Just walked into Gorham, NH a few hours ago and am staying the night at the White Mountains Lodge & Hostel. Just got a ride into town to resupply at Wal-Mart and will enjoy my chocolate milk and dinner here.
Well its been an eventful couple of days, I finally got to see Eric. I just happened to stop to take a break right at this creek crossing, I just took off my shoes and I hear this "Hey!!", sure enough, here he comes. He gifted me with a little over an hour of his time and I am very thankful for it. That same day I had a couple of bad things happen though, I lost my spoon and I broke one of my trekking poles!! So it was a good and bad day.
I'm definitely noticing that when I get a chance to sit down at a computer, my mind starts racing and its hard to gather my thoughts, but get me out on the trail and I can tell you very clearly what i'm thinking. "Just keep walking, just keep walking..."
Anyway, its great to be done with Maine, I loved it, especially the last day, it was amazing, I also loved the infamous "notch" so much fun. The picture above is from there.
Tomorrow I'll be heading out to start the Whites, I'm pretty excited about that, most nobos say that its their highlight.
I'm heading back out soon, after a wonderful night of getting warm, watching the movie Southbounders and sleeping in a bed. Its the simple things.
There is a really good chance that I will get to see Eric today, the Eric who also hiked sobo on the pct last year who has been hiking nobo on the at. I'm excited about the chance to connect with him, if I can get him to stop for a little bit that is.
Outside right now, Stratton is getting ready for a parade, I just saw someone tying balloons to their car and a clown walking down the street. I'm not sure if i want to stay and watch, or hit the trail as soon as possible.
Alright, that's about it for now, being in town has made my focus a bit hard to come by. I walked in the store and just stared at all the different choices for about 20 minutes. I'm like a kid in a candy store.
a picture from Michael's blogmkshort.wordpress.com
is it just me, or do i look chubby, um... i mean husky?
maybe its just because my pack looks tiny...
I'm in Stratton, ME right now and have unexpectedly ended up here at the Stratton Motel. So here's the story, last night and today have been pretty rainy and windy, when I made it down to the road crossing where I could hitch into town for a night in a bed and out of the rain, I decided against it and kept going South. A section hiker stopped me and seemed really glad to see me and said that she had lost her fanny pack that had her cell phone and snacks in it and asked if I could look for it and leave it at the next gravel road crossing. I said sure and we both just hoped that it was somewhere obvious on the trail.
I hiked about 45 minutes into this 3-4 hour section and sure enough, it was just off the trail. I was pretty excited and knew that she would be excited too. Now here's where it gets good, I just kept hiking knowing that we didn't have a rendezevous time, I was just going to leave it at the trailhead and continue on my way. Just before I got to the gravel road, I hear something running down the road, I thought it was a horse, but it turns out to be my first moose and because she was running, i didn't have time to get out my camera, bummer.
So I'm still looking at where the moose had run into the woods farther down across the road and then I hear a car. The odds that it would be the section hiker coming at that exact time are phenomenal, but guess who is in the car and I smile and hold up the fanny pack and her hat that was with it. She gives me a huge hug and offers to take me back into town to stay at the motel on her. Talk about trail magic!!
I am so thankful as I was pretty cold from all the rain and would have been fine staying out, but oh man, I was able to get a cheese pizza, some chocolate milk and some donuts. I feel very blessed indeed.
So far the hike has been going great. I met up with a recent college grad named Michael from Tennesse and we hit it off from the start. We talked life, gear, movies, books, stuff, you name it. We had the same start date, so we decided to head off to Katahdin together and stay together until after the 100 mile wilderness where he was going into Monson to get resupplied and I was going to continue on. I'm really thankful for my time with him, he was definitely an answer to prayer. I don't know if our paths will cross again, but I sure hope they do.
The 100 mile wilderness left me wanting a bit more wilderness, it was beautiful, but there were many gravel roads running through it and even a place called the White House Landing where you could stop in for the night and have great pizza and breakfast (or so we were told). We didn't try to go at crazy speeds, but we have similar hiking styles and ended up making it through in 5 days averaging about 20 mile days.
Oh for future sobos, go up the abol trail and down the hunt trail, its shorter and way easier.
The scenery is beautiful, some of it reminds me of Washington, while other parts 5 minutes later look like they could be anywhere in the South. The climbs weren't that bad, there were a lot of bog bridges and roots though, but the wilderness was not the "doozy" that I was expecting.
It's kind of fun to see so many other Sobos, most have heavy packs and are amazed when they hear that we averaged 20 mile days. There are all kinds of people out here, high school grads, college grads, recently out of the military, marrieds, older people, its definitely a social trail and most everyone is friendly, although a lot of the Nobos that are just about to finish have lost all ability to socially interact and are only thinking of Katahdin. The exceptions have been Dr. Bundy and Whitefang, along with Renaisance Man and 3 stove.
I'm definitely realizing that I do enjoy hiking, I love the way the body moves over land, its like a dance, trying to use the least amount of energy possible and make it look effortless, unless of course its the really steep downhills on wet rocks, I look more like a deer on ice just trying not to look stupid.
I left my cell phone on the kitchen counter and missed Jason's call. Oh no!!
He did leave a message at 6:00 pm Pacific time. He is near milepost 170, about a day out from Stratton, Maine. His cell phone battery is getting weak, and he has found it difficult so far to get good reception, and to get it charged.
