Tennessee Trip

December 27 – 29, 2018

Starting up the blog again is like getting back into my gym routine.  I don’t have to, but a part of me wants to.

Anyway, the point of my trip to Tennessee was to visit Apache (Katie).  Apache has, as long as I’ve known her, suggested I come check out Tennessee, more specifically, Chattanooga and its surrounding waterfalls.  I met Apache in the Smokies on my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  She also traveled with me to a variety of hiking destinations from October 2017 to August 2018 while she lived in Maryland.

Katie during the trip was nothing, but straightforward when trying to convince me to move to Tennessee.  It was very much a running joke during the trip.  I would like something about Tennessee and she would say, “move to Tennessee.”  I wish I could share the full experience.  If only I could download the experience from my brain and share it here.  Tennessee was a beautiful state and I really would like to eventually live in Tennessee.  That being said, let me break the trip down and share what I can…

Day 0 – December 26, 2018

screenshot_2018-12-26-08-20-35Quite the long drive, but I survived off a combination of audio books, music, and bathroom breaks.  I arrived around sunset, made dinner/ate, and went out to explore Chattanooga.  We explored the pedestrian bridge which crossed over the Tennessee River, the Bluff View Art District, home the coffee shop she works at, Rembrandt’s Coffee House where we stopped for some coffee, and Coolidge Park that Apache said were the best places to see the city at night.

1226181957a_hdr

Day 1 – December 27, 2018

I was distant the first day from what I remember.  It may have been a combination of events, but it was likely that 10-hour plus drive the previous day, driving to Tennessee.  Next time, I am going to fly.  I am a person who enjoys driving, especially through country side, but now, having driven from Maryland to Tennessee and back, I’d say anything over 5 hours at once is just too much for me.

This trip, I did not have any part in planning aside from the dates we were going to take off from work, so I had no expectations, no assumptions.  When Katie took me to the first Falls, I honestly was blown away by the spectacular views of not only the intense waterfalls, but the terrain and high walls surrounding them.  The photos do not do a justice.  I recommend checking out at least one of the following waterfalls.

Fall Creek Falls – The highest waterfall, east of the Mississippi River in the United States at 256 feet.

Apache did not appreciate the amount of rain Tennessee had been getting over the past couple of days until the sight of this beast.  Here is a photo of what Apache was expecting:1227180850a_hdr

Hiking down to the base of Fall Creek Falls I felt high for lack of a better word.  I was ecstatic!  Not only were the falls stunning, the trails were too, delightful, pleasing, and even colorful during the winter of all seasons!

1227180825_hdr-01screenshot_2018-12-27-21-54-31-011227180829a_hdr-01

Next, we headed to Piney Creek Falls in the same park called, Falls Creek State Park.  This was a rather unique water fall.  Something I have never seen before, a waterfall with no visible destination, exiting underground.  On the way to this water fall, Apache mentioned that the trail to the falls is poorly managed and marked, which to be honest is strange because there is a suspension bridge that is part of the trail.  If I were alone, visiting for the first time, I personally would not go down this trial.  The bridge is super interesting, but the trail is sketchy.  Apache would disagree with me on this one.  She did not seem bothered by the trail.

On to the next destination, same park.  I am no color expert, but the color the water stood out to me between a pine green and a jade green.  I popped the color in the photos as close as I could get it to match what it was like to be there in person.  Close up, my camera can pick up the colors, but anything more than 5-feet away is toned down.  I was very much left in awe from its beauty as you can faintly tell by the way I am leaning, taking in the falls.

1227181018f_hdr-01
Cane Creek Cascades

Another beauty, across the suspension bridge you can see in the above photo of the Cane Creek Cascades leads to another falls further down the river to a look out of Cane Creek Falls.  In warmer weather, I would not mind reading a book up there.  – Insert synonym for beautiful here. –

1227181033b_hdr-01

At this point, we finished the day Apache had planned at noon.  I remember asking Apache what she did with her other friends after this point and she said, “go home.”  Sometimes even after just the first falls they’d be finished.  I am sure my mouth dropped at this moment.  I was shocked.  The waterfalls were some of the best waterfalls I have ever seen in my life!   Next, she said something along the lines of that you have to remember that the majority of people are not as conditioned and don’t care for the journey like you and I, they care more about the end result, the photo at the destination to share later with friends.  After, picking our next destination, we later started talking about how we wish we had more friends to go on hikes with and our appreciation towards one another.  I would like to take the time now and say that I am extraordinarily pleased to have met Katie and have her as a friend to go on hikes with.  Words alone don’t manifest how appreciative I feel.

With the extra time we had for the day, Apache made the call to check out the nearby Rock Island State Park, home to Twin Falls and several other small ones due to the amount of rainfall.

1227181155_hdr~2

The trail is meant to be hiked in the summer months of the year so we had to take an alternative route.  The waterfall was another unique one, it was coming out of a cave on the side of a hill.

1227181226a_hdr~3

The last waterfall of the day was one of the several waterfalls in which Katie said she has never seen before and likely would not exist without the tremendous amount of rainfall recently.  This one was also unique.  It was a waterfall that you could go around via the cave behind it.  If any one knows what the rock carrying the falls is made of, I’d like to know.  It looked like a clay like substance that then hardened to take the shape of a bridge over time, though did not feel like what I would expect hardened clay to feel like.

1227181310_hdr-01-01img_2949~2

Got back to town right around dinner and went to a dope sushi place called, “Sushi Nabe.”  Looking back, it’s not overall the best sushi place I have been to, but home to one of the best sushi rolls I have ever had:

user_scoped_temp_data_orca-image--1141015431.jpeg_1545950699754

Normally, it is served with a hot sause (that I am blanking on the name of) on top.  If you know me personally, I can not handle spicy food.  I hear it is amazing both ways, but to each their own on the sause.

The rest is a blur, but I am pretty sure we were too tired to do anything else.  Oh yeah before the sushi place we explored the city again, so I could see what the city looked like during the day.  Chattanooga is beautiful any time of the day, but at night you can really see how far the city spreads, as Apache mentioned the previous night.

