forest

Katahdin: 2,189 miles

Oct0ber 1, 2015

 

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The trail was a stream…

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Met Horse and Chesapeake while climbing the mountain…today felt like any other day.

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I wish I could have done Razor’s edge…wasn’t confident enough to go alone o.o guess I’ll just have to go back…dad?

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I offered Horse and Chesapeake a ride back to town…so we left together.

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When we got to the bottom of the mountain…I found a note saying: Captain Planet- your ride broke down.

Under that note was one to Horse and Chesapeake: Your family is here.

It was a weird change of events. I caught a ride with them instead and as we were driving back we saw Mother Earth go blazing past. We flipped the car around and chased her for a good ten miles, until the ranger station. We called it the Mom Car Chase. We were going about 60-65 on the tiny road leading to Baxter.

It was fun to laugh and yell and honk the horn. I was super glad for the ride, for the smiles and for new friends at the end of it all.

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Kevin turned the big 60 today! We celebrated his 60th birthday and the end of trail with an awesome dinner and chocolate cake ^_^ Happy Birthday Kevin!

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Thanks guys! I couldn’t have done it without you.

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I’m proud of myself for sticking with the blog, got a few more days left until I really “finished” trail ^_^

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Lunar Eclipse:Night hike to a view

09-27-2015

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Mama K^0927151143-000927151831-010927151853-000927152043-00

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My mom took this picture^ We were both out watching the eclipse that night ^_^

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Mr. Bill’s knife and Mama K

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I said goodbye to Flask and walked off to complete the last bit of trail. As soon as we parted I saw a moose! I spent the day walking at a good pace. In the evening I stopped at a campsite on a lake so I could watch the eclipse.

After awhile the campsite got overrun with other hikers. It was a small site, and I wasn’t feeling social, so I packed my gear and left right after sunset. I watched the big yellow moon rise over the lake as the eclipse started. I got to the base of Nesuntabunt Mountain and found an empty shelter. I could see the eclipse through the thick pine forest throughout the night. Gradually the light was dimming and the moon was glowing red.

The climb up the mountain was difficult to follow in the dark. It went up through large cascades of boulders and I kept losing track of the white blazes. Every so often I would stop, feeling lost, and frantically look around for trail markers. The forest grew darker and darker as the night went on and my headlamp kept going out because it was broken. I kept seeing the forest flash in and out of existence. Every so often a white blaze would flash by.

I found my headlamp in a hiker box. The battery cover was broken and I had tied it together with a headband for the past few months. My hiker trash headlamp made the journey up the mountain a terrifying experience. When the light went out, I would stop and calmly look at the moon. After a few moments of darkness I retied the headband and continued my trek.

When I got to the top of the mountain I found two tents set up in the middle of trail. I was profoundly annoyed because I wanted to keep walking, but the signage was right between the tents. I picked a direction and apologized for disturbing the hikers then continued onward. I didn’t get far when I realized that I had chosen the incorrect direction.

The trail steeply fell away, and I found myself standing at the edge of a rocky cliff. I felt fear on trail a number of times, but this was true terror.  I sat down and looked out to Katahdin and above me was the full-lunar eclipse, a giant blood red moon. I searched nearby the viewpoint for a flat spot to camp because I didn’t know where the trail continued. I found a nice stealth site…OFF-TRAIL o.o and pitched my tent for the night.

In the morning I woke to watch the sunrise in the distance. I sat at the viewpoint and ate my oatmeal. I was thinking about Mr. Bill, so I took a picture of his knife with the mountain in the distance. This was the most breathtaking night I experienced on trail, certainly a grand finale.

Ha ha ha- A little side note: I looked up the meaning of Nesuntabunt Mountain…”Three humps”—the mountain has three summits and is surrounded by granite cliffs.

Franconia Ridge

8-25-2015

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In the morning we woke to fog. The clouds that formed the beautiful view the night before were foreshadowing. A storm rolled in as we crossed Franconia Ridge. We were near the highest point of the ridge, above treeline, when the thunder started. So we ran from rock to rock as rain started pouring down. As we moved along, the rain turned to sleet, then to hail.

