Date: August 3 2000
Trail Day: 64
Miles Today: 14
Location: Carlo Col Shelter
Section Mile: AT 281
ECT Mile: 962
Had a very comfortable night in my tarp. I am starting to get the hang of it. Its more comfortable than the lean-to's because the ground is covered with leaves and offers some cushions. I do not carry a sleeping pad.
Today was a low mileage day - 14 miles but very hard ones. There was a 4 mile climb out of Grafton Notch, a run along the ridge and then a sharp descent. The descent is called Mahoosuc arm and is quite well known. Then comes the Mahoousuc Notch. Its a jumble of large boulders strewn in a valley. Its like a puzzle. You climb, scramble or crawl any way you can. There are some instances where the trail runs through caves. This is a deep valley and the sun does not shine in some places. Its cold as a freezer and there is ice in some of the deep holes. The notch is only one mile and I enjoyed it a lot.
Then came a climb back to Goose Eye Mountain. On one of the peaks the trail does an almost about turn. Not realizing this I continued on another trail which ended abruptly. I turned back and could not remember which of the trails I had come by. Picked one, walked some, saw marks made by my walking stick in some bogs and headed the other way. I met Sunny, a north bounder. I made sure I was headed in the right direction. It started raining and I slipped and fell. Decided to slow down. I got to the shelter very tired. This was a very tough day.
One of the scouts who was at the shelter had the following plan to make the AT better - Tax Maine till they secede, then move the end point to New Hampshire, thus improving the trail. Maine is a very hard section with lots of ups and downs.
It rained again at night.
Date: August 4 2000
Trail Day: 65
Miles Today: 16
Location: The Barn, Gorham
Section Mile: AT 297
ECT Mile: 978
Last night I became very thirsty and decided to go to the nearby spring to get water. I couldn't find my way at all in the darkness even with my flashlight and decided to go back to the shelter.
In the morning the scouts were giving away all their left over food as they were winding up their hike. I got a bagel and Gatorade mix.
Today's hike was fairly easy. I crossed into New Hampshire - my fourth state. I took a photo at the border. One of the ledges had tons of blueberries. I spent an hour picking and eating them - delicious.
Got a ride into Gorham and had 2 feet of sub, 2 whoppers and 2 helpings of apple pie for dinner. Trail appetite has definitely kicked in.
Date: August 5 2000
Trail Day: 66
Miles Today: 8
Location: Imp campsite
Section Mile: AT 305
ECT Mile: 986
Had a good night's sleep. Picked up my mail drop. I had asked Vivek to mail me my external pack. I am switching back to an external, as it is lighter. I will be getting rid of about 4 lbs with this. The mail was there. I am always relieved to find mail. It was missing one of the pins. I could not find the right sized pin in any of the stores. So I bought a bolt with a lock nut instead. Also bought a Hiker's companion. It is a book that describes the facilities along the way. I had ordered one from Wingfoot but it never arrived. Also broke down and bought a pair of Leki hiking poles. They are 120 for the pair but I think well worth it. Walking with 2 poles is definitely easier. So in the past few days I have switched bags, shoes and walking sticks. The first day in my cross trainer shoes I had twisted my ankles thrice - once quite badly. The next day it was twice. The third and fourth days I had no problems. I think I have adjusted my walking style. I have stubbed my toes many times though.
Today was a very light day. Low miles with only very small sections that were steep. I did not feel well. Felt light headed and woozy. So decided to do only a short section and get some sleep.
Date: August 6 2000
Trail Day: 67
Miles Today: 16
Location: Near Auto Road
Section Mile: AT 321
ECT Mile: 1002
Red letter day today. Crossed the first 1000 mile mark. Aimed for a 19 mile day, managed a 16. The 19 looked possible till the trail made a sharp descent into Pinkham notch. It was extremely slow going. There is a visitor's center here with all kinds of tourists and "cool" people wearing bandanas, carrying back packs etc but none of them knew where the AT was. I wonder what they were all doing.
Saw no thru-hikers today. Either there were none or they were clean shaven or they were slack-packing. I think about half the thru-hikers are slack packing this and the Maine section.
The views 1 2 3 here are excellent. Most of the trail runs on the ridges. The layout is similar to what I saw in Mt. Logan, where the range comes to an end to the South. Here the end is not as abrupt because the mountains are very high. The weather has been great today also. I count myself lucky to have such good weather in the Whites. Tomorrow I head to Mt. Washington and hike a 14 mile section that is above the tree line. I am also feeling much better than yesterday.
Last night I also met Class 5 who is hiking from Florida to Cap Gaspe. He and his brother started together, but his brother found a girl friend along the way and dropped out. Class 5 was very upset. The troubles women cause :-)
Other thru-hikers that I have met recently are No Fuel yesterday and Hokie Flash 3 days ago. No Fuel is originally from India. I had heard of him from Buckeye Bob with whom I had summitted Katahdin. Also heard about him from Sea Otter. No Fuel got his name because he started the AT but forgot to get fuel.
Hokie Flash is another fast hiker aiming to complete in 94 days. Surprisingly, it is the fast hikers like him and Sea Otter with whom I have had the most extensive conversations.
When I first started the AT most northbound thru-hikers I met were either very fast or started very early. The crowd seems to be now coming in - March and April starters.
I am in my tarp again tonight. I think I am getting the hang of this. I also weighed my pack - 23 lbs with 3 days of food and a little water. Quite good.