Day 2 – December 28, 2018

We were both expecting nice weather, much warmer weather and not as wet.  For this reason, Apache switched plans up a little to better accommodate the itinerary.  It down poured, fortunately, while we were traveling.  As soon as we saw the running water down the trail, I could feel the lift in excitement.  I would like to say Apache felt similarly based on her expression. 😂

1228180704_hdr-01
Dat high face

This was Greeter Falls…

And this is what the falls normally looks like…

1228180713_hdr

And this is what the dope trail maintenance looks like…1228180723b_hdr-01

The next falls is a double-Decker waterfall and I don’t have a comparison photo, but Apache said the bottom falls hardly ever flows.

screenshot_2018-12-28-23-11-34-01
Boardtree Falls

This one you could go partially behind.1228180746b_hdr-01

I believe Apache said this is her favorite trail to do in the rain.  The name of trail is Greeter Trail…1228180924_hdr-01

49787686_380376966059771_3374305279024824320_n

…and we took that trail to an overlook, chilling here until we needed to regain heat.

1228180824_hdr

In between destinations, since we had the time and were close, we checked out another waterfall which appeared to be on private maintained property that no one seemed to be living on.  To me this was weird because this waterfall on Google Maps had a name, “Ovoca Falls.”  It was a spectacular waterfall, but I don’t recommend going here without at least attempting to ask permission first.

1228181103_hdr-01

The next trail was by far my favorite, home to Foster Falls.  Since it had been raining, the color of not only the green, but also the blue moss, the surrounding evergreens, the reddish pine needles, the texture of the bark on the trees, and the dead yellowish grass were all so vivid.  Ah!  It honestly felt like I was walking through one of my dreams.

1228181229_hdr-021228181232_hdr-01Apache is a big fan of moss, especially the blue moss.1228181240b_hdr-01~21228181245a_hdr

Normally, there is only one waterfall here.

1228181250_hdr-01

As we turned on to the Climber’s access trail then on to the Climber’s loop trail, the terrain changed to a much rockier terrain which I very much enjoyed though I am more of the kind of person that craves such terrain with a challenge, even if wet as long as there is no drop off or cliff accompanying those wet rocks.

1228181308_hdr-01I am not sure if you can see in the photo, but there were climbing routes already clipped into the rock on the walls to the left of us on the way to the base of Foster Falls.1228181309a_hdr-01

Nobody was climbing I am sure for one reason or another…1228181313_hdr-01Foster Falls:

1228181325_hdr

Back in Chattanooga we pretty much got back changed and went out to dinner again.  This time we went to a popular burger place, called “Urban Stack.”  It was good from what I remember, though a little on the pricey side.  Afterward, we went to a place called, Milk & Honey.  Very cool vibe.  I recommend the Burnt Sugar latte. ❤

Day 3 – December 29, 2018

received_1012820902241004-01
On the way back from Ozone Falls

We were very comfortable with each other by day three.  Apache even a couple times today captured my rare, but natural smile.  We were also both jamming out to each other’s music.  Apache has fantastic taste in music! ❤  The song we played probably the most was Pork Soda by Glass Animals.  I’m a big fan of Glass Animals and she got me into them.  I recommend them.  They have a unique quirky hipstery style.  I very much like how capable they are at capturing raw emotion, pulling on your heart strings in the process, at least for me.  If I am ever in a bad mood or even good, this is my jam.

1229180752a_hdr~2

On today’s agenda we hiked out to Spooner’s Rock and back for a total distance of 5.9-miles in Cumberland Trail State Park.  There is a shorter trail to the view point, but it isn’t much of a trail.

1229180901_hdr
“That’s what” ~ She

Apache cracked a Michael Scott joke to get that smile you see above.  Afterward, we got breakfast at Aretha Frankensteins.  Without a doubt, this is a must stop if you are willing to wait for a table.  This place very much resembles what I thought Chattanooga would be like from the way Apache spoke of Chattanooga over the years.1229181149a_hdr

1229181429_hdr-01Our next destination, Piney Falls (Upper and Lower), not to be mistaken with Piney Creek Falls from Day 1, was another unique one, you could walk, with plenty of room behind to the other side, surrounded by a patch of an evergreen forest.

Upper Piney Falls:1229181443_hdr-011229181447_hdr-011229181451_hdr-01

Lower Piney Falls you really couldn’t get close to.  This was the best shot I was able to get:1229181514a_hdr-01

Supposedly, there is another waterfall called “Rose Falls” located here and the peeps that seemed to know of its existence took the liberty to draw on the map by the trailhead of two ways to get there.  Since, both ways required us to cross the river, we decided against checking it out, for the water levels were too high.1229181414_hdr

1229181607b_hdr-01With the extra time we had, after checking out the fire tower Apache wanted me to go up and see the view from (see above photo), we headed over to Ozone Falls, a waterfall that is feet from a highway and railway.  The name matches the feeling of being there in person.  This was a waterfall you could also go behind but far behind.  The walls surrounding you stretch more than a hundred feet up in the shape similar to a cove.  It was a cool waterfall to end the trip with.

1229181603i_hdr-01

Day 4 – December 30, 2018

Today was not in the original plan.  More like an extra day, a day for me to get ready and take a breather before having to drive back to Maryland.  The majority of the day, I worked on my laptop at the coffee shop Katie works at, though I did check out some other places Apache recommended, but did not get the chance to show me, such as Southern Squeeze and Lookout Mountain.

To my surprise, there was an entire town on Lookout Mountain.  This was the view of Chattanooga from Roper’s Rock.

1230181042a_hdr

After her shift, we split a Mellow Mushroom pizza and later went to the end road where she lived to the train tracks so I could show her the bizarre sight I saw earlier this morning with what I think was a dead cow, but it was unfortunately too dark and a train started coming right when we started crossing the tracks to check it out.1230180951a_hdr

Have a look at the tail in the close-up photo.  Doesn’t it look like an odd position for a cow to die in? 1230180951b_hdr

When you look up Chattanooga, you will see advertised, Ruby Falls, which is a 145-foot underground waterfall along with Rock City Gardens.  I went to neither of these.  Apache as I remember said she didn’t want to burden me with a tourist trap.  My first thought was, omg I have a true friend that really cares and knows me.  That being said, even as I said earlier in this post, I am grateful I have a friend that also has a similar appreciation and love for the outdoors like I do.  I am positive that we will be executing many trips like this one in the near and distant future. 😊

After thoughts…

I loved Chattanooga.  It has a hospitality Portland, Maine vibe with a weirdness similar to Portland, Oregon, not to mention the abundance of outdoor hiking spots in the surrounding area.  Without a doubt, I would love to live there.  Career wise, my roots are in Maryland, but potentially in my line of work, if I really work at it, I know I can will a plan into existence, maybe 3-5 years down the line.

Post Trail depression is real.

