Thank you, Mom and Dad, for giving me my long arms and legs. I sure needed
them today! There were some long steps up and down.
I've had to use my arms a lot lately to pull myself up these walls and ease
myself down. With long legs, I can get up and down some boulders and rock slabs
that would be even more difficult for shorter folks.
Sometimes my arms and legs aren't long enough, however, and I have to
butt-sliding down rock slabs and using all fours to get up some rock walls. I've
also found that going down backwards sometimes helps reduce the strain on my
I got to use lots of techniques in this section today. I just do what I have
to do to get the job done from Point A to Point B.
I skipped ahead two sections today to do the "easiest" of three parts of the
AT that I need to run/hike before we leave the Gorham area.
It has been raining here for three days. I needed Monday off to rest.
Yesterday the rain wasn't as bad as predicted, at least in the valley where we
are camped. I was kicking myself all afternoon for not being out on the Trail.
It rained a lot during the night. Today we started getting rain from the
remnants of Hurricane Katrina. Thunderstorms and high winds were possible today
but didn't materialize in the lower mountains where I ran or in the valley at
After my rather traumatic experience with bad weather in high places on
Sunday I chose this nearby section to run/hike today because of the lower
elevations of the mountains I'd be crossing. The high point was only about 2,800
feet, well below tree line. I figured the creeks shouldn't be too full to cross,
there wouldn't be any exposed rock summits, and the trees would reduce the
effects of any high winds.
Of course, I could have been hit by flying limbs! There were quite a few on
the trail today, probably the result of wind during the night.
But nothing bad happened. It rained lightly about half the time I was on the
Trail, the wind wasn't bad, even on top of the four mountains I crossed (which
turned out to be fairly exposed after all), there was no lightning, and the biggest creek
was only knee deep but OK to cross.
The rain did slow my already-slow progress, however. There were a few places
I could run, but most of it was too rugged to even walk fast. There were plenty
of rock walls to climb up and down, slick boulders and roots, and many puddles.
There were also bog boards that were submerged and ones that moved!
Both were firsts, and a big surprise when I encountered them.
My feet were wet all day. Good thing that's not a problem for me. I don't get
blisters that way, and I am rotating three pairs of shoes so I'll have dry ones
to wear tomorrow. What's left of my worn-out orthotics will still be wet,
I'm sorry I don't have any photos of this section. I took about ten but the
memory card in my digital camera must have gotten damp. We weren't able to
download the photos. The ones above are from a few days ago, also in New
IN A FOG
The twelve miles I did today are part of a 31-mile section of the Mahoosuc
Range that takes hikers three to five days to complete. It runs from US 2 near
Gorham, NH to Grafton Notch (Route 26) in Maine. It is wild and rugged, probably
the single worst 31 miles on the AT. I've been warned repeatedly about the
difficulty of this section, particularly Mahoosuc Notch, a 1.1-mile section that
could take me up to three hours to negotiate.
There are no huts this far north, only shelters. Since I don't have a tent or
sleeping bag, I had to find a way to do this section in two parts. Good thing,
too, because today's section alone took me over six hours in the wet conditions.
Fortunately, there are several side trails leading down to roads on either
side of the ridge. The best option we found, with a lot of legwork (literally)
by Jim, was the one we used today: run and hike the first 11.8 miles from
Route 2 to the Gentian Pond shelter, then take a 1.4-mile side trail (Austin
Brook) down to Millbrook Road.
So I did a total of 13.2 miles today, but only 11.8 go in the AT figures
above. I'll also have to do this trail back up to the shelter on
Saturday, when I complete this section and enter Maine.
Because of the rain and fog there weren't very many views today. I passed
four lakes and ponds in the last four miles. I could see two of them. The other
two were totally obscured by the fog. I knew I was at Moss Pond because of the
sign - and the water's edge was right next to the Trail. I never did see
Dream Lake, which was also supposed to be right next to the Trail.
Did I mention it was foggy today??
I went by several great places to see moose - but didn't see any of those,
Yesterday Jim saw his first AT moose. (We've both seen them while running in
the Beartooth Mountains when we lived in Montana.) He was doing a training run
with Cody and checking out the Austin Brook Trail to make sure it went all the
way up to the AT. Cody flushed out a sleeping bull moose about twenty feet off
the Trail but didn't follow it into the woods. Jim heard another moose a few minutes later but didn't see it.
I saw no hikers going my direction. I met five going south, including "Boo
Boo" (male) and "Stinkerbell" (his female companion). Jim and Cody met me at the
shelter, where we talked to an AMC caretaker, "Shatter," and two thru-hikers - a
woman about my age called "Painfully Slow" (I can identify with that!) who is
hiking south, and a young man going north whose name was so long neither Jim nor
I can remember it.
The Katrina-induced thunderstorms are supposed to be through this area by
tomorrow morning, so my plan is to do the tough 21.1-mile section from Pinkham
Notch to US 2/Gorham, going north. It includes difficult rock climbing up the
five peaks of Wildcat Mountain and Carter Notch.
The AT guide recommends hikers take three days to traverse this section. I
have to do it in one day.
Can I do it? And what happens if I can't??
Check back in a day or two to find out!