Option C: I Hate Waterfalls

6/23/16 Unmentionable Hostel 16 miles

I had a very nervous stomach this morning when I woke up. Today we summit Moosilauke and for some reason I am suddenly terrified. Darwin has been worrying about this mountain since before we even got off trail last year. I am ready to get this beast out of the way.

We started out this morning at a very cruisey pace leaving behind Rambler, Popeye and Olive-Oil who were still packing up. We shared most of the first few miles with just each other until we ran into a Southey. This hiker knew immediately who Darwin was from watching a few of his YouTube videos. This was the first time Darwin had been recognized on the trail so we both giggled with excitement after we stopped and talked with him. Darwin would never admit it openly but he was totally stoked someone recognized him. PEOPLE ARE WATCHING!!!

We made it to a shelter to take an early lunch trying to power up before our climb up Moosilauke. I found it hard to eat as my stomach did flip-flops. I kept on thinking of that stupid elevation chart in the guide and of Roub’s notes for this section. Roub had sent us notes for certain upcoming sections of trail and for Moosilauke he warned us of a steep, slippery decent down a waterfall that was very dangerous. Great! I was trying to convince myself Roub must have been really tired when he had climbed and it wouldn’t be that bad however, I wasn’t very good at convincing myself. The reality of it was Roub knows how I hike and he would be honest as Abe in order to make sure we were prepared. Ugg.

In the middle of our lunch Rambler arrived which made me feel better. She is a strong hiker and I really enjoy our conversations together. Maybe we could talk our way up and over the moose. We passed thru our last “pasture land” at the bottom of the mountain which I was glad for. Darwin and I have become freaks about checking for ticks on these overgrown sections.

We finally began climbing and noticed the gain in elevation was not as drastic as we had expected. We had a lot of water running down the trail from small springs which was very refreshing. Stopping a little here and there to see what we could between trees, I started to feel that everything was going to be okay. Although the climb was long it was not terrible and before I knew it we were on a stretch of somewhat flat ground popping out above tree line. Once at the summit the three of us slapped the sign and took our pictures. We took in our 360 degree view not really knowing what mountains we gazed upon but appreciating the view the AT had finally bestowed upon us.

Feeling like hiker rock stars we started to make our way down. We chatted for a while about random things waiting for the supposed dangerous waterfall to appear. As we continued, our decent became steeper and the rumble of the waterfall could be heard. It wasn’t bad at first and we all stopped to admire the falls; beautiful! As we continued we got closer to the falls and the trail became muddier and rocky. Rambler and Darwin started pulling ahead of me and my frustration to try to keep up grew. Then with just a slight turn the trail changed for the worse. It was like I crossed an imaginary line, this was exactly what Roub had warned about, wet slippery trail with no options to avoid it. My eyes were instantly pinned on my feet watching myself take every step down from one rock to another wet rock, my body suddenly feeling very top-heavy. Just as I was really cursing the rocks, they were gone along with any sign of dirt trail. What was left was worse! Blocks of wet wood, loosely bolted into the side of the mountain’s rock face with the occasional rebarb step (which of course was wet due to the waterfall). Ahh! Give me the rocks back! Are you flipping serious!

I felt like an old rickety lady with a cane going down Moosilauke. The only way I was able to take each step was to analyze it before taking it, shake my trekking poles, take a partial step then step back up, take another partial step then back up, look at Darwin and shake my head, bounce a little like a baby bird about to jump from the nest, then finally make a successful step down. This whole process took a least ten minutes each time. Occasionally I’d stop and wipe the sweat rolling down my face and wipe my sweaty hands on my shorts. It was at this time I would take in my situation and review the options. I’d could either A: plummet to my likely death hitting every freaking wood block on the way straight down, but a least be off the mountain B: buckle from exhaustion into the water fall on my left but at least be cooled off or C: somehow make it down the damn mountain and swear to hate waterfalls the rest of my life.

I went for option C, conquering the longest and most terrifying mile and a half in my personal record book. I was shakey once we reached the bottom and sincerely felt I was going to vomit but I was at least on flat dirt trail. Rain or shine Roub, this was totally my worst decent.


6/19/16 – The Power of Ice Cream and Kindness

6/19/16     Linda Hart’s Place     17 miles

Today we had a lot of rollers (climbs) and heat but nothing as bad as yesterday.  Nothing seemed to be as steep either just very constant up and downs. Over all I felt pretty good today needing a little “grit” to push on till lunch and I-Pod/Propel Power after.

We stopped occasionally for Darwin to adjust his toe bandages.  Once he gets it just right, we can keep cruising for a while. His toe seems to be the hot topic of discussion. Is it better? Would a different bandage work? A different position? It’s effecting his stride, It’s gone numb, Is it good that it’s numb? It’s painful, Should we do smaller days? I have never talked about a toe or even thought about a toe as much as I have in the last few days.