I knew about post trail depression from research and word of mouth on trail, but actually going through it was another animal completely. Re-acclimatizing back to society could explained similarly to that culture shock feeling one gets from the first week back from an abroad trip, though it lasts way longer than a week and hurts a little. I for a while over-valued my worth. With all the energy I had, I felt like I could move mountains, to put the overvaluation into perspective. At least it was better than prior to the trail when I was undervaluing myself, but as a consequence, I for a long while had not been able to fulfill my goals for the first five months back from the trail, longer than I would like to admit to myself, trying to take bigger bites off of more than I could chew.

When I got off the trail, I had big plans, but too many and too big, easily getting discouraged in the process. I wanted positions that I did not have the skill level to acquire. For example, I wanted to start a food product business idea without ever having any business experience.

Discouraged, there have been times I felt lost with direction, idling. I’ll have all this energy to do something, energy I do not know for sure would stay for long but due to my lack of direction and fickle self, all that valuable energy and time has gone to waste. Even now want several directions, but I know I need to focus on one and follow through, despite the moments at times I feel I as if I am following blindly. I want to grow as I was growing on the trail. I want to escape into the mountains. I want to go back to my economically comfortable job. I want seek a career in travel. I want more face time with people. I want more outdoor time. I want to travel young while I am still physically capable. I want to stick to the state of constant growth, without hiccups, without my impatience, without wasting my time and money on something that is ‘not me’ too long, but that is life, the reality of the matter. That being said, I need to remind myself to focus on what I can control, the “little goals,” and not get discouraged when I am unable to accomplish a goal too large. Despite the desire for trying out different directions, I know, I do not have the luxury to be trying multiple different directions. Weighing out my options, I eventually choose a direction.  I decided to pursue further education.  I am also now perusing a Master’s degree in Computer Science via a Data Science track.  For work, I took a job as a stocker at Target, building up what I can in reputation while I more carefully look for opportunities in the data science niche.

I know how this blog reads, but I am not sad nor depressed. I simply thought I would be much further along in my life than I am currently. While discouraged at times, life is so much better than pre-trail. I feel liberated. I am finally in control of my life and have goals. Control wise, I have noticed something interesting in my behavior. I used to be very self-consciousness of my external appearance and worried constantly with no off-switch. Specifically, worried how I would look through the eyes of another person, and now I operate without a worry of how I look to another. I can finally be myself, obstacle free. As to how this change happened, I cannot name a specific date, but I think it had to do with spending time with myself distraction free. Maybe I got so sick of myself on trail, that I had no choice but to change.

Another change which I believe relates closely to the previously mentioned behavior, is that I am less organized. I used to be extremely organized and would feel unbalanced if I was not. While still very capable, from the many years of experience, I no longer feel the unbalance. Despite enjoying the internal peace, I no longer have the innate desire to stay constantly organized, making the rest of my life, quite simply put, difficult.

Prior to the trail, I used to day dream about traveling, now the majority of the time if I am daydreaming at all, I will think back to my experience on the Appalachian Trail. I definitely miss the life style, but more, the distraction free environment.  I love my tech, but if you don’t use your phone for example as a tool, one can sometimes get caught up in the not urgent, not important quadrant of your life, wasting valuable time.  Despite the days of being in constant pain, I miss the peaceful days alone with my thoughts, without service, hearing sometimes only the wind blowing in my face.   I have a better idea of how to block out certain noise, but no where close to where I would like to be.

20170912_104159
Bigelow Mountain
1129170921_hdr
Old Rag Mountain

As for hikes, I have hiked since I have been on trail and do plan to eventually post about my travels when I can. If you would like to see the photos from any of my hikes earlier, here is a link to my Facebook. Fair warning, I do not add people I have not met in person, though if you would like to just see my photos, all my travel photos are public.

0625181100_hdr
Cucumber Falls – Ohiopyle State Park

Welp that pretty much summarizes my life, post-trail, up to this point. Oh, website wise, I updated some information such as its layout, updates, new pages, gear, links. Aside from the new information, I am in the process of evolving the blog into an outlet of personal thoughts, travels (past + future), and life. Updates will not be regular as I would like due to the number of more important life tasks such as grad school, but you as a reader can at least always count this website being live to reference whenever needed.

Day 130 (Mile 1781.9 – 1792.0):

20170823_101943

This was a very chill day or at least after I made it to my next mail drop location. What I should have done, was mail my box to the hostel across the street. I was in a little bit of a rush today getting to the post office in Glencliff, NH. There open times are M-F 12-2pm so quite the small window of time. Knowing me I did not get up early and when I finally met the Omelette Guy, I wish I had more time to spend there and talk to him. I had heard about this guy hundreds of miles ago. So basically this guy has been making omelettes for thru-hikers for free every day since May! Insane! Right?!?  There was more than just omelettes, but clearly omelettes was what this guy was known for…20170823_105302

The Omelette Guy: How many eggs do you want in your omelette?
Me: How many do people usually get?
The Omelette Guy: Well I have had people request from one to twenty-eight eggs?
Me: I forget my reaction, but I am sure it was something the lines of “Holy Shit.” 😮
Me: I’ll have three then.20170823_103403
Me: Who holds the record?
The Omelette Guy: A girl named Summer Camp.
Me: Oh I met her close to the beginning of the trail. She recommended me to read/listen to “The Martian” (which I had not at the time) When did she pass through?
The Omelette Guy: I have a trail journal, let me check.
The Omelette Guy: It looks like a few weeks ago.
Me: Oh wow she is really far ahead.
Me: Why do you do this?
The Omelette Guy: You get to meet a lot of people that you would not normally get to meet. I have met quite a number of foreigners. There were other reasons, but I do not remember.
Me: I can agree with that.

After looking at the photo of three egg omelette…can you imagine a twenty-eight egg omelette?!?  Sounds like an all day activity. 😮

Hikers Welcome Hostel20170823_170153

After I picked up my package, I went across the street to check out the hostel across the street. I am sure I planned to go further this day than I did, but with combination of the very large package I needed to organize into my backpack, the fast paced day I had to get the the post office between the hours of 12-2pm, waking up at 9am (along with stopping by The Omelette Guy), Mount Moosilauke up ahead next, I made the decision to stay at the super chill hostel.

20170823_15013320170823_145543

 

20170823_173846Got some grub later at the Roadside Grill. I think I had a burger.  I don’t remember if they were good.  I do remember them though taking a long while with the orders though there were a lot of people here.  This is the place the hostel drives people for dinner if you sign up to go.  They also stop by a gas station on the way back I believe.  I remember buying lottery tickets while Pheasant Melon, Dozer, and Umbrella Face were picking up a resupply.

