Monthly Archives: August 2012

Marathons vs the AT

As many of you know, I run marathons in my ‘real’ life. I have done 26 marathons in 25 different states, plus DC. I have found it interesting to compare and contrast the marathon with the Appalachian Trail.

Similarities

– need to be mentally tough

– I picture runs from home when I am 5 miles out from the finish of a marathon. I try to feel like I am just starting out and then the mileage doesn’t seem so bad. I do the same in hiking

– I try to break the distance into small chunks of time, like I will go this far until I take a break while hiking or the marathon is just a little over 5 miles 5 times.

– I get butterflies before starting marathons and coming off of zero days

– I often ask myself why I am doing this

– I psych myself up for the amount of miles that I am doing. I can do 20 miles if I am prepared, but if I am only doing 3, I don’t like to go farther.

– I don’t sleep well the night before a marathon (I haven’t slept really well since I started the trail)

– I need to warm up when starting each day

– I see people ahead of me in the register and wish I was where they are, in a marathon you see the leaders during an out and back

– I see people going south on the at and am glad I don’t have to do that part again. 🙂

– I hike and run alone most of the time.

– both can seem like a job at times.

Differences

– it takes longer to do a mile while hiking

– straight roads vs curvy trails and a lot of elevation change

– I go for time instead of miles when hiking

– running is over quicker

– miles are based on shelters and places to stay

– I max out at 50 miles per week when training for a marathon, I max out at 100 miles when hiking

– marathon training takes about 4 months, the trail will take me 6

– I only run for max 3 hours a day, hiking pushes 12 hours some days

UpdAte

I made it over mt Washington and the whites are kicking my butt. More updates soon!

Moosilauke

Moosilauke was the first mountain that we had heard was really difficult. Going northbound would be long but gradual on the way up and going down would be a bear. I mean, it was really steep. The Troverts, TallOaf, Castaway and I decided to slack pack. I called Alison and she came down and was able to take all of our stuff from the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel to the Carriage Motel in North Woodstock where we would end up spending two nights. This would mean 3 nights in a row with shower. Woot!

 

The hike up wasn’t too bad. We were exchanging stories and having a good time. We went up to the south peak and we could see up to the north peak. Oh, we aren’t there yet! The rest of the hike up went on a carriage road so it was a bit more smooth. When we got to the top the views were amazing! They were 360 degrees. We kept looking out as we were climbing and saying we were so HIGH!. Moosilauke is 4810 feet. This is the highest we’ve been in a long time, like the smokies. That was so long ago! I also realized that I will need to start wearing sunscreen because we are above tree line for part of the day. My scalp got sunburned today. And this is all after a 48 degree morning.

view from the top

 

The way down was indeed steep, although Tall Oaf and I agree that going down Blood Mountain was harder. There were wood pieces on the rock and rebar to help you get down. I wasn’t sure how these wood pieces were attached. Were they glued or cemented? I couldn’t tell. I was just glad that they stayed put when I stepped on them. My knees were protesting a bit as I was going down, but all in all my legs held up well. The steps down where beside a cascading waterfall which was beautiful.

 

Wooden steps down the mountain

 

All in all it was an amazing day. We were so glad that it wasn’t raining! We hope it will be nice for the rest of the whites. If the rest of the whites are like this I will LOVE them!

Short and Sweet and Greybeard (and Bill)

As we were walking to Norwich VT we came across a mailbox that had some trail magic by it. I was checking it out (they had bagels and watermelon and some brownies) and I noticed that there were some people in the yard working on stacking some wood. They came over to me and introduced themselves as Short and Sweet and Greybeard. Short and Sweet reminded me of Denise Nickel. So full of life and generous! They offered a proposition: help us stack wood and we will feed you lunch. Hmm. I thought about it a bit and as Castaway and Deadeye came we decided that we would like to do some upper body work instead of just using our legs. There was quite a pile of wood to stack. Bad Penny helped for a while too. We worked for less than an hour to finish the job and Short and Sweet was good on her word.

We had a lovely lunch of a noodle casserole, bread and banana bread that had chocolate chips in it. Yum. We think we got the better end of the deal. 🙂

As we were eating we were talking about doing laundry in Hanover. Short and Sweet was informing us that they didn’t know of any laundry there. WHAT!!?? No laundry? That is one of the most important reasons to go to town.

funny sign

We did find that there was a wash, dry, fold but there was a ten pound minimum. In a world where every ounce counts, people have 2 pound tents and 1 pound sleeping bags, I don’t know any hiker that has 10 pounds of clothes along. Even if 5 of us would put our laundry together we still wouldn’t have ten pounds. So that was out.

