loss again today, despite not getting any higher than 1,900 feet - about 4,600 feet up and 4,700 feet down. The lowest points were the White River in West Hartford, VT and the Connecticut River between Norwich, VT and Hanover, NH.

RUNNING HEAVEN

I was in running heaven this morning for the first nine miles with all the nice trails between Pomfret Road and Vermont 14/White River. The climbs were too steep for me to run but I ran most of the ridges and downhills (carefully, as everything was very slick).

The next eight miles to Norwich were a little less runnable but still good by AT standards. Some places were badly overgrown in the woods with little maple trees gone berserk; otherwise the trail was well-maintained.

On the outskirts of Norwich I popped out of the woods onto a long paved downhill, the beginning of about three miles of pavement. I passed beautiful traditional New England homes with nicely landscaped yards, then had to run along a busy road that passed under I-91 (I'd already gone under I-89 in W. Hanover) and dropped down to the Connecticut River.

IVY LEAGUE

I enjoyed watching several Dartmouth students rowing toward and under the bridge as I crossed into New Hampshire, my thirteenth state! Only two more to go . . .

I felt more comfortable walking through Hanover and the Dartmouth College campus than I thought I would. This is one upscale town, but one that hikers seem to enjoy because of the college-town atmosphere. I was surprised in August to see so many students milling around the campus green and the businesses on the streets where I walked (too many people to run, and too much to see).

Dartmouth, an Ivy-League school, offers many cultural events for hikers and residents to enjoy, so I imagine a lot of thru-hikers stay here for a day or more to enjoy those opportunities.

Across the street from the green, right next to a white AT blaze, a wedding had just ended. Six bridesmaids in long pale gray satin gowns stood outside the hotel with six tuxedoed groomsmen and guests. A limousine hovered, waiting for the newlyweds.

I watched a bit from the green, then followed my white blazes right past the ritzy wedding party and guests, feeling a bit out of place but holding my head high. Students enthusiastically returned my smiles and hellos, while most older folks just looked the other way. I wasn't dirty (with all the rain) but I was still drenched and looked like a nomad.

I was pretty amused by it all, yet mighty glad to get back into the woods on the east side of Hanover.

My joy soon faded, however. I faced one of the gnarliest climbs on the Trail so far, a rocky, rooty, use-your-hands climb up an unnamed "hill." I had already called Jim to say I'd be early at our rendezvous point, assuming naively that I'd have more runnable trail after Hanover.

At the top of the mountain I tried calling Jim again. When he answered, there was a strange echo, like he was nearby on the Trail. Then I burst out laughing as I saw him with Cody around the corner, not more than fifty feet away from me, pretending to be at the camper! He'd run over three miles from the end to meet me, which was such a nice surprise. The last three miles were not as good as the first seventeen, but much better than that climb he missed.

VELVET ROCKS

We passed by an area called "Velvet Rocks," house-sized boulders covered in soft green moss. Very pretty, and we didn't have to climb over them!

There were lots of blackberries in the meadows today, pretty purple heather (first I've seen), wild turkeys and chattering squirrels, and interesting fungi like these:

Today I got to meet "EM," who Jim met back at Gifford Woods when he put out the goodies for thru-hikers. EM was doing a south-bound slack today, back to Hanover, with just a fanny pack. I saw several  other NOBO and SOBO hikers but didn't stop in the rain to talk with them. I didn't recognize any of them. EM said I was the 24th thru-hiker he'd seen so far today. It's fun to go "backwards" occasionally so you can see more hikers.

So, here I am in New Hampshire. I have a long day tomorrow, over 27 miles, with climbs up the north and south peaks of Moose Mountain, Smarts Mountain, and Mt. Cube. Ready or not, here come the Whites!

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil