Trail Journal

Date: August 18 2000
Trail Day: 79
Miles Today: 0
Location: Thistle Hill Shelter
Section Mile: AT 457
ECT Mile: 1150

As I have enough time to cover the miles to meet Suriyan I decided to take a O day today. My first O at a shelter. It was very relaxed. Town O's are hectic as you have to run errands.

I slept till 10 AM and then read a book. Dagan showed up at noon and we talked. I took a photo of him. He has another 2 weeks on the trail after which he goes to California and then to Israel. I may not see him again. Around 1 PM, 3 north bounders showed up - Urban Camper, Godfather and another gentleman. Godfather was hilarious. North bounders, because there are so many of them and have seen each other for a while now have a more social element in their hike. They talked about trail stuff, other north bounders and women. Godfather was very entertaining. He then left to do some more miles. We were then joined by 3 teenagers doing a 4 day hike. Nature Boy also dropped by and moved on. I thought he was ahead of me - apparently not. Towards evening Solid and a girl arrived and then came Tuba man. Tuba man carries a 30 lb Tuba and is quite a sensation.

Date: August 19 2000
Trail Day: 80
Miles Today: 22
Location: Stony Brook Shelter
Section Mile: AT 479
ECT Mile: 1172

A long mile day today. I was itching to get out. Started early and got done by about 6 PM. The north bound wave is just coming in. I am seeing about 20 north bounders a day. About a month ago it was barely 2 or 3. Saw at least 10 female thru hikers. I think I am starting to see the weaker hikers come through. Most do low miles. Many have seriously considered dropping out. Some have actually done so and returned. I personally dont see the point of doing the AT if you dont enjoy it. It is just too much time and effort to spend on something you dont like. That's what a job is for. At least there you get paid. Here you just waste 6 months of your life - better do something else.

Also a note on the thru hiker caste system. Thru hikers rank above section hikers, who rank above weekend hikers, who rank above day hikers. At the bottom you have the scouts. No one will admit to this but that's the way it is. Superiority among thru-hikers is determined by number of miles covered. Near the 100 mile wilderness the north bounders have completed about 2000 miles while the south bounder, only about 100. At this stage it is common for many north bounders to not even talk to south bounders. My case is slightly different. When I first tell them I am a south bounder - I am scum. If I then tell them that I started at Cap Gaspe then I can almost hear myself being re-evaluated and placed in a higher category.

At this stage the south bounders have covered about 475 miles but most importantly they have crossed the hardest 200 mile section, so they get treated better by the north bounders. Its funny to see the ego dance when a north bounder meets a south bounder. On the positive side this crap occurs only at the first meeting. By the second or third meeting the mileages become immaterial.

The terrain now has become rolling hills, so I think I will be averaging 20 again. Mt Mousalake is certainly where things change. Now the climbs are short and gentle.

A magnificent View

Date: August 20 2000
Trail Day: 81
Miles Today:
Location: Near Cooper Lodge
Section Mile: AT 471
ECT Mile: 1164

Last night's dinner was good. It was noodles that was hot and spicy. I got it at the Co-op grocery store in Hanover. Its the best store I have seen so far. I was also able to buy Indian food - Palak Paneer, Vegetable Korma and Bombay Potatoes. All of them are somewhat heavy but delicious.

Started around 10:30 AM as I did not have many miles to cover. Nature Boy stopped by the shelter. He said he has not had much sleep in the past 2 days. The north bounders were loud, he said. I left a little after he did. I passed him about an hour or two later. He said he was going to go into Rutland and take a O day to recover and clear his head. We all need this once in a while.

Today's section also overlaps with the Long Trail. The climb up Killington seemed to go on forever. It was also towards the end. That always makes it look longer. Several day hikers headed to US 4 asked me how far US 4 was.

US 4 is a very busy road and can be heard for miles. They were frustrated because they could hear the road traffic but the road would never appear.

Also met Belcher and Swamp Eagle. Swamp Eagle is hiking from Key West to Cap Gaspe and is suported by his wife driving their motor home.