 

Short and Sweet and Greybeard offered to do our laundry for us and bring it to us a few miles down the road in Hanover. Wow, that is so cool! They even gave me clothes to wear for my hike to Hanover while my clothes were being washed. These are true trail angels! They had section hiked the trail and they are lucky to live on the trail and can give back. I would love to do that sometime as well.

Bill is another person that lives close to the trail and he lets people camp in his back yard and gives ice cream bars and has soda for sale for the hikers. He was actually on vacation when we got there (Troverts, Castaway, Deadeye, TallOaf and Wheezy), but his neighbor came and gave us ice cream. As we were getting ready for bed Bill came home and was so excited there were hikers there. He really enjoys the hikers and hearing their stories. He is an older gentleman and I hope that there are others to help take his place when he can’t do it anymore.

This is the same way across most of the trail. The tried and true trail angels are getting older and I hope some continues what they started. I also have noticed that people that I come in contact with on the trail are just so excited about what I am doing. This helps me get excited again too. I love hearing their enthusiasm.

Hanover

The New Hampshire/Vermont border is in the middle of a bridge over the Connecticut River. I can’t describe the feeling of finally getting to New Hampshire. I was pretty excited, almost giddy. But, I was also nervous. I had been hearing about New Hampshire and the Whites and how gorgeous and difficult they are. This marks the fact that there are only 2 states left on this journey. I have gone over 1700 miles and have less than 500 miles left. Wow.

 

 

Hanover is kind of the Gateway to the Whites as it is just on the other side of the VT/NH border. Hanover is a lovely town, and of course very touristy like all other New England towns that I have come to. There were lots of people on the sidewalk as I got there on a Saturday. The road walk was quite warm into the town. I heard it was the longest road walk of the trail. It is amazing to me that there can be such a difference in temperature between in the woods and in town.

Hanover caters to hikers very well. As a hiker you can get FREE donuts at a bakery, a slice of pizza at one of the local pizzerias and a snickers bar from the outfitter. I only took advantage of the pizza as I didn’t want to walk around a lot more. But, as a hungry hiker most people do enjoy this town. They had a library which I did use. I hope that libraries continue to be in communities. They are so helpful!

I enjoyed Hanover. I wish I could have spent more time there, but I went to the next shelter out of town with Castaway and his brother Deadeye (who was hiking a section with Castaway). Velvet Rocks Shelter was the place to stay. I met a couple section hikers there. Interesting conversation. Some people have really deep conversations. Most of my thoughts are very simple like: what will I eat for supper or boy those trees smell good. Simple minds easily amused. 🙂

Bethany Birches

I was so ready for my next zero day in Vermont. Killington Mountain (or rather Little Killington) had gotten the best of me. I was tired. I decided that 10 days between zero days was too much. From here on out I will try to do every 7.

me, Amber and Brandon Bergey

For this particular zero I chose to stay at Bethany Birches Camp and they were willing to host me. I worked here the summer of 2002 before I came to work at Swan Lake. I also went to school with Brandon Bergey, the director at BBC at EMU. So, there were connections.

Brandon picked me up at took me back to camp and it was awesome and relaxed. We ate leftovers from the past week’s camp food and I met Sparkles (who Molly Boese goes to college with at EMU) and Pepper – two of their summer staff. They are done with camps for the season, so they were cleaning things up. Brandon’s wife Amber also made me feel at home. I is so nice to zero where I don’t have to pay for lodging and food!

cabin where I stayed when counseling

I walked the trails around camp and relived some memories from 2002. Some things have changed, but most is the same. I think Brandon and Amber are doing a fantastic job there. I really enjoyed my time relaxing.

Alison came for part of my zero day and we went to buy me new shoes. I must have tried on 7 pairs and the lady at Simon the Tanner was very patient with me. I finally got some and they were a pretty good deal. This is my 3rd pair of the trip, the only one I have had to pay for while I was out here. We also ate Chinese and got some ice cream. I had a rollo mcflurry from mcdonalds and I believe they just use chocolate and carmel and don’t actually put rollos in there. Anyone else think this?

While Alison was here we decided she would slack pack me about 10 miles the next day. I would do 5 more with my pack. The problem was that she couldn’t get to me because the road had washed out. There was little cell service for her or me and so there was about 2 hours worth of panic about how to get in touch with eachother. I was able to get a text out, but she couldn’t get it. I assumed she was having trouble and told her I would hike another 9 miles to a bigger road. I hoped she would get it and not carry my pack to the meeting spot. In the meantime she had figured out she couldn’t get to the trail and used someones land line to call me. I happened to keep my phone on and was climbing a hill so I had better reception. I was so glad we had made contact and I didn’t realize how worried I had been until we made plans. So, she picked me up at a road 19 miles total and we got a room at Quality Inn. It was really nice and I got a shower and we had an amazing breakfast in the morning. It all worked out well, but could have been much worse. I was with Castaway and Bad Penny and they would have taken care of me, but I didn’t have anything I would have needed for night if I had to stay in the woods. I did have enough snacks to make it through and treatment for my water as well. It threatened to rain and I was thinking….of course rain would be perfect right now. It’s always raining in movies when something bad happens!

