Sunday, August 31, 2008

Maine: The Final Frontier

So I did it. I hiked from Georgia to Maine. I've satisfied the requirements of my blog's URL. I can go home now, right?

Wrong! I still have some 266 miles to go until I reach Mt. Katahdin. And if the rest of the Maine is anything like the southern part of the state, I'm in for some tough hiking.
It's not, by the way, but these last few days have been taking a toll on my knees. I just crawled my way through Mahoosuc Notch today--the supposed toughest mile on the whole trail. It was strenuous, but it wasn't as horrible as people made it out to be. It was actually quite fun...negotiating huge boulders that required climbing over or crawling under them...a good way to spend a morning.

I'm now sitting at the computer of the Pine Ellis Hostel in Andover, Maine. I met an elderly woman here who told me she fell in love for the first time in Winooski, Vermont. Only on the trail.

Well August is over, and I'm running out of trail. Bittersweet you say? I say, it hasn't hit me yet.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Photogallery Time

Just rolled into Gorham. I have completed the whites. They were amazing. I'm back at M&M's. I have uploaded photos. Here they are (click to enlarge, photos by Hot Tang):

Here we all are atop Mt. Cube... a rare group shot.

On top of Mt. Moosilauke. This is the only cloudy weather we had during the whites.

Coming down the steep descent of Moosilauke.

Franconia Ridge

More Franconia

A little siesta on the Webster Cliffs

Mt. Washington is in the Background

Work-for-stay at Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Scrubbing walls. We weren't very effective.

The Summit of Mt. Washington.

The Cog Railroad which goes to the summit.

Oh, and after 3 months, I finally caught up to Freefall.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Whites

Here is a photo of me atop Mt. Killington in Vermont. But I won't bore you with stories of such petty mountains. I'm in the Whites!

And they have been absolutely...amazing. Nothing else in my thru-hike has compared to these mountains. I'm very glad they arrived at the end of my journey instead of, in the south-bounders' case, the beginning. The whites just dwarf everything else on the trail...literally. As soon as we hit the Franconia Ridge, I knew we were in for a treat. It consisted of three mountains in a row, all above tree-line, on an exposed ridge. Also, the weather was perfect: Sunny and warm, with a light breeze...something very rare in an area known for the worst weather in the world. I summitted Mt. Washington this morning around 8AM, before any of the tourists, with clear skies and a spectacular 360 degree view of New Hampshire and Maine. It was sublime.
I'm sure I'd be singing a much different tune if it we had rain and heavy winds. With all the rocks and exposed ridge-line we would either be slipping down the mountain or blown off it entirely. But I guess south-bounders did it in those conditions, and survived.

The Hut system here has been great as well. Normally, people pay $80-$90 for a night at one of these huts, but thru-hikers can stay for free in exchange for a night (or morning) of work. This has worked for us three times. We get the leftovers from dinner and breakfast, a warm place to stay, and all we have to do is organize a bookshelf or scrub a wall. A good deal.

We've been taking some amazing photos (and even better videos), but I can't post them yet, because we don't have the cable to do so. But hopefully I can get some up here when I get to Gorham, which is only 2 days away.

Right now, I'm sitting here in North Conway, drinking a microbrew, and eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's. An '07 thru-hiker, M&M, has taken Rock, Roll, Hot Tang, and I into her condo for the night, and she is truly a trail angel. Thank you, if you are reading this!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Live Free or Hike

I smell like DEET. The mosquitoes have been on attack-mode lately. But I just arrived at the Hiker's Welcome Hostel in Glencliff, NH, and will soon take a much needed shower and do some much needed laundry.

Glencliff is the last stop before the great White Mountains of New Hampshire. Where the weather is fierce and the elevation is high. We will be hiking a 12 mile stretch above treeline and tackle Mt. Washington where we will climb above 6,000 feet: something not done since Clingman's Dome in North Carolina. If I don't make it back probably wouldn't find out for a while, since I wouldn't be able to blog about it.

Still hiking with Hot Tang, Earthbound, and Briar. Took 2 zeros in Hanover. Had a great time with the family! Good to see everyone one last time before it's all over. Going to Hit 1800 miles tomorrow. woo hoo!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Left as Rain

Hello from Rutland, VT! I'm sitting in the Rutland Free Library right now, warm and dry: A nice change of pace. The rain has been relentless as many Vermonters reading this now can attest. Each day leaves my shoes and clothes, a soggy mess. But that's the trail for you.

I'm currently staying at the Twelve Tribes hostel here in Rutland above the Back Home Again Cafe. This little religious community (read: cult) is putting us up and feeding us all for a work-for-stay arrangement. And despite the fact the police raided their compound years back on allegations of child abuse, they seem quite nice and I've enjoyed my stay thus far.

In other news, I have less than 500 miles to go at this point, and I can smell the White mountains just around the corner. We have officially diverged from the Long Trail so maybe it will get a little less crowded now that we only have one set of thru-hikers.

Well since I'm wasting precious calories typing, I believe I will stop to gorge myself yet again today. Next stop: Hanover, where I will see the brother and the Uncle (and maybe the 'rents again!).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I am Home! (kind of)

First off, here's the picture of me on the Pike:

And here's a more current picture of my return to my Home state:

Yes, I am in Vermont where I'm hiking the A.T. and Long Trail simultaneously. It's good to be home, but does home have to be so muddy? The Long Trail has been one giant mud puddle so far, and with all this rain I don't think the remainder will be any different.

We have been hammered lately. Packing up in the rain this morning was not too fun at all, but we still pulled a 21 mile day to get into Manchester Ctr. Where we are staying at the Green Mountain House: A wonderful hiker hostel with all the frills, including free soda (like nectar to me).

So I'm happy to be dry for a night, but I'm sure that won't last long, looking at the weather forecast. Welcome to Vermud!

Also, I hope you get back on the trail, Blaze. Hang in there!

Friday, August 1, 2008

New England!

Hello from Dalton, MA. Taking a zero day here at a place called The Birdcage: This guy Rob lets hikers stay at his place, does their laundry and shuttles them around to wherever they need. The trail definitely needs more guys like him.

Anyway, Massachusetts has been a good hike so far. It's probably the wettest state I've been in yet as it seems like there is a stream, pond, river, lake, or swamp every mile. So we haven't had to worry about water too much. But this also means we have been attacked by mosquitoes pretty steadily, and thus can't take too many extended breaks during the day...which is probably for the best since the days are starting to get shorter again.

I'd show you all a photo of me on the foot bridge that crosses the Mass Pike, but the strict old librarians here won't let you plug anything into the PCs. I'm afraid to accidentally go over my allotted hour for fear of being beheaded.

We've begun to run into our first batch of SOBOs¹ recently, who bring stories from the north and take up our hostel space. But it's neat to think that they have just hiked what I'm about to. It makes it a little more real and much more imaginable.

Only 30 or so miles until Vermont! Can't wait.

¹ Thru-hikers hiking southbound (ie. from Maine to Georgia).