I found out Cur Dog and Disciple were staying here. They did the Moosilauke slack pack the hostel offers there the day I arrived. I had the chance to talk to them more. Curious, I asked Disciple what he did prior to the trail. I asked him if he did a job that where he lead people.  He was hesitant at first to say for understandable reasons, but said he is a minister.  I was like oh that makes a whole lot of sense.  Also, explains the name a little more in detail.

Bat flew into the hostel late when we were watching “The Departed”. It flew upstairs where the beds were. We were honestly unable to find the bat that night, but left the windows open.

Side Note:
– Warning: The Hikers Welcome Hostel will try to scare you into a slack pack with them for Mount Moosilauke north to south. If you were able to backpack the entire way here, there is no need at all for your to slack this section. The section is strenuous for sure, I just wanted to make a note that the people running this hostel are over emphasizing the difficulty of this section.

Props to this guy:20170823_101621

Day 129 (Mile 1765.4 – 1781.9):

20170822_161911

20170823_090216I am having a little bit of a hard time remembering exactly where I stopped to camp this day. I remember some events, but not all. I have a couple photos, but not enough to suggest a if I stayed at a campsite or stealthed. I took a morning photo (above) of where I camped at 9:02am so I am going to take a guess and say I stealthed. Also that may have rained that night based on the surrounding area. Normally, I would take a screen shot of my location on the map if I had stealthed, but with how burnt out I was with the blog, it is possible I missed a couple of days here and there. Based on the next photo I took that day by a road, I am going to think I was most likely no more than 2 miles before that road, only that I do not remember which road out of the three I am looking at on Guthook. Based on the comments in Guthook, the road I am looking for must be Cape Moonshine Road. I am thinking my original destination was Ore Hill Campsite for the day. I am glad I didn’t make it. I would have missed some of the best trail magic I came across on the trail the next day! As I got closer and closer to the possible place I set up my tent, I noticed something interesting in the comment section on a dirt road way-point location in Guthook, my own comment I made on August 22, 2017 reading: “Less than 0.1 North of this dirt road to the left in between the trail and some ruins are room for two tents.” LOL =D I comment rarely on Guthook. I may have made 3-5 comments on the entirety of the trail.Screenshot_2018-04-18-02-03-21

What I remember:
– Not having any service except for on the tower of Smarts Mountain.
– Taking a rest along with Young Gandalf at the top of Smarts Mountain
– Apologizing and reconnecting with Apache for something I would like to not disclose on this blog. Nothing bad, just getting involved with something that was none of my business.
– Semi remember over hearing Young Gandalf listening to Harry Potter series audio books out loud in the Smarts Mountain shelter.

20170822_12064620170822_120650

A note I left on my phone from this date:

I realize I will be entering the Whites tomorrow, but even with the change of pace around the corner, I am tired of the same routine. Even with the change of pace, It will still be the same old same old no matter how beautiful. Maybe I’ll take my words back later. Simply, I hike to finish. People are great still but having the same conversation with a whole bunch of different people has been starting to annoy me. I can tell I am less eager to start up conversations with my fellow hiker. One south-bounder I had run into today said, not one north-bounder had a smile on their face passing them in Maine when they had started after I had mentioned how it was to me to hike after hiking for four months now. I am beginning to understand why. If I didn’t have audio books, I don’t know how I’d survive mentally. My thoughts are about executing what I plan to do when I get back. I have ideas but without the tools to execute those ideas, life is pretty stagnant. I can only continue to learn and take in. Something as simple as a pen and paper would excite me, but not even for my sanity would I be willing to carry the extra weight.

Look at this tree just hanging there!20170822_161041

Day 128 (Mile 1747.7 – 1765.4):

20170821_170830[1]Thinking back, I thought this was a short day because I was the first one to get to the camp site (Trapper John Shelter) hours before anyone else, but 17.7 miles is pretty decent for a day so not too sure why I think this. The math checks out for the distance from where I got off the trail in Hanover, NH so maybe I had intentions and the daylight to get over the next mountain, Smarts Mountain a 3200 footer, but didn’t have it in me.

20170821_122636[1]Anyway, I was back on the trail after a very enjoyable time with the Madison’s. David tried to make sure to get a picture in the exact spot he picked me up from to I think see if my Mom could tell difference between the photos. I don’t have the photos, but I am pretty sure I was wearing my rain gear in the pick up photo. 😀

Shortly, like almost the exact time I split from David, I saw Pheasant Melon, Dozer, and Umbrella Face walk up the block to get back on the trail. I was a little surprised and happy they were not ahead of me with how long I had spent off trail in Lebanon, NH, but like a couple of other people such as Young Gandalf, they had all took more than one zero in Hanover.

20170821_163825[1]I wish I took the time to write (type) down what I was thinking during those 17.7 miles, but I hope it was something along the lines of accepting my close friend’s decision and looking forward to the less than 500-mile journey ahead of me. To this day, April 27, 2018, I am so very happy I made the commitment of asking her before the summit. A great amount of weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I felt as if I was hiking the hike for myself if that makes sense to anyone reading this. Not that I wasn’t before, but I was now being completely honest with myself now, true to myself.

20170821_171010[1]So as I mentioned above, I made it to the Trapper John Shelter camp area before anyone else, tent all set up and everything so I start to re-watch what I had on my phone for entertainment, Rick and Morty S03E03 “Pickle Rick” out loud and I start to hear some really loud hustling behind the shelter and a tree fall, so without checking it out, I climb the fire place about half way up above and start making loud sounds phone in hand still. I am thinking it is a moose and I learned a while back on the trail not to mess with those so I stayed up there until I finished the episode which was maybe 15 more minutes. I don’t know what I did next, but no one saw me up there, which was probably for the best in my opinion. It could have been a squirrel behind the shelter and a random tree falling for all I know. =P

Later that night Young Gandalf and a few others joined me, not in climbing the fireplace, but the campsite. 🙂

 

A year ago today…

A year ago today, I started my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I want to keep this short…so here goes my attempt at short. 🙂 The Appalachian Trail will always be a special place for me.  When I look back at photos or my close friend’s artwork of those photos, I get emotional, left in astonishment that actually did happen.  It was the type of experience I don’t think I’ll ever be able explain ever fully. My go-to for a while was that had it had its up and downs, 😄 figuratively and literally.  I had some of my most strenuous and best days of my life on the trail.