And all this makes me wonder…is this what it was like before cell phones??? 🙂

 

PS – not sure how often I will be able to update this in NH. It depends on libraries in towns. As of today (August 18) I am in New Hampshire. So glad! 2 states to go!

After the long trail…

After the Long Trail splits off from the AT there are several more miles to go in VT. The nights are a bit quieter, but there are still great views. One of these days my butt got kicked by the mountains. This trail is not easy.

a ladder? really?

Fall is in the air and the sounds of the forest are getting quieter as the birds get ready to leave for the south. It is hard to believe that the leaves are starting to change because it is only the middle of August. I got my cold weather gear back. This means that my bag is now heavier than it was. So I tried to figure out ways I could make it lighter. I thought about giving up my sleeping pad, but decided against that. I did however get rid of my town clothes. Now I have to wear my rain suit when doing laundry. I will make fashion statements all over town!

nice

The last night I was on the Long Trail the person I was in the shelter with and I woke up at 10:30 to a scraping noise. We turned our headlamps on and what did we see? A porcupine! Porcupines like the sweat that comes off the hikers and gnaws on the wood that is on the bench of the shelter because that is where the hikers sit. I wasn’t sure what to do with this animal but we scared it away. I didn’t get any pictures cause I was worried about getting sprayed with needles. Nothing was damaged and the porcupine didn’t come back thankfully!

 

Lies

There are lies that hikers tell every day. Here are some that I have heard:

– it’s all downhill from here

– Virginia is flat

– Awol’s book of lies and the AT Handbook of no truth

– the water source isn’t far away

– the rocks aren’t that bad (in Pa or anywhere)

– the shelter is .1 away

– the rocks stop at the PA/NJ border

– the trail will be easier for all the tourists

– water is available at this place for free (it actually costs money)

– the terrain isn’t too steep

500 miles….left

road washed away

In 2011 hurricane Irene pounded the east coast and Vermont was really hard hit. Sections of the trail were washed away. Most of the areas have been fixed, but there was about a 2 mile stretch where the trail was still closed. As a thru-hiker it is hard to reconcile taking a detour when you are trying to do the whole trail. This particular detour had about 3 miles of road walking. After walking in the woods it is really hard to walk on the road, especially if there is a lot of traffic. Most of the thru-hikers I know decided to take their chances on the trail. I felt sneaky as I passed the ‘trail closed’ sign, but I knew I would be able to see the blazes on the trees so I would be able to find my way. I had heard that hikers had made it through safely as well.

As I was hiking I got my pole stuck in the mud and lost the tip and basket. Great! Maybe I wasn’t supposed to take this trail. I moved on anyway and Spring (a German female hiker) fashioned me a walking stick. There were a couple of places where the trail was totally washed out and one road crossing had a bridge that had been washed away. It just meant we had to cross a stream, and I didn’t even get my shoes wet. Someone had put a ladder there for us to cross. It was a very pretty area and I am glad I didn’t miss it. As for my pole I will get a replacement from Alison.

In this section of closed trail was a sign that said Katahdin 500 miles. I would have missed this had I taken the

500 miles to Katahdin!!

road. It is hard to believe that I have only 500 (all of 500!) left. I have 2.5 more days in Vermont and then I will be on to New Hampshire. (by the time you read this I will be in NH for a few days, that’s the problem with not having internet access every day!)

NOBO, SOBO, LT or FF

Long Trail sign

The first 105 miles of VT are shared with the Long Trail which goes from the MA/VT border up to

which way?

Canada. There are also people that thru-hike the LT. It was nice to have more company at the shelters. At Maine Junction the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail separate and the AT veers to the right. Both trails are marked with white blazes so if you really aren’t paying attention you could end up in Canada. There are only about 168 miles of the LT to get to Canada at that point, and way more to get to Canada on the AT. (the AT does actually go into Canada I believe)  So, if that was the plan, I’d take the Long Trail.

Because there are so many different people hiking the trail when you get to a shelter you first ask people if they are northbound or southbound and then at or lt. I was surprised that I actually met 3 new northbounders here in the past week. These are people that started way ahead of me and I am now catching up to them. I’ve also heard that the whites mess people’s schedules up so I may see people I haven’t seen since North Carolina. The trail has a way of having people meet up again.

cool rock formations

This week I also met my first flip floppers. These are people that start in Georgia and walk north for awhile, then they stop, go to Maine and start walking south. People do this because they are running out of time to finish Katahdin by October 15 or they just want to finish on an easier section like VA. I think it would be a little anticlimactic. I am glad I am hiking north. 🙂

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