I didn't exactly experience failure today, but it wasn't triumph, either. I
guess I'm just a bad-weather weenie.
It was deja vu all over again. At 4:45 AM we were awakened by rain, with
lightning and thunder this time. I had a tough 27.7-mile run scheduled over
four "foothill" mountains preceding the notorious Whites.
I just couldn't face being out there for possibly thirteen hours or
more on slippery rocks and roots and mud. The description in the AT guide and
previous hikers' journals sounded like I might have some tough rock climbs and
descents and I just didn't think it was safe.
But I was willing to try one-half the distance, and I could modify the next
two days' sections to still complete the same amount of mileage as originally
So we shut off the alarm and went back to sleep for almost three more hours.
Although it was still raining when we got up, by the time I hit the trail at 10
AM - with Cody!! - the sun was out.
Can you say steam bath??
Forests are always so mysterious when they are foggy. I took the top photo of
Cody in the mist soon after starting my run. Although the rocks and roots were
still wet in the woods, the long meadow through which we ran in the second mile
was dry. It was overgrown but I didn't get the carwash effect like I did
yesterday. About 1 PM there was a brief shower, then the sun came out again.
GOIN' TO THE DOGS
When Jim let me out at Etna Road we saw several young male trail runners
heading south. I saw one more fella and three young women soon after. I think
they were probably Dartmouth students out for a Sunday morning training run.
Other than "Pizza the Hut" back in Tennessee, I had not seen anyone running
on the AT until yesterday (besides Jim and me, of course). There were several men and women in a group that I
met going southbound in one of the high meadows before Norwich. Then there were
these seven students today. I've been surprised that there haven't been more
trail runners along the way, especially in the South where the Trail is more
When I started this trek, I intended to have Cody with me about two-thirds of
the time, if he was enjoying it. But I stopped in June when it became hotter and
water became more and more scarce. He needs a lot of water. Jim's been
taking him on shorter trail runs, so he hasn't totally lost his conditioning,
but he isn't trained for an all-day run right now.
Since I decided to do only a six-hour run today, Jim suggested I take Cody
with me. I'm glad I did because he's so much fun on the Trail. He had several creeks to play in, and the pond below in
a swampy area (it's hazy because of a brief shower when I took the photo). He
was a happy puppy when he was able to swim!
Cody carried two liters of water, which he needed between creeks. He seemed
to have a good time but was pretty tired tonight. He even got to socialize with
two yellow Labs, one going down the north peak of Moose Mountain and one at the
parking lot at the end of the run.
I really liked this section because of the beautiful woods and meadows, the
views from the south peak of Moose Mountain and Holt's Ledge, and the
mostly-runnable surfaces. There were the inevitable roots and rocks (the large,
smooth slabs are the most treacherous when wet), but the rocks are so doggone
pretty that it's hard to grouse about them! They are the same marble and
quartzite rocks I admired in Vermont, streaked with all sorts of lovely colors
or partly covered in velvety green moss.
You see, I really have come to peace with (most of) the rocks!
There were two major climbs today: about 1,500 feet to the south peak
of Moose Mountain over four miles (mostly gradual, some moderate) and
approximately 1,250 feet to the top of Holt's Ledge in one mile - that one was
obviously steeper. Both descents were fairly quick (only a mile) but very
runnable with few large steps down that hurt the knees.
I'll have increasingly difficult climbs and descents as I continue through
New Hampshire. This ain't nuthin' yet, the SOBOs tell me.
I found a nice rock outcrop on the north peak of Moose Mountain to sit and
have a snack. Looking north, I think I spotted Mt. Moosilauke, which will give
me fits in two days with its steep ascent and descent. I'm thinking of doing it
south-bound to save my knees, but both directions sound really steep.
There are also nice views from Holt's Ledge. The drop-off to the trees in the
valley below is abrupt. One step too far and you've got a long way down. I kept
Cody back from that one. We did a little bonus mileage just beyond the ledge
when I missed a turn in the AT. We ended up at a ski lift but got to see a
protected area on the cliff where peregrine falcons nest.