Anyway, I am so very thankful to the community, my family, and friends who supported me through my journey. ❤️ I will never forget the generosity (The kind that really makes you reflect), refreshing (!!!), open-minded, supportive, charismatic, insanely awesome people I’ve crossed paths with.  To all who I have met on and off trail, thank you for being. 😊

 

As for the completion of the blog, I plan to complete it.  I lately have just not had the free time.

 

Day 127 (Zero):

20170820_084906

If I remember correctly, Suzi had work today so I had spent the majority of the day with David, though we did visit her at work. Not too much security at that hospital. =/

Suzi put some of that tea I liked out for me to enjoy for when I awoke. Here is that mason jar with the maple syrup I mentioned yesterday!20170820_091545

David treated me to some breakfast at a diner in town. I wish I took more photos. I was still in my head. Like I said earlier, I wish I was more mentally available to focus on what was in front of me.

20170820_165401Picked some of the red potatoes from their garden. More like I watched…I was very interested in learning how David for example dug for the potatoes. I realize this is basic, but I really don’t know. This is something I’d like to learn on my own when I have the land to have a garden, but the extent of my gardening skills is to tomatoes from when we had a garden at my parent’s old house. Well we have one now, but I do not tend to it. I learned about their learning experiences. Even David’s and Suzi’s opposing opinions. David mentioned you could use material as cheap as tyvek for the ground cover (for the weeds), but Suzi mentioned the problem with tyvek is that it is made to be water proof so the only water going to the plants will be to the cut outs.

Suzi also mentioned that if you use the potatoes the same day you pick them, when the moister is still contained within them from the ground, they taste creamer. Spot on! They were delicious!

Went out for ice cream!20170820_195757

Suzi and David are perfect for each other.20170820_191955

I would like to take the time and thank Suzi and David Madison for their hospitality! It was a warm welcomed stay and I would love to visit again in the future! Thank you! 🙂

Day 126 (Zero):

20170819_133659

Best tea ever…20170819_092854
Suzi adds maple syrup from a mason jar in which contains a vanilla bean for a hint of vanilla flavoring. This is brilliant! I wish I had thought of this!

So…I asked for that close friend’s answer to the question I had asked her in that love letter I wrote. For those who did not read the blog early on, I wrote a 12 page letter (small pages) to a close friend asking if she could get back to me with the answer of exclusively dating when I had finished the Appalachian Trail. I knew she was as eager as me. She wanted to tell me. I just mistook her eagerness as mutual emotions because there is only so much you can say without giving the way you feel about someone over text or phone.

I wanted the answer to essentially end my suffering of not knowing. As mentioned previously, I could not stop thinking of her and it was getting to the point where my thoughts were even annoying me. I also was mentally planning on being with her over any other scenario without truly considering the scenario without her.

24829444_1444072145690666_756459317_n-e1512705517139

Welp, I received my requested answer…throat tightened. I kept repeating in my head…where did I go wrong?…even though I knew perfectly well there was always that slight possibility she would not be interested. The weight in my throat got heavier. I was crushed and in shock. The world that I had envisioned and had hoped for would no longer be.

David taking me along the ride to take out the trash/recycling…20170819_111452

Then as time passed by, a weight lifted off my shoulders. I realized the benefit I have gained from obtaining this information at this moment, the bright side one could say. I get to hike through these roller coaster of emotions and work through them on trail. I could not be in a better place. Could you imagine me finding out at the end? I may not remember the hike for the hike. I am very thankful I did this when I did, to face my shit now and get over her.

I would like to mention that Suzi and David Madison were extremely kind when I had been going through these emotions. It was authentic. No offense to anyone prior, but this was the most welcoming stay on the entire trail. I just wish I could have given more of my energy to them from the trail while I was with them for the weekend. During my time here, I was lucky enough to indulge on Suzi’s phenomenal cooking. I wish I took more photos!

Here are the jars of jelly she made:20170819_154717

I believe she was letting me eat the film she had scraped from the top.  Comment if I am wrong.

Her snacks too…they are ah just ha.  I was very eager to learn from her.20170819_134657
She made the salsa for this.

20170819_213149After David’s son, Danny showed me his motorcycle, he invited me back to a fire pit gathering. I did not stay long because of my sleeping habits, but long enough to witness a friend of his shooting a fish with a BB gun…did I mention on the first shot? He gutted it and then promptly stuck it on a stick to cook on the fire to I assume eat, but the smell of the fish when it was cooked indicated that it may have been sick.

 

Day 125 (Mile 1718.1 – 1747.7):

20170818_151522

Woke up to some coldish rain. I thankfully was in a cabin, but some of the windows in the cabin, particularly the one I slept next to were not sealed correctly.  Normally I am one to take my time leaving in the morning when it is raining and I did, but not as late as I would have normally.  Last night I made the goal to get to Hanover, NH by the end of the day so I got on moving.

Stopped at this store, “On The Edge Farm” off the road a bit. 20170818_111341
The homemade cookies were amazing! I highly recommend people to stop here!  I did not stay long though for reasons no fault of the store.  I just had to hike. I could not stop hiking if I tried today.  I had to keep moving.  So much so, I packed out the cookie dough ice cream I also bought here.  I wish I allowed myself more time enjoy this place.

There is something about raining days I enjoy, besides the fact I do not need to retrieve, carry, and drink water as much.  Everything is more vivid and still. On a rainy day back home, I am not to much the type that wants to curl up on a couch, book in hand, sipping some tea (although that does sounds nice).  I want to get out and explore!  See the world in a different light, quite literally.  Yes, raining days are a pain when you have to go to work and sit in traffic, but when you are free they are peaceful.
20170818_123200

First fording experience! 20170818_124658
There was a huge bucket of trail magic on the other side! Thank you!

20170818_124814

It had been raining non stop all day, so I didn’t even bother taking off my hiking shoes for the crossing to put on my sandals.  Boots were a little heavier, but already wet.  With the non-stop mentality I had all day, it was better this way.  Plus, if I make it to Hanover tonight, I do not need to worry about the cold for later.