I lost Mother Earth’s camera this day due to water damage. Yonder and I made it down the mountain without injury and trudged through ankle deep water for several miles. It was late in the day, we were drenched and everything in my pack as wet when we reached the second hut. We wanted to stay, but the crew wasn’t receptive because of the rain. So we had some hot soup and bread in our dry woolies, then put our freezing wet clothes back on and climbed up the next mountain looking for a campsite. Near the top we found a tiny site in the forest of death.

From here on out I took pictures with my flip phone and disposable cameras.

Mt. Liberty

8-24-2015

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We hitched back to trail later in the day after much debate about the weather. We climbed Mt. Liberty and stealth camped in what I had taken up calling the forest of death. High elevation forest in the White Mountains consists of an Alpine ecosystem that often looks as if every tree might blow over at any moment. There are few places on the ground to put a tent, so we carefully tried to pick spots that were low impact, but not full of logs.

In the evening we climbed Mt. Liberty to watch the sunset. It was a phenomenal view as light beams shot out from behind dark clouds.

After Trail I returned to this part of the trail and climbed Mt. Liberty with Mother Earth… then we got a very special view of this amazing place. I will post about this when we get there!!!

Kinsman

8-23-2015

“Success on trail is measured by what you want and how far you are willing to go to achieve that goal.”

-Grey Goat

“No, real success is when the trail changes what you want.”

-Captain Planet

“That’s called growth.”

-Grey Goat

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Yonder!IMG_5633

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Yonder stole my camera…I found this on it later…

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We climbed Kinsman today. We had awesome views the whole way up and spent time taking in the view from the top with Rocket Turtle.

In the evening we tried hitching a ride into Lincoln, and got picked up by none other than the Rocket Turtle gang! Although…we had to help them find Rocket Turtle, who somehow ended up in a different pick up location on the highway.

We spent the night at Chet’s Place and I made some art. We had a great night and some nice conversations. It was a small group of us staying at the bunk house that evening. We mostly hitched back because I wanted to meet Chet, but instead I just chatted with hikers.

Since we took a few days off I wrote a recap of my time since I was injured.

Trail Log:

Chet’s Place: White Mountains and the Dissolution of Ego

“I went to the mountains because I wanted to be strong. Instead of finding strength, I found that I do not exist.”

5 months on trail

The emotional ego journey has led me into a new state of being. When I came out here I told everyone that my reason for hiking was to become strong. What I had meant was that I wanted to be independent. As hard as I tried to be independent, I still kept ending up in groups or with a hiking buddy.  I wanted to do big miles, so I did. I wanted to be fast, so I was and I wanted to try my hardest. I thought I could be more than I was and carried too much weight. When I injured my leg I was carrying a 40lb pack.

My hike was energetic, tiring and truly challenging. I hit the trail hard and it was raw.

Then I wore down. The weight did not make me stronger, and I broke.  The day I was injured my hip belt broke on my pack. Then my hip started hurting. I sprained a groin muscle and severely injured my lower back causing my hip and knees to give out.  I then hobbled on stubbornly for two weeks until it became obvious that I could no longer walk.  I limped without my pack on. When my mom came to get me in Vermont, I couldn’t walk to the bathroom without crawling a little or grabbing onto walls to stand.  It sank in that I was probably going home; my hike was over.

A new hike started.

I got in the car and began to drive to PA. I felt sick, sad, and hopeless. I wished with all my strength that I could change the current circumstances. I was in denial. As I drove south, I could feel the last four months slipping away from me, skipping by and ending.

I wasn’t prepared to cope with the end of trail so soon. I was less troubled by the thought of not finishing than I was by the thought of returning to normal life. When we crossed the Susquehanna River I broke down. I had to stop and take a moment. I wept.

I couldn’t articulate my thoughts, so I leaned over my leg and cried. I decided at this point that I should drive myself away from trail. I knew that no one was going to help me get back to Vermont because everyone thought I should stop. I got in the car and cruised.  I had to get away from trail.

I was so happy when I walked out of PA and so disgusted when I saw the welcome sign.

 

Veta’s House

There I was sitting on the steps of my old friend’s house. We hadn’t seen one another in ten years. I was sitting there drinking a hard cider, leg propped up, writing…when  my tent fell gently, then suddenly and dramatically collapsed on the ground.