Our final destination of the today was West Hartford (Vermont). The trail went over the White River and thru the town. We had read in the guide that a few trail angels would allow hikers to tent in their yards so we banked on doing so for the night. We crossed a bridge into town and watched as a few locals jumped off into the water. Our first thought initial thought was to secure a tent spot in a yard then take a dip. However upon turning on the main road, we noticed an ice-cream parlor. We hobble-walked down the road and dropped our packs at the parlor. We rushed the window with a few other hikers and blurted out our orders before the terrified ladies inside could even open the window all the way.

We waited while drooling and sweating outside the window. As the first hand with an ice cream cone emerged from the window we fell in silent awe. Once Darwin and I were finally handed our cones, we sought shelter from the sun and squeezed our selves into the small area of shade of a neighboring business. We lapped up every drop of melting ice cream and crunched every bit of our cones. Once every piece of cone and drip of ice-cream was ingested, we sighed and smiled at each other in sugar ecstasy. Darwin then got up and retrieved a second round for both of us.

While coming down from our sugar high, Darwin spoke with the ladies working the ice-cream parlor concerning the best yard to tent in for the night. They had no idea what he was talking about but kindly pointed us back towards the bridge where a  blue house perfectly marked with a very large AT symbol sat. We hobble-walked back down the road to the blue house. It didn’t appear that anyone was home but we did notice a cooler on the porch. We took a closer look and BINGO, the cooler was full of sodas and there was a basket full of raisins along with a hiker log book! I downed a soda and ate some raisins and as I was chewing my last mouth full a truck pulled up driven by Linda Hart. She immediately greeted us and asked if we were staying in the bunk house or tenting. Before we could say a word, she was leading us to the bunk house that was a perfect hiker hideaway complete with a porter-john outside. We were easily convinced to bunk it and dropped our packs for the day.

Linda provided us towels in order to take a soak across the street in the swimming hole and told us dinner would be on in a few hours. We looked at each other in shock. What? Dinner? Wow! What had we stumbled upon! Not much of a swimmer, I floated along the rocks of the river while Nic swam and submerged himself in the small rapids looking like a true mountain man. After about an hour, Rambler came across the bridge and we hollered at her to meet us at the blue house. We tripped over ourselves to tell her of Linda and the bunk house just as Linda came out and gave the same offerings to Rambler in true trail angel style!

While sitting on the side porch discussing the day with Rambler, Popeye and Olive Oil crossed over the bridge. We hollered them over just as Linda started dishing out ice cream sandwiches and her husband Randy started putting hot dogs on the grill. We were all entertained that evening by Linda and Randy’s grandson and were fed a million hot dogs, pasta salad, along with veggies and fruit. We listened to stories Linda shared of her nephew who hiked the trail and Hurricane Irene that took her and Randy’s first home. We were all a big family around the table and are most overwhelmed by the kindness of the Hart Family.

We all retired to the bunk house rejoicing in our good fortune and full bellies. This as of date, is our biggest trail magic experience on the trail. Amazing!




Attacked By Birch…

6/14/16 – Lost Pond Shelter – 14.8 miles

After rotting our brains with the Simpsons last night we headed out for more trail this morning and the miles seemed to go quickly. As we reached the summit of Bromley Mt. we were greeted with a spaceship, at least what looked strikingly like a space ship. The space ship was actually a ski lift that looked very out-of-place being surrounded by the green grass on the summit. I always forget that life doesn’t just stop in trail towns or mountains when hiking season is over. In a few months this place will be covered with snow and a new group of adventurers will dominate the mountain.
The trail today was a mix of sunny old growth forests leaving me thinking of the movie trailer for Tarzan I had seen the night before. I then imagined Tarzan swinging in and out of the trees along the trail. That would be a good topic of discussion at the next shelter “Hey did you guys see Tarzan swing from the tree earlier?” I then started thinking of which version of Tarzan I preferred. I ultimately decided to go with George of the Jungle instead. He would be less serious and always good for a laugh but still pleasant to look at.
There were a crazy amount of slippery boards taking the place of dirt trail today as well. We hiked and partly skied along the boards taking us over marshy green land. Although slicky, I was glad for any amount of mud and water they saved us from as my foot will always find a puddle. Crossing thru this, section we passed a few snakes bigger than the last few I’ve seen.
We had a steep rock face climb today that was a total blast and gave us an amazing view once we reached the top. Cruising down from this peak we saw our first pile of what we believed to be moose poop! Sadly we never saw the moose but we were just as excited to see its poop. I tried to get Darwin to take a picture of it but sadly he refused.
Almost to the shelter for the night, Darwin was attacked! We were hiking along in silence when he screamed “Ahhh!” I glanced back to see what was the matter when from the corner of my eye I saw something brown and heard what sounded like something running. I hauled ass down trail only able to scream back “What was it?” When I was a safe distance away, I looked back to see Darwin smiling holding up his trekking pole with a huge piece of Birch Bark attached. He had simply driven his trekking pole into a huge piece of bark. Shocked at the huge piece he had stabbed he exclaimed “Ahhh” and started shaking his pole to get it off. This was the noise I thought was an animal running. He was cracking up
at me after I hauled ass thinking we were being chased by something. He then also brought to my attention that I totally just left him behind. If he was being attacked, I was totally outta there! We giggled the whole way to the shelter.