I am very happy my camera picked up the fog I had been trying to capture.  Way better in person, but check out these photos anyway:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There was a woman I didn’t catch the name of across this bridge…20170818_160031
…that did some trail magic from her porch. She had quite a lot of food and log book, eager to talk so I took the time to chat. Apparently, the river at one point had flooded her house. She brought this up because when I said where I was from she mentioned that the organization that helped rebuild her house was an organization from Maryland that I do not remember the name of at the moment. I don’t really remember what else we talked about, but here are her roosters:20170818_162357

Entering Hanover, or rather the town on the south side of the river I ran into Oakley going south bound.  He was doing a flip flop thru-hike from somewhere near McAfee Knob.  He had felt he was not going to make the October 15 cut off date for Katahdin.  I may have mentioned him earlier, but we met each other in the Smokies and then again at Trail Days.  He has a very unique quirky personality and very much enjoyed talking to him.

20170818_192653Managed to pull a 30 mile day in 8.5 hours.  I am very proud of myself.  Plus, I get more time to talk to David and Suzi!  They were both surprised I managed that kind of mileage.  It certainly has been a while since I have achieved that kind of mileage, though it was an easy 30 since that entire stretch contained just rolling hills.  I don’t even think there were rocks on the trail.  Perfect day for some rain.

David picked me up in his old truck, took a photo of me for my Mom, and took me back to his home, which was significantly closer to the trail than my Mom had described.

Side Notes:
– Listened to the Steve Jobs book pretty much non-stop all day, not because I particularly enjoy it, but to get through it.
– I am leaving out a major detail of this day for my privacy, but would also like to remember for myself what that detail is by typing this sentence.
– Fell in the shower that night. I didn’t injure anything too important. 😉
– Hanover, NH had a very rich vibe to it. Found out later, it was home to Dartmouth College, one of the Ivy League schools.

Day 124 (Mile 1704.1 – 1718.1):

20170817_190401

Left minutes before check out as usual and headed out.  No hitch, just walked back down the road to the trail.20170817_122631
20170817_130208
Waterfall not too far into my hike along with a board walk on its north end.

20170817_130843

The folks that took my photo by the waterfall had tons of questions so I took the time to answer them.  They were the basic ones you’d usually hear.  When did you start?  Are you alone?  How are you doing food?  The great thing about having a blog at least in my opinion is that you can give them your blog in case they have more questions and turn a long conversation into a short one.  I am always down to talk about the trail, but at times when I am on the move or vice versa, it is handy.

Ran into some very eager south bounders at the next shelter…as well as a chipmunk, which I finally got the chance to get a picture of!20170817_154900

They gave some tips for the up and coming Whites.  I learned about the huts here. Huts in which you can work for stay.  As well as how expensive they are to stay in for the night.  To reserve one of these for the nights, it will set one back about $100.  Not entirely a bad idea since breakfast and dinner are included for anyone besides thru-hikers.  For thru-hikers, I would rather work for stay.  Stealthing in the White Mountains apparently is not an option, illegal.

Another unique part of the trail:


20170817_201254Shelter I stayed at for the night was super chill.  It was more like a log cabin with a door that closed called “The Lookout.”  I can see why…20170817_190433

Yak stopped here with another guy for dinner and a long weed break. I thought they were going to stay, but instead broke out the LSD, cut them up, took a micro-dose, and went on their way after dark.  Met another south bounder.  She had quite the interesting background.  She purposefully carried non-down material with her, the extra weight because how the down used in coats and sleeping bags were plucked from ducks in a harmful way.  I do not remember her trail name, but we connected on Facebook after the trail.  Her name is trail name is Mama Duck and it is quite funny how we reconnected.  A close friend of mine shared this article and  then I reached out.  It is crazy how the trail connects people. Mamma Duck

Had service here and called David Madison (family) that I will either be arriving tomorrow night or the next day around noon.  They live near the trail and offered a place to stay when I come through.  I am very happy that I will be arriving on a weekend to see David and Suzie Madison.  Not completely sure, but I think David is my second cousin and if you have been following the blog early on, they sent me two packages of snacks for the trail.  First one on Day 30 and the next on Day 58.

 

Day 123 (Mile 1698.9 – 1704.1):

20170817_121034

Left very early in the morning, eager to get to town and pick up my package from the Base Camp Outfitters there.  Get there on time, but the place opened 30 minutes late. Must be a lax area when it is not ski season.  The guy there said he did not have my package.  I asked to barrow the phone to make a call and said I need to pay for it to my surprise, so I walked over to the visitor center next door to use their WiFi to figure out the issue.  Amazing WiFi at the visitor center just to let future hikers know!  I don’t want to say the owner there was rude, but he did not seem interested in helping me.  Anyway, my Mom thinks there is a possibility the package is still in transit and advises me to stay in the area to see if it arrives tomorrow.  Instead of pushing onward, I decide to make a call from the visitors center there to reserve a spot at the Inn At Long Trail.  Fortunately, they had one more spot!  Not sure why the Appalachian Trail had changed, but the trail and Long Trail used to cut across right where this Inn used to be.  No worries, but it would have been nice to get to the Inn last night.

20170816_092855

If I knew the WiFi situation at the Inn At Long Trail, I definitely would had stayed much longer to download Game of Thrones while I was at the visitor center, before walking up.  There was a bus system in the area, but a mile up the road to me is really nothing so I walk.  I walked and it must have been a little more than a mile because the walk in total took me 45 minutes.  Oh yeah I passed through some construction and this one dude holding the stop/slow sign handled me an energy bar.  May not seem to interesting to include this detail in my blog out of all of the other details I exclude from my blog, but it really meant something to me.  I choose to share, to inspire mainly, but this detail is more, more about the community as a whole, the community of people that you have never met, but somehow have your back too.  Ah…this reminds me of an essay I read in my Freshman seminar class in my Freshman year at Mount St. Mary’s, “A Shared Moment of Trust” by Warren Christopher.  It is a very quick read or even a quick listen if you’d prefer to listen: A Shared Moment of Trust ~ Warren Christopher.

Made it to cute looking log cabin with the very homey feel to it, showered, tried the WiFi, gave up, and decided to take an Uber to Rutland, VT for the Walmart.  Yeah I was surprised too, there was an Uber in the area and probably the only one for that matter. I could have hitched or waited for the bus, but I was impatient.  I figured I would prepare myself for the worst and pick up some Cliff Bars in the neighboring town.  Well I was not really preparing myself for the worst, I just really wanted some more of those blueberry crisp Cliff bars.  Fortunately it paid off because as you will find out in the next blog, my package had yet to arrive.  Rutland was much larger than I was expecting.  I was caught off guard by the homeless population there.  On my way out of Walmart, I ran into Legs who had been staying at the Yellow Deli.  He was major in love with the place, but it is understandable why.  They offer hikers a place to stay for free and apparently have amazing food.  I did not get the honor of trying their food, but it is very much well known on the trail.  So here is the thing with the Yellow Deli one needs to know before staying.  It is a cult, or rather group of believers apart of “The Twelve Tribes” in which beleive that humans must return to an ancient communal life in order to achieve salvation, to be one with God.  Not that I have a problem with this, but they will ask you to stay.  Do not quote me on this, but I think if you choose to stay, you need to donate everything you own.  I can see why they target hikers.  There are a lot of us who are lost, not knowing their place yet in the world.

