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 145:  WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
 
Start: Kokadjo/B-Pond logging road                      
End:  Jo-Mary logging road
Today's Miles:                        6.9
Cumulative Miles:          2,118.9
Miles to go:                         56.0
   
 
" . . . We wish you well as you're coming down the home stretch to the
finish line, but we'll miss you when you're done!"
- ultra running couple from Michigan
 


Cody is much better at balancing on slick, narrow bog boards like these than I am!

View from the log and wood "bridging" at the outlet of Crawford Pond.    9-21-05

Thank you, Susan and Dave! Others have expressed the same sentiments. After we get home and settled in, I'll be writing several "post" entries, so check back periodically on the topics page for those. I'll also give you the websites of other thru-hikers so you can read their accounts, too.

Wouldn't want anyone to get withdrawal symptoms! (I'll be reading those other accounts, too. I haven't had time to do it while I've been on the Trail.)

We're down to (hopefully) just four more sections now. I'm ambivalent because I've loved most days on the Trail and I'll have to adjust to "life after the AT." But both of us are so tired we're ready to go home. We haven't been there in almost three months!

Jim found the perfect campsite yesterday at the Jo-Mary Campground in the Katahdin Ironworks/Jo-Mary Multi-use Management Forest that I wrote about recently. We are camped fifteen feet from the shore of Upper Jo-Mary Lake and could hear loons calling to each other this morning. We haven't seen any moose here yet, just along the roads.

This is our view across the lake:

That's the massive ridge of Katahdin, looking at it from the south!!!!

It was so foggy yesterday that neither of us could see it. This morning I looked outside (we got up later and it was already light) and there it was.

Very exciting for both of us, very inspiring. The end of the journey is at hand.

ADAPTING AGAIN

Yesterday when I finished Jim told me we had a problem with today's rendezvous point. The logging road he was planning to use to pick me up at the south end of Nahmankata Lake is gated. So we spent a couple hours consulting all of our maps and written information about access points in the Hundred-Mile Wilderness and revised the mileages for three days.

The result was a short seven-mile section today. That was fine with me, because I was so tired from pushing myself hard the last two days - and the stress from Saturday's efforts through flooded rivers and creeks. My knees and shoulders were so sore last night that I had difficulty sleeping again.

I'm not thirty-five any more! (Jim and I frequently tease each other about that.)

High winds during the night didn't help. Even with ear plugs in I could hear (and feel) the awning flapping in the wind and I was concerned it might fly off or damage the camper. I prevailed upon Jim to go out and roll it up about 2:30 AM. At least it wasn't raining! Guess that's the downside of camping right next to a large lake.

The weather today was gorgeous - windy, but mostly sunny and in the 60s during the day on the Trail.

This section was fairly flat with a net downhill elevation change from about 1,200 feet to 700 feet. Five of the seven miles were on an 1800s tote road that is just a wide trail now. Except for periodic wet areas with slick bog boards, it was mostly runnable. That was nice!

This section is in the pretty pine-and-birch eco zone. In dry spots, running over soft pine needles, it looked almost like trails in the redwoods in northern California. The Trail went by two bright blue ponds (lakes to those of us in the other forty-nine states) and followed close to the raucous Cooper Brook most of the way.

Despite being in the multi-use logging/recreation area, the AT is situated such that I rarely hear any lumbering activity, nor have I seen any from higher elevations. Jim sees the logging trucks as he drives to and from trail heads, however. The information we received at the gates where we pay our entry fees makes it clear the logging trucks have the right of way at all times, just as would a fire truck or ambulance.

Recreation is encouraged but definitely secondary in this area.

TRAIL FOLKS

I stopped by the Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to halfway through the section to read the register and see who had signed it. This shelter is in a very beautiful setting right next to a large waterfall. Many of the shelters on the AT are close to streams that are not only convenient water sources but also a great source of "white noise" to lull hikers to sleep.

"Godspeed" and "Aslan" were right ahead of me but I didn't catch them. Jim spoke to them at the road; they left only about ten minutes before I got there. I wrote about this father-son team several weeks ago. Aslan nearly died several years ago during his first thru-hike attempt. Brain surgery saved his life and he's back with his dad to finish the Trail this year. I'm so happy that they're gonna make it!

"LB," "To-Phat," "Sundance," and "Butch Cassidy" spent the night at the shelter. I probably won't catch them before Katahdin. "EM" was there on the 18th. He'll be summitting in a day or two at that rate.

When Jim dropped Cody and me off at the start today at 9:30 AM we found "49er" sitting on a log eating a snack. Jim hadn't met him before. We talked a bit then and later on the Trail as we played leap-frog when he took another break and I spent a few minutes at the shelter.

49er got his name because he resembles an 1849-era gold rush miner (see photo below). He hails from Houston and was interested in Cody because he also has a Lab.

As I was leaving the shelter, "Tumblefoot" came in. She's the woman crewing for "Kokomo" and "Bigfoot" in Maine. She met them on the Trail several months ago and later got the idea to see if they wanted to slack the last two or three weeks in Maine. Tumblefoot has been hiking the Trail for several years and decided this was the way she wanted to "give back."

Bigfoot had by then paired up with "Santa," and I think Kokomo was hiking alone. Kokomo and Bigfoot took Tumblefoot up on her offer to crew them in her small RV. (Santa decided after a short time that he'd prefer to do traditional backpacking.)

Crewing has been more difficult for Tumblefoot than she expected. The stress is primarily finding suitable logging roads where she can drive the RV in Maine. The advantage their group has over us is being in a small enough vehicle to park near many trail heads in the AT parking lots, like the one on Jo-Mary Road where Jim got me today. Our rig is too big and we end up camping a lot farther away from most trail heads.

Jim again played "Trail Angel," asking hikers if they needed anything as they crossed the road and leaving soft drinks and snacks in a bucket that he'll retrieve when he takes me back out there in the morning.

Hikers really appreciate trail magic in the Hundred-Mile Wilderness since there are no re-supply points until they get to Abol Bridge on the outskirts of Baxter State Park, where Katahdin is located.

APPROACHING KATAHDIN

Since I got done so fast this morning we decided to take a (long) ride this afternoon to the town of Millinocket to get our e-mail at the library and check out Baxter SP and nearby campgrounds. We found a very convenient campground right at Abol Bridge that will probably work this weekend.

At the campground store we got to meet three thru-hikers neither of us has seen before: "Sam I Am," a young female, and her two male companions, "Origami" and "Proteus." They plan to summit Friday. Rain is predicted in the morning but they say they'll go up anyway as long as the park personnel allow them to go. If the weather is too dangerous or someone wants to go up too late in the day, rangers won't let hikers proceed on the AT.

There is so much interesting information about Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park that I will write a separate entry about them.

For now, Jim and I are fascinated with the massive mountain. Our views have been from the south and east. We can easily see the shape of the route we'll be taking soon. The first part is the most difficult, with the most elevation gain and worst footing. The part above tree-line (from 3,000 to 5,267 feet) is more gradual.

We're hoping for clear weather so we'll see the advertised great views from this, the highest point in Maine.

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

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil