Saturday, December 6, 2014

AT is now our home.....

Was in town resupplying and checking email today. Received notice from my landlord that me and mom are being evicted. We are heading to Fayetteville, NC right now, taking turns driving through the night, to move our belongings into storage tomorrow, Sumday 8 December. We will return to VT on Monday to continue trudging south. If you are in the Fayetteville area and want to help us move tomorrow give me a call, 404-234-6513. The AT truly is my home now...haha!!! Crazy how everything works out.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mother Nature has Won Maine....I concede the remaining 89.3 miles of Maine

Mother Nature always wins, and despite my best efforts, in the end she has won the round of Maine.  It is with a very heavy heart and much shame and disgust that I must concede the remaing 89.3 miles I have to do in Maine.  The weather has gotten too severe in Maine for me to tent overnight by myself and the snow is too deep for us to get Mom's car to the trail crossings in order for me to day hike, we need a 4x4 but only have a Nissan Altima with studded winter tires.  Therefore, I am picking up the trail where we finished the Whites in Glencliff, NH and heading south.  The terrain is nowhere near as rugged as Maine and so I can make the longer hikes to the blacktop road crossings.  So I am not throwing in the towel, I will just be 89.3 miles short of a thru-hike...what a lesson in humility.  I guess hiking 2096 miles is still an accomplishment.  All the way, Airborne!!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Southern Maine

So when we flip-flopped we jumped from Virginia up to Katahdin, ME and began hiking south.  We made it as far south as Carratunk, ME when we decided we needed to jump down and complete the Whites before the weather got bad and we we risked getting closed out of the Whites.  So down to the Whites we headed and knocked them out.  So once we finished the Whites we still have the section of trail from Carratunk, ME to Gorham, NH to finish.

So on Saturday 8 November, our Trail Angel Lois drove us back up to Gorham, ME so we could head north and finish southern Maine.

Sunday 9 November - We have been warned that southern Maine is just as rough is not more frustrating than the Whites, but we on a "just finished the Whites" high and are trudging onward.  Today's hiking was pretty straight forward, or I should say up.  We got a later start than we expected, so only got in 4miles going up and over Mt. Hayes.  We found a nice spot near a stream and set up camp for the night.

Monday 10 November - Today was another straight forward day of hiking.  We trudged up and over Cascade Mountain and Wocket Ledge and set up camp at the Gentian Pond Shelter.

 Cute little paw prints we saw along the way.


A beautiful Red-headed Woodpecker stopped by to say hi.


Tuesday 11 November - Today we were greeted by rugged southern Maine.  The climb up Mt Success and down to Carlo Col Shelter was quite the trek.  In fact, it was the last straw for Mom.
 Hendo trudging up Mt. Success.


 Hendo trudging up Mt Success, Are we there yet??


The trail suddenly came to a halt at the base of this wall of granite.  There was no way around, we had to go up.  The fact that it was covered in ice was not an issue, even without the ice there was no real steps or foot holds to get yourself up.  I took off my pack and was able to shimmy/wedge myself up ontop and then pulled up my pack and Mom's pack using our bear line and carribeener.  I was not happy with the AMC or ATC.  Situations like this are just ridiculous to me, there was no hiking, this was mountain climbing and I do not see how it adds to the experience of hiking the AT.
 Hendo pulling up the backpacks.


 Hendo pulling up packs


 Hendo's Mom begins the shimmy/wedging up to the top.


 We think this is a Woodcock or Spruce Grouse.  It hopped across the trail and stopped for a while to say hi.


Hendo's Mom and Hendo at the ME/NH state line


Carlo Col Shelter, in the cold weather we set up our tent inside.

Wed 12 November - The weather was crappy so we zeroed at the shelter.

Thursday 13 November -  Mom's shoulder was hurting her from the rugged hiking on Tuesday, so we made it to the Mahoosuc Notch trail and headed down to Success Pond Rd to get a ride into Bethel, ME.  Mom is done hiking and we are going to go get her car in Virginia and she is going to slack-pack me through the rest of the trail.

Friday 14 November - Saturday 22 November - We traveled to Virginia to get mom's car and returned to ME.  We also spent a day and a half visiting my former Sergeant Major, Sam, in Portland, ME to borrow some equipment and get advice on winter hiking in Maine, as he quite experienced.  We then rested up at Lois's house and then headed to Maine.

Sunday 23 November - Tuesday 25 November - Mom is slackpacking me in the car now.  What that means is that we have mapped out where the AT crosses roads and she drops me off in the morning with just a light daypack and I hike to the end-point where she is waiting for me in the car.  She will often park at the endpoint and walk in and meet me as I am finishing up the days hike.