20170816_172842Anyway, I was heading to Ben and Jerry’s and asked if Legs would like to tag along.  He was very much willing.  It may be just in my head, but Ben in Jerry’s ice cream is significantly better in Vermont.  Talked to these two people sitting down at the Ben and Jerry’s, table next to ours outside and asked if they could give me a ride back.  They were eager to help.  Normally, not the way I operate, but it was getting close to dark.  They are both interns for a nonprofit close by on their last day before heading back to school.  I did not catch their names, but they were super helpful, eager to even drive Legs back if they saw him on their way back.

While I don’t recommend the stay, the food alone in the bar is worth the stop at the Inn At Long Trail.

 

Side Note:
– The guy at the Camp Outfitters never sent back the food that eventually arrived there as he promised to do so.  I would like to note that it may be a better idea to get your mail drop sent elsewhere.  I do not know for certain, but I think when they informed my Mom that my package had arrived, they in reality lost it then found it.  Maybe there really was a mix up, but it may be in your best interest not to take chances with this place. Fortunately for me, this package only contained a days worth of food.

Day 122 (Mile 1675.3 – 1698.9):

20170815_111108

At view of an airport, met up with these two guys smoking a joint. Stayed and chatted for a bit. I don’t remember his name, but the unique story on how he received his name. He rescued a lost dog on the trail. We then talked about society. I remember saying I was very eager to return. Those two seemed to think quite the opposite, wanting to enjoy the last miles of the trail as long as they could.

Cool looking suspension bridge20170815_114032

20170815_114443

Another view of that airport earlier, this time on a different mountain.20170815_120052

Stopped at the Clarendon Shelter for lunch. This campsite would be perfect for tenting. There has to be at least 50 flat grassy spots here. Ran into Disciple and Cur Dog leaving the shelter. We all had stayed at the same shelter last night. They had left about four hours earlier than I from camp, so I was a little surprised to run into them again so early in the day. Filled up water, forced down a liter of water with two of those Scratch electrolyte packets I purchased in Manchester Center and continued onward. 20170815_145901

Not too sure how old this sign is, but I have around 500 more miles to go!20170815_151827

Climb up Killington was brutal. It felt as the trail went on forever. Also, there were some sketchy narrow parts of the trail too.20170815_181459

The goal for the day was to make it to Cooper Lodge on top of Killington at Mile 1694.5, but I was feeling good so I continued onward! Oh by the way, there is a phenomenal piped water source by the Cooper Lodge. I even convinced myself I could make it to a campsite at Mile 1703.9 by VT Route 100 if I were to hike at night, but as soon as night fell, I quickly changed my mind. While hiking at night is very doable, it is not worth the risk of possibly injuring myself this far into my hike.

20170815_191613Made it to the next shelter, with the intention of just eating my dinner there, but decided to stay. Was talking to this guy at the shelter and he said his son was hiking the AT too. I asked what his trail name was and he did not seem to know. Then Speedy walks up to my surprise, and says that guy is his Dad. We catch up and talk about meeting later at the Inn At Long Trail if time allows.

Very happy I decided to stay, hours later there was a down pour.  More happy that I stayed in the shelter instead of a tent.  I tend to not get up as early when I wake up in a wet tent.

Day 121 (Mile 1659.5 – 1675.3):

20170814_112602

Woke up, hiked down the mountain to refill water at the Peru Peak Shelter to find Disciple and Cur Dog packing up to leave. We talked a bit while I filtered my water and split from there. They mentioned that no one was there to collect the $5 payment for the shelter. Definitely would have made the extra effort last night if I knew that.

Shortly after filling up water, I found myself on an endless plank bridge along Griffith Lake. The official term for this structure by the way is puncheon. This section of puncheons may be the longest yet on the entire AT. This term does not come up in Google, but if you were really interested in reading more on National Park Service structures of the trail, click here.

 

20170814_123350After crossing a relatively new looking suspension bridge, there were some south bounders chilling there so I decided to take a longish break to talk to them. One of them was European I believe from Great Britain based on her accent.

Started to read the Steve Jobs book I had downloaded back in Manchester Center. I made the purchase of this digital download not only because I was bored out of my mind with my own thoughts and current playlist of music, but because, I had picked up this book in college, never finishing it. Interestingly as I was listening, the book that was recommended to me to buy by that old folk in Manchester Center, “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass was referenced. Quite the coincidence.

Not too sure on the purpose or reason, but at mile 1674.8 by a side trail to a view called “White Rocks” there is a rock garden of sorts. I thought it was pretty cool so I took some photos. 20170814_17192820170814_171947

Decided to walk the .4 miles off the trail to a shelter with a poor water source according to Guthook. I was going to leave since the source was the smallest trickle I have seen on the trail, but I happened to meet these two very interesting people so I borrowed Cur Dog’s method of retrieving the water with the cut bottom half of a sawyer squeeze out of a puddle and set up my tent for the night. Brilliant idea to be honest. If I go on another through hike, I will be sure to make a cup like that for scooping up at poor water sources.

Those two people were a Mother (Momma Bear) and Daughter (forgot name) section hiking. The daughter looked really young but was going into her sophomore year at Brown University. Not that the daughter was not interesting, I was more interested in speaking with Mamma Bear who spent her younger years traveling all over the world. I took some notes. I mentioned it is really remarkable that she traveled alone without the help of the internet. With the internet at least one would be able to get an idea of where your going looks like. In response she mentioned that there were these travel books and if you didn’t know how to speak the language, you could show certain people the book and they would know exactly what you wanted. She knew several languages, but for when she didn’t it is truly remarkable to me how she navigated by herself.