Date: August 7 2000
Trail Day: 68
Miles Today: 13
Location: Lakes of the Clouds Hut
Section Mile: AT 334
ECT Mile: 1015
I wrote my journal too soon last night. As soon as I was done it started drizzling. After I was done with dinner and went to sleep it started raining. In the middle of the night I realized that my sleeping bag was getting wet. Not a good sleep. I got up in the morning and looked over my tarp set-up. Found some obvious errors which I need to rectify the next time.
The day started out fairly easily. I climbed on to the ridge quite easily but as I kept gaining altitude it started to fog up and it started raining. Its very rocky once it gets to the top. About 14 miles is above the tree line including Mt. Washington. Progress then became horribly slow. There was a place where I took a bad fall. There were a group of 4 guys coming the oppposite way, it broke my cocentration and I ended up face down, backpack on top. The guys helped me up. I tried walking a few steps but the pain was quite bad in my knee. I then had to sit down for 10 minutes or so. I cheered myself up with some cream cookies. The pain then went away and I continued. The climb up Washington was very slow. It was extremely windy and foggy. I took a shot here. Visibility was barely 10 ft or so and my right lens of my glasses would fog up constantly. Got to the summit (elevation about 6300 ft). It was horrible weatherwise and I was just eager to get the summit behind me. I wont be reaching this altitude till I enter the Smokies in Georgia.
There was a visitors center. I bought 3 sandwiches and 2 muffins and wolfed them down. The place closed a few minutes after I had finished. I looked outside at the bad weather and almost felt bad for myself for having to head out again.
The hike after that was actually easier and I got to a hut. The huts here have a work for stay option for thru-hikers, but they were filled. They allowed me to sleep in the dining room for 6 $ and gave me left over food - I was glad. Nomad showed up about an hour after I did. He had taken a 0 day in Gorham so we are hiking together again.
Today was a short mileage day but the mileage was tough. I dont think I will be able to cross 20 again till I get beyond Mt. Mousalake.
Date: August 8 2000
Trail Day: 69
Miles Today: 12
Location: Johnson Motel, Twin Mountains
Section Mile: AT 346
ECT Mile: 1027
A fairly easy and short day today. We were sleeping in the dining room of the hut and had to get up when they started setting up the table for breakfast. I thus got an early start. Towards the end I heard the clink of hiking poles and saw Nomad come down the trail. He can almost run downhill. He had waited for me at the Mitzpak hut but I had gone by without stopping. This is quite normal for me. I go through a lot of towns and shelters without stopping.
We got to US 302 together and got a ride from a young couple. They actually came back to pick us up. It was cramped in the car with us and two dogs but we made to the AMC hostel somehow. They also gave us a box of blueberries - delicious. The hostel was closed and we met a lady who was headed to Twin Mountain. She was with her husband and the car was packed. We squeezed in somehow and rode to Twin Mountain. We got to a hotel and got a room. The manager agreed to drop us off at the trail tomorrow. We bathed, got beer and had pizza in a restaurant. Nomad told me about his book - very interesting. I hope it does very well.
Date: August 9 2000
Trail Day: 70
Miles Today: 16
Location: Near Galehead Hut
Section Mile: AT 362
ECT Mile: 1045
Mike the motel owner/manager gave us a ride to a breakfast place. Nice but slightly expensive. I had eggs benedict. He then gave us a ride to the trail. The hike was fairly easy. It had rained last night so it was wet and boggy everywhere. However it was not slippery so we flew through most of the flat sections. The climbs were tiring but not bad. I am almost tempted to say that the trail is getting easier. Most of the big hills are now out of the way. In a couple of days we will cross Mt. Mousalake after which the trail should become easier. The past ten days or so have been very difficult.
Met Warren Doyle. He is kind of an AT legend. This is his 12th thru hike. He held the record for the fastest AT hike in 1973. I think it was around 60 days. Quite amazing. Meeting people like him and Nimblewill Nomad is quite inspiring. I hiked with renewed vigor after meeting Warren.
We got to the Gale head hut but could not get get work for stay. They gave us some soup and soft drinks. We spent a couple of hours there. Met Roots and Tennessee - thru hiking north. Roots (a female) started out in Virginia on a 2 day hike and just kept on going. She is a little short on cash and does work for stay wherever possible. I told her of Horsefeather Inn in Oquossuc where they were looking for hikers to do some chores. Sometime later Digger showed up. I first met Digger in Gorham and have seen him several times since. He is from Israel and is hiking till September after which he will go to California for a while.
Digger, Nomad and I then headed out to find a camping spot. The AMC has set up rules that you cannot camp a quarter mile near a hut, road or trail. I think it is a way of making sure that everyone has to stay in a hut and they can rake in the money. They charge 60$ for food and a bunk bed. They are always full. The food I have eaten is good by back packer standards (we will eat just about anything), but for the price the visitors pay it is horrible. Apparently AMC still makes a loss. With a monopoly in such a prime tourist area, how they fail to make a profit is beyond me. I can only conclude that either a good chunk of the money is being swindled or it is being managed extremely poorly. I am willing to bet a private company would be raking it in.
Anyway, we found a place to set up camp in the middle of a dense pine stand. Digger decided to continue on to the next shelter. I am in my tarp again but laid out much better. If it rains tonight and I remain dry I will know for sure.