Trail Journal

Date: July 27 2000
Trail Day: 57
Miles Today: 18
Location: Horn's Pond Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 183
ECT Mile: 864

Today we start probably the toughest 200 mile section in the AT. All four of us started hiking about 8 AM. We got to Little Bigelow Mountain at about 11 AM. The views were terrific. The next climb was Bigelow mountain. After numerous false summits I finally reached the peak. It had started raining by then. It was very windy, cold and foggy. It was almost surreal. I could also understand why so many people die in the mountains. The weather is unpredictable and severe. There is also no place to hide in case of lightning. I crossed Avery peak very quickly. Bigelow is M shaped. The second peak was West peak. There were some scouts there, so I asked them to take a photo of me.

On the way down the rocks were slippery and wet. I slowed down quite a bit. Reached Horn's pond Lean-to and was joined by Houdini. Nomad has most probably continued another 6 miles to Stratton while Lurch is camped on the other side of Bigelow. I may not see him again.

We are at an elevation of 3500 feet and you can see the clouds go by. There is a caretaker here by the name of Sonya - pretty young girl. Says she lives in her car.

Date: July 28 2000
Trail Day: 58
Miles Today: 18
Location: Spaulding Mountain Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 201
ECT Mile: 882

The hike from the lean-to to Maine 27 was fairly easy. Saw two scout groups. Got a ride fairly easily into Stratton. Called Kumar - he is usually very difficult to get a hold of - because the phone company keeps disconnecting his phone. Bought groceries and had lunch at a diner. The waitress had the trail name - Bucket Lady. She said it was because she would finish off any left over food. Mailed a film roll and journal entries to Suriyan and got a ride back to the trail.

After the meal the going was very slow and sluggish. I also chatted with some north bounders. The Crocker mountains were a steep climb. Today was slightly better, weather wise - cloudy but no rain. The peak conditions were very different from yesterday. It was very calm. Then there was a sharp climb down and a sharp climb up to Spaulding mountain. The profile here is horrible although the worst is still yet to come. Map 7 seems to be the worst.

I was trying to make it to the Spaulding Lean-to. It started to get dark but I continued on. Its amazing how your eyes can still see. I did not trip or fall anywhere. It was quite easy. It was foggy and dark everywhere. I could also understand why hikers walk at night sometimes. It has an atmosphere all its own. Finally made it to the Lean-to.

A couple already here, gave me some soup. I made some sandwiches and went to sleep. Today's shelter is crowded. 7 sleeping here with 2 tented. I think it will get worse as the north bounder crowd starts to come through.

Date: July 29 2000
Trail Day: 59
Miles Today: 17
Location: Piazza Rock Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 218
ECT Mile: 899

Today's hike was extremely difficult. I had planned on reaching the next shelter but as I got to this one, I knew I had absolutely no energy. There were no views as it was fogged in. About 3 miles of it is above tree line. I could hear distant thunder and rushed through the ridge. I met three people who are collecting 4000 footers - climbing all peaks higher than 4000 feet.

I got to the shelter and ate my food. The food tasted good for a change. I have also started carrying bread and cheese. They are extremely satisfying. I have picked up the food tips from Nimblewill Nomad.

Date: July 30 2000
Trail Day: 60
Miles Today: 15
Location: Featherhorse Inn
Section Mile: AT 233
ECT Mile: 914

My shoes are now coming apart. I have to get new ones before I hit the Mahoosuc range which is supposed to be pretty tough. I don't want the shoes to completely fail in the middle of a mountain. I am also going to experiment with lighter cross training aerobic shoes. I have read that 1 lb of shoe weight is equivalent to several pounds of pack weight. I am also going to hike with two walking sticks. It gives more stability. Most finishing north bounders use Leki poles. I don't want to pay 150 $ for those, so I will use my ski pole and a stick.

Today's hike was fairly easy. I got to SR 17 but had a hard time finding a ride. I walked a little but realizing that the town was 11 miles away picked a stretch of highway and sat down and tried to hitch hike. Here's how the chances of a ride work. If it is a car, the chances are poor. If it is any other vehicle but has something fancy like large tires, souped up engine etc - no good. Tourists with shiny vehicles - no good. Luxury vehicles like BMW, Jaguars - forget it. If it is a rickety vehicle and you realize the driver has 4 teeth missing when he smiles, you've got a good shot.

I got a chance to observe tourists. SR 17 runs besides a mountain and you have beautiful views at places. Here's how tourists "visit nature". They drive along, brake suddenly when they see a scenic spot and pull over. Fat people roll out of cars. The children run here and there shrieking. Things are pointed at, photos are taken. Fat people get back in their car and drive off. I thought I had seen it all when 2 cars drove up and they did not even get out of their cars for the view !

Anyway, I got a ride after about 1 hour. Dave was also at the inn. He was at the shelter last night. He is a chemist and is from Michigan. I will be doing a zero mile day tomorrow and get a ride to Rangeley to buy the shoes.

Date: July 31 2000
Trail Day: 61
Miles Today: 0
Location: Featherhorse Inn
Section Mile: AT 233
ECT Mile: 914

Had a good breakfast and got a ride into Rangeley. It was a nice day and Rangeley is a decent sized town. Talked to Vivek and Suriyan. Checked email and got a ride back. Watched some movies on the VCR here. A good day of rest.

Date: August 1 2000
Trail Day: 62
Miles Today: 17
Location: Hall Mountain Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 250
ECT Mile: 931

Got a late start today. The trail dropped from SR 17 and then climbed onto the Bemis range. Once on top it ran the ridge. It had numerous peaks - First peak, Second peak, Third peak, Bemis mountain, Elephant mountain and Old blue mountain. Then it dropped all the way back to a valley, went up and down Moody mountain and climbed again to Hall mountain lean-to. By the time I came to Moody mountain I was tired. It became dark and started raining. I managed to get to the lean-to and startled the occupants.

One of them was Little Bit. She has been on the trail for 5 months and has completed less than half the trail and is now flip-flopping. Among AT hikers there is a saying - Thru hiking is 20 % physical and 80 % mental. I fully believe this. Little Bit had the physical portion down pat. She has a 15 lbs bag and is fit. However, she has lost the mental focus and is now having a hard time. She is on the verge of dropping out. Many teenagers seem to be having this problem. They start of in groups, do low mileages, take numerous 0 days. Then people start to drop out and the remaining people have a hard time. This was the case with Lurch who I met about 5 days ago. I hope both of them complete the hike.

First day of experimenting with my aerobics shoes. It does not have ankle support and I twisted my ankle thrice - once quite badly. Other than that it feels extremely comfortable and has no break-in period.

It rained heavily all night. The roof is made of metal and the rain drops make a big racket. It was also a very dark night.

Date: August 2 2000
Trail Day: 63
Miles Today: 17
Location: Grafton Notch
Section Mile: AT 267
ECT Mile: 948

Got a somewhat late start again. I have not yet adjusted to the shorter days. When I was in Quebec the sun would be shining brightly by 5:30 AM and then it would be lights out at 10 PM. Not so now.

Today's hike was very hard. In Hindi - "Phat Kae Hath Main Aa Gayee". The climb up Bald Pate Mountain was long and gruelling. Once on top, it was not so bad. There was a small dip and a climb back to West peak and then a huge drop to the valley. I decided not to stay at the Lean-to as I could not have covered as many miles as I wanted. Besides, I need to gain experience with my tarp and I like to camp as opposed to sleep in a shelter.

Also met Nomad again. It was a pleasure to see him again. He had pulled forward when I took a 0 day.

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