Sunday 23 November - Mom joined me on Sunday as I hiked from a road crossing to the Kennebec River and back.  A ferry normally carries hikers across the river during the thru-hike season, but that ended 31 Oct, so we got on trail 3 miles from the river and hiked there and back.  It was a moderate flat hike to get me back in the groove after such a long break.
 Back on trail, some snow on the ground, sporting our blaze orange as it is hunting season up here.


 If you look closely you will see that the edges are frozen ice and the water is flowing under.


 We are very appreciative of the Maine AT Club, such a simple but much appreciated bridge.


 Ice skirts around the rocks.


 We made it to the Kennebec River, now back to the car.


Monday 24 November - Just a good day of hiking.  It rained all day, but my new used rain pants and Sam's Gortex coat kept me warm and dry.
 An unusually high AT trail sign along one of the logging roads south of Carratunk, I guess so the logging trucks can see it, haha

Tuesday 25 November - A sunny day of hiking.  Mom hung out our gear to dry and air out while I hiked



Wednesday 26 November - We heard on the radio that a snow storm was headed in on Wednesday night, so Tuesday we headed from E Flaggstaff lake where I had finished down to Mahoosuc Notch.  We got up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday and hiked in the Notch trail and hiked into and through and back out of Mahoosuc Notch.  One more box checked.  Wednesday afternoon we headed 70 miles back down to Lois's house in North Woodstock, NH to wait out the storm and celebrate Thanksgiving.
 Hendo hiking through Mahoosuc Notch


 Hendo's Mom entering Mahoosuc Notch


 Thanksgiving dinner hiker style.


Tuesday December 2 - So we held up in North Woodstock for 5 days and got studded winter tires put on the car so we can traverse the winter roads up here.  I knocked out Little Bigelow today and another snow storm is headed in so we headed down to knock out a section near Rangley and will come back and do Mt Avery after the storm.

Wednesday December 3 - This was what we woke up to this morning.  Snow tires worked great to get us out.







  




Friday, November 28, 2014

The last of The Whites

So finally Mother Nature cooperated and we were able to head back up Mt Lafayette, head across Franconia Ridge and finish up the last of the Whites.

Friday 31 Oct 2014 - Mt. Lafayette
We went trick-or-treating up Mt. Lafayette today.  We originally had to come down Lafayette via the Greenleaf and Old Bridle Trail on 18 Oct due to back weather.  We had been able to knock out some of the AT in the time between the 18th and the 31st but Mother Nature did not give us the chance to get back up Lafayette and finish the ridge until Halloween.

This is the sign that greets you as you begin your trek up to Lafayette.  A lot of reckless hikers have gotten themselves into life threatening situations and have had to be rescued because they were stupid.  We were able to answer yes to all of the above questions and continued onward and upward.


Three miles up the trail we came to Greenleaf Hut, where we had spent the night when we initially had to come down off Lafayette.  The hut was not closed for the season and they were airlifting out the supplies and equipment.


We made it!!!!  Finally Hendo and Hendo's Mom at the summitt of Mt. Lafayette.  The white stuff is Rime Ice.


Hendo on the summit of Mt Lafayette with SPC Cassavant's Memorial Stone


Hendo's Mom on the summit of Mt. Lafayette with MSgt Love's Memorial Stone


After summiting Mt. Lafayette we continued south along the AT and Franconia Ridge to Mt. Lincoln.  The trail was rather moderate and enjoyable. 
Hendo on the summit of Mt. Lincoln with SPC Cassavant's Memorial Stone.


Hendo's Mom on the summit of Mt. Lincoln with MSgt Love's Memorial Stone.

With the Franconia Ridge complete we began our decent down Liberty Springs trail to the Liberty Springs Campsite.  Liberty Springs Trail was a rather steep decent.


Hendo taking a momentary break while scooting down one of the many slabs down Liberty Springs Trail.

We spent the night at Liberty Springs campsite and then continued on down to Franconia Notch in the morning, Sat 1 Nov 2014.  On our way down Saturday morning we met this wonderful day hiker who was headed down from Mt. Liberty and graciously offered us a ride up to Lafayette Campground.  In our waiting for a break in the weather, we had previously completed the AT section from Franconia Notch to Lonesome Lake hut.  So we caught the ride to Lafayette Campground and took the 1.2 mile Lonesome Lake Hut trail up to the hut where we would continue on south over Kinsman and Moosilauke to finish the Whites.