Moral of the story: Never trust someone named “Snuggles” to save your life in the wilderness. That person is a huge wiener.




6/8/16   Willows Motel    12miles

We summited Greylock this morning! The trail to the summit was beautiful and very fairy like.  We woke to a cold and windy morning, thankfully without hail. We hiked out alone and as we climbed from the shelter the wind increased. Occasionally looking back to make sure we were not holding up anyone (the wind was the only thing we could hear) we found ourselves looking back to only fog.

Right before the summit, we passed by a beautiful lake with a small cabin on one side. We later found out from Roub last year this was more of a shelter, now it had been gutted leaving only an eerie presence. We hiked on to a non-existent view thanks to the fog. After Darwin filmed the small view we did have, we made our way down still never seeing any other hikers.

Our descent from Greylock was steep and about a half mile or less from a road walk into town it happened. We gave the right of way to a dayhiker with her lab which instantly led me to thoughts of Bowie. I continued with one last glance back when I took a step and everything went into slow motion. I felt weightless, I saw dirt, I saw dirt moving past me, I saw tree, I felt tree, silence, I felt my the full weight of my pack and body.

Darwin was instantly in front me assessing the damage. I was having a Christmas Story Moment in my mind and tried to hold back my tears as I checked my glasses, surly I had broken them when my head hit the tree. Thankfully, I did not need to blame an icicle, my glasses were in one piece. I then heard the day hiker behind ask if I was okay as my emotions caught up, I became super pissed at myself. I couldn’t respond to either Darwin or the dayhiker or I was gonna cry. The only thing I could manage was to hold my bent trekking pole up in the air towards Darwin like a robot, up and down waving my mechanical arm. After a few minutes I was able to choke out “I’m so pissed”.

I finally got my senses back and stood up. I had scraped my shoulder, my leg, and my ass was already super sore. Darwin bent back my treking pole and checked on my ever growing goose egg on my forehead. We continued on into town hiking out with lady day hiker and her dog. I felt so stupid, not even a week out and I had not only busted my ass but my head too.

6/9/16 Congdon Shelter    14 miles 

Today is me and Darwin’s wedding anniversary! We both forgot! Haha! We have both been so excited about the trail we overlooked our anniversary. Darwin was however the first to remember while having breakfast this morning. One year ago today we crossed the Mason Dixon Line and today we crossed into Vermont. We have been stuck in Massachusetts for the last 11 months in our heads and it is wonderful to finally mentally and physically move on.

The trail today was cold and windy with a drizzly rain at times. We felt almost like were were in New Jersey with exposed ridges. We watched a doe go cross a meadow today. Although we have been hoping for a moose, we were glad to see her. She was lovely and graceful. Yes, I had a Helen Hoover moment. We also walked along trail made of boards next to a beaver dam. It gave me the sense that I was walking in the lake close by as it was technically waist high. The beaver dam is an impressive thing. I couldn’t imagine if that dam broke while hiking along side of it. A hiker would be washed away for sure. Now if only I could see a real beaver…

We got to camp around fourish and traded hiking stories with Bean-Dip, Birdie, Two Decades and few new hikers: The Berenstain Bears (brother and sister team), Arizona, and Roller.

6/10/16 Kid Gore Shelter   18 miles

We busted out our biggest day yet due to our food situation. We had a lot of rock climbs and rock stairs today but it’s still better than the trail in Pennsylvania! I was pretty pooped but with the help of the good ol’ I-Pod and a long break, the last four miles of the day were pretty cruisey. I have yet to really feel like the miles are a chore; I am really enjoying the hike this time! We snagged a great tent spot and spent the evening enjoying the best view on trail since the Smokies with Roller a hiker from England.

I do at times forget that Roub, Cruise Control, Mufassa and other hikers from last year are not out here with us. I catch myself turning a bend in the trail expecting to see one of them. We have found a few shelter logs with their entries from last year which is always interesting to read.