My tent poles snapped in three places at once. This was the lowest moment in my entire hike. My leg was broken, my tent was broken, my heart was broken, my confidence was gone, but I kept pushing…because I’m really stubborn.

As a response I booked a greyhound back to trail. 2o hours on a bus that smelled like urine and 8 hours of waiting in the city. The thick film and grime of the city stuck to my senses and sounds kept me overly alert. I felt as if I were crawling out of the mouth of hell. My leg still pounded with pain and I shamefully limped awkwardly to the bus. People stared. Was I a traveling kid? Was I a traveler? Was I homeless? No one asked. When I arrived in Bennington I dragged myself over to the post office to hopefully pick up my tent.

No tent.

No vacancy in town.

I walked up to the nearest car a asked for a ride. He didn’t want to leave an “injured woman in the woods.” So I told him I’d walk myself there.

He reluctantly dropped me off at trail.

I walked my first mile on trail up to the first shelter. I have never felt such nauseating pain. I kept telling myself “One foot in front of the other.” I took breaks every ten minutes and was overly aware of every single, slow step.

I met Blackfoot (New Jersey) and Voyager (Virginia) again after 4 months on trail. When I got to the shelter I went for water and met Little Giant (North Carolina) again.

It was encouraging to be back on trail again, but I could still barely walk. I limped around d the shelter and everyone looked concerned.

The next day I walked to the next shelter. I arrived at 11am and spent the day drawing in the log book.

There were only section hikers  and weekend warriors there

that night. I answered lots of questions and was regarded mostly as weird.

I would have hiked on to the top of the mountain, but my tent was mostly useless. I was aiming to pick up a new tent in Rutland.

I watched the sun set and then rise from the tower on the mountain. It was a moving experience.

This was a difficult day. I landed at noon in quite a lot of pain. I pitched the Easton for the last time in the woods. I stretched and meditated for hours trying to come to terms with my current state. I tried to feel better, but every time I put weight on my leg, an internal pang of shock would shoot through my hip. I thought I was finished.

The next morning I felt better. As the days passed my swelling went down.

By the time I reached the White Mountains I had very little pain, but I couldn’t hike more than 15 miles in a day. I did this a few times and my leg began to hurt again.

 

 

Hikers Welcome Hostel

8-19-2015

Today we walked to the Hikers Welcome Hostel. I needed my resupply box as this was our last stop before the White Mountains. The hostel fed us salad and milk. It was pretty full hostel by the end of the night. It got pretty rowdy with the party bubble hikers. It was a night of loud talking, fighting and large…unnecessary fires.

But! When we packed into the car to go to the gas station…I spied a familiar face. Sota’ Sam was walking inside as we parked, so I hopped out and ran to give him a hug. He had just completed the White Mountains southbound, so we wouldn’t be hiking near each other, but I was super glad to see him this last time before the end of trail. We chatted and hung out at the Hikers Welcome.

During the night someone stole Billy’s food bag. Sam told me in the morning, so we searched for it, finding out that a skunk, a big one, had dragged the food bag behind the bunkhouse and had a party.

 

Lights in the Sky and Dancing Bones

08-18-2015

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Yonder and I climbed over Mt. Cube and wandered down a random road to the local swimming hole. It was hot and town was crowded with a big bubble of hikers, so we stopped at the lake for a few hours.

Afterwards we headed towards the Dancing Bones eco-community village. We walked a mile and a half down a dirt road and took right up to the village. It was like a ghost town. Eventually a few kids wandered down and said hi. They brought down an adult who told us where we could camp and showed us the showers. The vibe was not as energetic as I had imagined it would be. We barely saw anyone.

The campsite was in a big circular grassy area that looked as if it had once been a cultural hub. A burnt down, collapsed structure was next to us. It was a little eerie to be in a seemingly abandoned place when I had expected to interact with a community.

That night we had clear stars and they were still falling from the meteor shower. So Yonder and I chatted while we watched the stars. Then, the sky started lighting up with weird purple flickers. It looked like heat lightning without the clouds. The flashes of purple continued for a long time and Yonder tried to convince me that it was aliens.

We found out later that the purple flashes we had seen were the Northern Lights.