AT - Day 21

Wolly Hood offered to clear the tables for me, so I departed without breakfast. Mooseleg had slept on a ledge at the falls, and we headed out simultaneously. We hiked over Zeacliff, Mount Guyot, and South Twin to the new Galehead Hut, where Mole had already arrived. On the “rollercoaster” path near Gale River Trail, a young woman carried a heavy load to a trail crew campsite. At the Garfield Ridge Campsite entrance, Wanchor lounged on a bed of rocks and ferns, while bantering nobos lined up for spring water spilling out of a trough. After a visit with a ranger on Mount Garfield and a Scout group looking for water near Garfield Pond, I climbed Mount Lafayette. The cell phone frustrated me again. I dragged myself along Franconia Ridge, down the boulder-strewn Liberty Springs trail to the bike path in Franconia Notch, thence to the payphone at the Flume.

Weakened after missing dinner and skipping breakfast, I gritted my way past Mount Lafayette on a lacking diet of candy bars. I dragged myself to the Flume parking lot, but couldn’t get a ride into Franconia. Strangers took me for “hiker trash.” An older couple answered my appeal for help with, “Not today, thank you.” In frustration I replied, “I just hiked 20 miles in the mountains.” The lady answered, “Do you want us to call the police for you?” I finally reached Tricia on the payphone. She contacted Rick and Judy, who were holding my maildrop, and they came to get me. Months later, Judy commented, “You seemed to be walking on air, like you’d been holding your breath for a long time.”



AT - Day 1

Tricia brought me to our reserved shelter at Katahdin Stream Campground in glorious weather, so I climbed Mount Katahdin early, departing with a day pack at 11 a.m. The trail went flat for a mile, up for 3 miles, then flat for another mile. A bright sunny sky with billowy clouds made for a perfect start. Lakes dotted the landscape, both north and south. At the summit Brooks shared a cup of water and Beth Ann took pictures with my camera. I officially began my sobo (southbound) hike at 2:45 p.m., when I headed back down the mountain. The round-trip took 6 hours and 50 minutes. After dinner, Tricia and I brought food over to nobos (northbounders) in the shelter opposite us, who were finishing their thru-hike on July 4th.

The nobos held a 45-minute clinic on thru-hiking for me. The Beast talked about lengthening your stride to hike 30-mile days. Leave room in your shoes to prevent jamming your toes on downhills, he said. Transient was continuing home on the International Appalachian Trail. Listen to your body, he said. When your mind flashes “Snickers,” that’s your body telling you it’s time for a snack. Lone Wolf (from Utah) had intense excitement. Use anti-bacterial Neosporin for everything, he said, including when “your butt cheeks get chapped from too much climbing.” He said he’d broken out crying from too much time alone at shelters. Then he joked, “Your worst predicaments will make you laugh the most… afterwards.”