Upon walking in the Lonesome Lake Hut Saturday evening, we were greeted by a very friendly face, Forty-four, an AT section hiker who had started at Springer Mountain and got off at Marion, VA this year.  We met Forty-four down in Tennessee.  What a crazy juxtaposition of events.  Who would have ever thought we would run into Forty-four at a hut in the Whites.  Forty-four was at Lonesome Lake Hut with his men's church group for the weekend, they are from near Beverly, MA.  It was so great to see Forty-four and we got to each like royalty.  Each year the group gets away for a weekend at one of the three huts that are open year round and have an awesome time.  This year their menu was Italian and we gladly accepted their offer to join them for dinner and drinks.  It was wonderful to catch up and share our adventures with the rest of the group.  They asked me to get up and give a presentation on our hike and my raising awareness for Stop Soldier Suicide.  The men were very receptive and shocked by the veteran suicide statistics and surprised to learn of the number of veterans there were in their group.  It was an awesome evening.  Sunday 2 Nov we enjoyed breakfast with the guys and a brief devotional service and bid them farewell as they headed on home.  The weather was snowy with high winds, so we just zeroed at the hut.
Hendo's Mom, Forty-four and Hendo at Lonesome Lake Hut


Forty-four's church group


While at Lonesome Lake Hut we looked through the archived hut logs to see if Earl Shaffer or Granny Gatewood had signed in.  To our pleasant surprise Granny Gatewood had stopped by Lonesome Lake Hut and signed in during her second NOBO AT thur-hike in 1957.
Granny Gatewood's signature in the 1957 Lonesome Lake Hut Log.


Monday 3 November 2014 - The weather broke and we were out the door to conquer the Kinsmans.  The next to the last big challenge of the Whites.  There is lots of talk of how treacherous the climb up the north side of the Kinsmans is, but we didn't have any major problems.  There was lots of ice on the trail, but with our Kahtoola Micro-spikes on we trudged along with no major problems.  Hiking up the south side of the Kinsmans it was quite evident who the Appalachian Mountain Club is really worried about appeasing.  The trail from the parking lot up the north side of the Kinsmans to the South Kinsman and North Kinsman summits was a great hiking trail.  This is the trail which all of the day hikers use to get up and back down the mountains.  As soon as we crossed over the summit of South Kinsman and began hiking down the trail turned into a treacherous mess.  It is quite obvious that the AMC could care less about the trail that only we AT hikers utilize.  And this isn't the only location we have experienced this "Wrong side of the tracks/wrong side of the trail" phenomanon.  I am quite disappointed in the AMC and ATC, the presidents of both should be ashamed to have their associations names associated with this section of trail.  We spent Monday night at Eliza Brook Shelter.

Hendo with SPC Cassavant's Memorial Stone on South Kinsman


Hendo's Mom with MSgt Love's Memorial Stone on South Kinsman.


Even the bears are appalled with the trail conditions going down South Kinsman.  We followed bear tracks from the Summit of North Kinsman to the Summit of South Kinsman, but before heading down the crappy trail on South Kinsman, the bear was smart enough to turn off and bushwack cross country.
Bear Tracks headed up South Kinsman


Hendo's Mom headed down the supposed "trail" on the southside of South Kinsman


Tuesday 4 November 2014 - Today hiked from Eliza Brook Shelter to New Hampshire Highway 112, where we hitched a ride in North Woodstock and spent the night at Trail Angel Lois's house.  The trail started out pretty good until we passed Reel Brook Trail, which is the trail day and weekend hikers use to get to Eliza Brook Shelter.  After the Reel Brook Trail turn-off the trail again went to crap, because the AMC could care less about we AT hikers.  It was dark when we got to NH 112, but had a car drive by and stop within 10 minutes of arriving.  Unfortunately, the car was a county sheriff and he just stopped to say hello and left us standing there.  Luckily, 10 minutes later a gentleman stopped and graciously gave us a ride 6 miles into town.  Once in town we called Lois and she gladly offered to let us stay at her house.  We spent Tuesday night at Lois's and zeroed at her place on Wednesday 5 Nov 2014.  Thursday 6 November 2014, Lois dropped us off at the northern base of Mt. Moosilauke and we set out to complete the Whites.


Thursday 6 November 2014 - Today we polished off the Whites.  Like the Kinsmans we had heard horror stories of the hike up the north side of Moosilauke.  For us the hike was steep, but not overly treacherous or dangerous, we were pleasantly surprised.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo beginning our hike up Moosilauke, the lower section of the cascades as our backdrop.


The middle cascades heading up Moosilauke.


And the upper cascades.


Hendo trudging up Moosilauke.  It wasn's treacherous, but it was definitely steep.


Hendo's Mom enjoying the block stairs and re-bar railing.  Obviously catering to the day-hikers.  These could be used in so many other locations along the trail.


WHAT!?!?!?  Are those stairs/ladder...obviously a day-hiker amenity.


An amazing view of Franconia Ridge, the far left ridgeline, from inside Beaver Brook Shelter.


And we did it!!!!  The last of the Whites were slayed.  Hendo's Mom and Hendo at the summit of Mt. Moosilauke.


We spent Friday 7 November and Saturday 8 November zeroing and re-supplying at Lois's house in North Woodstock.  Saturday 8 November, Lois took us to run some errands and dropped us back off in Gorham, NH so we could begin our trek north into southern Maine to complete the section we had jumped over to come down and compelte the Whites.