Also met the most beautiful woman on my hike so far. She was model beautiful and talked freely. She was a day hiker and was out with 2 others. For some reason she kept fidgeting with her wedding ring.

I had planned on staying at the Cooper lodge, which is a shelter on top of Mt. Killington but Belcher told me all the windows had the glass missing and it was very windy and cold up there. So I set up my tarp about a mile earlier. Set it up as a lean-to. Middle of the night I realized that if the wind blew into my tarp it swelled up like a sail and offered no over head protection from the rain. I would have been in a pickle had it rained last night. Talking about pickles, I would like to have Indian buttermilk rice and mango pickles - Ahh !

Well 13 miles tomorrow and another 5 the day after and I meet Suriyan. Most probably take 2 O day's off and do the usual eat like a pig, drink like a fish and sleep like a log routine.

Date: August 21 2000
Trail Day: 82
Miles Today: 13
Location: Near Vt 103
Section Mile: AT 484
ECT Mile: 1177

Last night was cold. I was in my full thermal underwear. I have completely missed summer this year. When I was in Florida and Vivek was helping me move we were sweating like pigs. But once I got to Canada it was cold. This summer in New England and Canada has been cold and wet. Talking of wet it has not rained in the past 3 days. I was afraid I would have moss grow over me and slugs run all over me - its been raining so much. Today I actually saw dry ground. I think I have forgotten how to walk on it.

I had a short climb further to Killington peak where there is a shelter. My hands were so numb I could barely write. The climb down was easy. I am always amazed that a climb that can take 4 hours can be descended in 45 minutes - under the right conditions of course.

I got to Rt 103. I had been told of a Whistle Stop Restaurant about 0.5 miles west of the trail. Went there and had lunch there - 16 $. Canada is starting to look cheap about now. Called Karen and confirmed that I will meet Suriyan at Vt 140. Walked a little further west and got a 6 pack of Miller High Life beer. The champagne of beers - the can says. Nothing but the best for me :)

Walked another half a mile on the trail and set up my tarp. This is my best tarp set-up so far. I had to take a photograph. The place where I tented was beautiful. Usually I end up tenting in God awful places. This one was different. I couldn't have designed it better. Large trees and soft level ground.

I had picked up a novel called Greenwich Killing Time mainly because it said Raunchy, Violent and Funny. I thumbed through the whole book but found no titillating parts. I decided to read it anyway. Its turning out to be quite a good book.

Saw wild life after a long time. Saw one moose on the trail. Also when I was reading in my tarp a deer walked by.

Date: August 22 2000
Trail Day: 83
Miles Today: 6
Location: Route Vt 140
Section Mile: AT 490
ECT Mile: 1183

Yesterday was also my first on trail magic experience. There was one place on the trail with a case of Sprite and a note. Another place had sodas floating in a stream. It feels so good to have a soda on the trail. All the thru hikers seemed happy and content !

Covered 6 miles to Vt 140. where I meet Suriyan. Met Sherpa north bound. Churi showed up 15 minutes later. We went to Rutland, did laundry and had lunch. When hiking long distance the foot starts repairing and healing at any rest periods. So it becomes slightly stiff and sore. So I usually limp along after sitting in a car. Its funny to limp to a store after just climbing several mountains. Churi got a kick out of my limping.

Date: August 23 2000
Trail Day: 84
Miles Today: 0
Location: Rutland
Section Mile: AT 490
ECT Mile: 1183

We spent today at the library and got info on how to make alcohol burning stoves off of the internet. We made 1 and tested it out. Yesterday I had made one with 2 beer cans. I had used rubbing alcohol as fuel with poor results. But today we bought methanol and the stove worked well. Its slower than the stove I have now but it is much lighter and more convenient. Spent most of the day eating. It is raining again and I am glad to be not hiking today.

Date: August 24 2000
Trail Day: 85
Miles Today: 0
Location: Rutland
Section Mile: AT 490
ECT Mile: 1183

Another O day today. Wasted money watching Nutty Professor - II. Made another alcohol burning stove using beer cans. This one seems to be the best performing. We also went to the AT and took some shots 1 2. Other than that a relaxing day.

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