This was a good day to meet thru-hikers. I'm catching back up to some of the
folks I saw in the mid-Atlantic states now.
I went back to the first shelter, The Spruce Moose, but found no register. I
wanted to see who was ahead of me, and where. I by-passed the Trapper John
shelter later because it was too far off the Trail. I haven't signed a register
for a while now.
The first NOBO thru-hiker I talked to was "Clearwater," who comes from
Massachusetts. He was getting water in the first creek we came to, thankfully
upstream from the place Cody jumped in! (I saw him and made sure Cody didn't
dirty his water.) Clearwater started in Georgia in March; neither of us
remembers seeing the other previously.
A little while later I met "Canute" from upstate New York. He's south-bound,
so I asked him questions about the Whites and answered his questions about
I hit thru-hiker pay-dirt at the parking lot where I finished. Soon after I
got there SIX north-bounders came through in quick succession. I've only met
one of them, Gypsy Lulu, below. We shared about an hour on the Trail several
weeks ago and I posted her photo then (I can picture the trail and the rocks,
but can't even remember which state!).
"Lulu" is such a delightful young lady. She and her younger
sister, "Touk," pictured above with "Cuppa Joe," live in Michigan. Lulu is
another hiker who came down with Lyme disease and is still on antibiotics, but
as you can see from her photo, she looks recovered now.
"Touk" is a Canadian word for "hat," says the young lady who
uses that as her trail name. While giving some Canadian students ski
lessons last year, she wore a funny hat and gained the nickname.
I also met "Linux," "Mouth" (another young man in a kilt), and "Tink,"
a young woman. All six hikers were headed nine more miles to the next shelter on
Mt. Cube. I think they probably ended up hiking some in the dark, not uncommon
for thru-hikers on a mission.
I received sad news from "Yahchild's" mother, who has been
e-mailing us periodically. I met Yahchild in New York. He recovered from Lyme
disease but has had knee and other problems recently that caused him to return
home for a while to recover. I hope he is able to finish the Trail this year or
You do know what that stands for, don't you?
I screwed up. When I changed my plans this morning, I hurriedly
marked the AT map/elevation profile incorrectly for my pick-up point. I'm just
surprised it took almost four months for us to end up at two different spots at
Turns out the AT crosses Lyme-Dorchester Road twice and
neither Jim nor I realized that. From the 2005 data book, where I get my mileage
figures for shelters, roads, and intersecting trails (the only trail information
I carry with me each day), the paved road where Jim waited (and waited and
waited) for me was "The Dartmouth Skiway." The road where I wanted to go was two
miles farther. So that's where I went.
Unfortunately, the spot I marked on the map was the intersection
of Lyme Road, Lyme-Dorchester Road, and The Dartmouth Skiway. There was no sign
there nor on the AT to let hikers know what road it was. I had a funny feeling
when I crossed that road that there might be a problem later, since the dirt
road leading to the parking lot where I ended up was not marked. How would Jim
know to go there?
I tried to call him but there was no signal. In hindsight, I
should have left a note by the AT sign on the trail on either side of the road,
in case he was waiting there and wondered where I was.
When he was an hour late, I started writing notes. I left two on
the AT signs where I was, telling him I was walking down to the paved road two
miles away. I was also going to send one down with a vehicle going that way, in
case they saw the truck.
Cody and I hit the dirt road, but within 200 yards a pick-up
came by. I flagged it down and explained my predicament to the couple inside.
Would they mind taking this note to the paved road and seeing if Jim was there?
Tom and Gail, local residents, went one better - they suggested we hop in the
back and ride down to the road.
Ahh, now I feel like a real thru-hiker! I've ridden in the back
of a pick-up truck!! It was Cody's and my first time in the back of a pick-up
and we both enjoyed the slow, breezy ride.
My hunch was correct - Jim was there and was very worried about
me. He was about to go backwards on the trail with a flashlight to find me. It
wasn't dark yet but it was almost 6 PM by then (rendezvous time was 4:30). I'm
so glad I got that ride so he didn't waste even more time hunting for me on the
<sigh> Gotta work on this one further to make sure it never
happens again. It was scary and frustrating for both of us.