He sounded good, and said he is doing well.
On a side note, we sent Sanda off to Moldova this morning. Our hearts a aching! She and Soyoung have become like daughters, and we miss them a lot.
Sanda returns to many friends, and she will be volunteering at a church camp as soon as she gets back to Moldova. She may even arrive in Chisinau near the same time as friends from Scotland that volunteer at the camp as well.
That's all for now ....
Rich here ... I'm back. What a privilege to get to be Jason's blog entry guy! This time we only have 3 resupply packages. Quite a difference from the 23 we had for the PCT.
Jason started hiking this morning. from Katahdin. He spent the night at AT Lodge http://www.appalachiantraillodge.com
He said that there will be 5 to 7 hikers riding the shuttle to the trailhea! And, that the first Northbounder just completed the hike.
Also, this morning we had to take Soyoung, our Korean exchange student, to the airport to fly back to Korea. It was a very tearful morning. We will miss her. She was so much fun!!
We still Have Sanda, our exchange student from Moldova. She will be flying home on the 23rd.
Check back for more updates!
Too much time on a Greyhound bus can make you crazy. For instance, I met a 55 year old guy that bought a 60 day bus pass and has been travelling all over the country and still has two weeks left. He asked me if I had heard of the "mile high club", and proceeded to tell me that he had joined the "greyhound club" with a 21 year old drug addict from Texas and now they are going to buy a boat together down in Florida. Add to that the fact the the internet has not been working and you've got one fun filled trip across the Eastern U.S.
Right now I'm in Bangor, Maine enjoying a 6 hour layover until I get back on the bus and head up towards Millinocket for the night and then onto Baxter State Park in the morning to make a summit attempt of Maine's highest peak, Mt. Katahdin at 5,267 feet. By the way it is the toughest climb on the whole Appalachian Trail.
Excitment is definitely starting to build, I honestly haven't done a lot of planning for this trip, so a lot of it has been last minute stuff. I figured that I had the gear and the AT is much closer to towns that the PCT, so it will be easier to wing it. I'm carrying about 6 days of food to take me through the 100 mile wilderness, the most remote section of the trail (nothing like getting all the tough stuff over in the beginning when the adrenaline will be at its highest) and I definitely think that my pack could be lighter.
My interactions with Cassandra went pretty well, she now has her stuff and is responsible for the van for awhile. She made it pretty clear that this isn't just a time of separation, and we signed the first round of divorce papers to start the official process. It definitely brings up a lot of thoughts and questions, but God knows whats going on and is faithful in all circumstances. I am looking forward to the time with Him, just communing in His creation. Life is a journey, everything that happens is an opportunity to learn and grow. Just when I think i've got it figured out, it becomes very obvious to me that I have no clue what's going on. I love Cassandra, I hope she knows that, and I wish her the best in her season of "freedom".
I'll be staying at the AT Lodge tonight and heading out in the morning. This will probably be my last post for awhile and I will gladly hand off the duties to Rich again. I'll be calling from towns and giving him updates that he will hopefully be posting. Please forgive me for not being as good of a journaler as Cassandra. If you really want to know how the trail is going, or what's on my mind, you have an open invitation to come visit or even hike a portion with me.
Speaking of, Eric, fellow SOBO from the PCT last year is hiking northbound and we will hopefully be crossing paths in the next couple of weeks, I'm really excited to see him and I'm going to force him to sit down and talk for a little bit and not just race by like he does all the other hikers out there.
One last note:
I love this opportunity to be out hiking again, especially given the circumstances, but my heart is not dead set on finishing. If God shows me that its time to leave the trail, or if something comes up, I will not be disappointed. Does this mean that I plan to not make it the whole way? No, I'm still going to give it my best effort, but this journey is not just about the trail, its about healing, understanding and growing. Lately, hiking is one thing that has brought me the most peace, no offense to all the amazing friends and family that God has surrounded me with, I am eternally grateful, you don't know how much your friendship means to me
Last week Tuesday, I headed out from Washington in the vw van just hoping that it would make it to the Midwest. My plan was to take it slow, give the van plenty of time to rest and get to Wisconsin sometime on Sunday, maybe Saturday if I decided to push it. My honest thought was that it would be just perfect if something happened to it, just adding insult to injury, kind of like Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty.
The first night I made it to Montana, but only after almost running out of gas. I don't know about you, but I just wish there was some way to fill up gas while still driving. Without Cassandra drinking her coffee, I didn't have to stop every 20 minutes and felt like I could just keep going. It always feels like an inconvenience to have to stop, slthough putting gas in the tank is a worthy stop.
Wednesday was a smooth day, I kept waiting to hear that infamous clanking sound, or see the check engine light come on, but nothing. The van went a pretty consistant 50mph while all the semi-trucks and grandma's in walkers passed us, but at least we were moving. I pulled into a Walmart for the night after making it to North Dakota. Wow, maybe the van will make it...
Thursday was another smooth day and we made it all the way to Wisconsin, and stayed only 4 hours from my friend Thom's house. This trip isn't so bad at all, except the fact that somebody turned the furnace on outside and the temps were in the 90's! This is just a little shocking, as Washington had only reached 70 degrees once or twice all year.
So needless to say, I made it to Wisconsin, have been at Thom's house since Friday and spend most of the time sitting in the refridgerator trying to stay cool. Am I really ready to hike the AT and have to deal with all the humidity and thunderstorms...