Travel was not the only topic. We talked about the trail as well. Mamma Bear showed concern for her daughter’s will to hike the entire AT after she had finished school. I have heard the concern from practically every person I have come in contact with when I said I was or was going to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Yes, you need to use your best judgement, but the trail is not as dangerous as one might think. I understand the perspective (With the exception that I do not have children of my own), without knowledge of the unknown, what it actually is like out here, the unknown can seem quite frightening. While it is not necessary I told Mamma Bear she could hike with a dog and bring a GPS communication device. She seemed to warm up to the idea. When it comes down to it though, the decision is really up to the daughter and for Momma Bear to learn to let her daughter grow outside the nest.

Side Note:
– I have no idea what I was trying to accomplish or if I was accidentally taking photos…but here is one of the photos I took somewhere after Griffith Lake and before the suspension bridge:20170814_113720

 

Day 120 (Mile 1650.7 – 1659.5):

Toad
20170813_130223

Made our way out of town pretty slowly today. Stopped at the seemingly popular destination for thru-hikers, “Up For Breakfast.” I was recommended to go by a previous thru-hiker, the one with the bourbon a couple days ago. It was strangely a cash only restaurant so both Speedy and I had to run to the Rite Aid next door for the ATM while awaiting for a spot. There were quite a number of people interested in speaking to both of us about our journey. In my experience, while I am not too phased, most people are just in awe and full of questions. It is understandable, but there are just more interesting people to talk to, not in the open, out in the world, accomplishing greater things. I am just simply walking. Or as FuckIt explained to me in New York, paying top dollar to be homeless. While the restaurant was cramped, the food was well worth the stop. We both had the “Hungry Hiker” (A platter with two eggs, bacon, sausage links, hash browns/home fries, toast, and two pancakes). I wish I ate the pancakes first. The pancakes may be the reason why this place is so popular, aside from the atmosphere.

Hitched back to the trail. Speedy is a god when it comes to getting a ride. I cannot figure out how he could get a ride so quickly.

20170813_130240

Very much bloated, we both made our way up Mt. Bromley. We have very similar paces and I love talking to him, but I very much wanted some space since we had spent the past two days together. I am likely over thinking it, but I felt I came on a little too strong when I said I would like to hike alone for a while. He said that was fine since he was supposed to meet up with his father soon at certain time for Mt. Killington, a 4,000 footer coming up in Vermont. He and his father are apart of this 4k club that involves hiking all of the 4,000 footers I believe in the New England region. I may be wrong on the the region. The interaction felt a little awkward because a top this mountain we both sat and chilled up there on an inoperative ski lift. Speedy Skis during the winter if I have not yet mentioned that. 20170813_143356

The other ski lift there was operational and the engineer there said we could take a ride down the mountain if we wanted to, although we would have to pay if we wanted a ride back up. I believe the ski lifts stay operational for the view up there.20170813_134501

I was feeling pretty lazy today so I cut the day short. With an already low mileage day, late start day, I knew I could not hike a high mileage day I seek out to accomplish on a day to day basis. With low hopes of being able to have service in my tent for Game of Thrones, I sought out a stealth spot on top of Peru Peak, right before Peru Peak shelter. Good on water, I decided to stealth at that spot. There was no service unfortunately, but at least I have the alone time to work on my blog.

20170813_183915

Side Note:
– Bought a Probar in town to try it out and I would like to say while, it was very nutritious and almost twice the amount of calories than a Cliff Bar, it was no where near a meal replacement as advertised, at least for a thru-hiker. They are very expensive, so I am a little relieved I didn’t end up feeling replenished after eating on of these.  Must though credit how tasty these are!
20170813_141038

 

Day 119 (Mile 1642.1 – 1650.7):

Woke up earlyish today (with an overwhelming amount of slugs on the outside of our tents) with the main intention getting to town before the post office had closed, but more because we both really wanted a full day in town.

On the way we saw a dead porcupine (puddle of quills around its skeleton) if anyone is interested:20170812_080631
The night before Speedy and I reserved a spot in this women’s house who normally uses the rooms normally for foreign exchange students during the school year. She said she would pick us up at noon, but we got there much earlier and were talking about hitching. Before I was even on board, Speedy sticks out his thumb and literally the first car pulls over to pick us up into town. Those people were really friendly even making multiple stops in town for us.  I felt like I couldn’t thank them enough.

After the post office and dropping off stuff at our place of stay, we explored the touristy town of Manchester Center, VT.  Learned a bit about Speedy.  Definitely would like to hang out after the trail.  Genuinely cool guy.20170812_135246

We were especially excited about the Ben and Jerry’s

20170812_111405

Had two helpings and came back for more later! Favorite flavor was fish and chips! 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍20170812_161716

Pro-tip: Avoid House of Pizza. We didn’t even box our leftovers. Not a good sign for thru-hikers to dislike food.

Had quite the interesting experience while looking around the self help section of the Northshire book store in town.  An older fellow after hearing about my journey repeated over and over before parting that the book in the photo below “was for me.”  I do not quite remember what was said, but he was so pushy about this book that he even offered to buy the book after I said I could not.  I explained it was not the money, but the weight since I am hiking the Appalachian Trail.  The title of the book is, “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass.  If this book was not a picture book, I certainly would have bought the audio version.  Maybe I will pick it up after my travels.20170812_151606

Here are the books I did purchase on Audible:

  • The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
  • The 7 Irresistible Qualities Men Want in a Woman – Bruce Bryans
  • What Women Want in a Man – Bruce Bryans
  • The Four Agreements – don Miguel Ruiz
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek
  • You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth – Jen Sincero
  • The Martian – Andy Weir
  • Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
  • How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease – Michael Greger
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counter-intuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Mark Manson
  • Sex at Dawn – Christopher Ryan

The result of those past three wet nights: 20170812_112813.jpg

Ran into Legs while Speedy and I were heading to McDonald’s after drinking some. I was surprised he was in the process of leaving town minutes before dark to go hike at night to keep hiking.

Day 118 (Mile 1621 – 1642.1):

Woke up early, as planned to catch the sun rise on the fire tower with everyone else. The views were phenomenal. It looked as if we were looking out to a sea of mountains from the top of the tallest pine tree.


Had some service up there so I texted my close friend what I was seeing! She sent me that one emoticon with “x” for the eyes.  I will admit, it was pretty scary coming down.  I was likely too tired to care on the way up.

I should have taken advantage of the day, but I crawled back into bed only to lay there for two hours and not regain the warmth I had lost.

20170811_132741

The mud seemed non-stop today.

20170811_163841That climb to Stratton Mountain felt like it went on forever!  Speedy had been hanging up there looking at a Appalachian Trail map posted up there. He is really into Maps I believe since he went to school for graphic design. I first met him at the first shelter in Vermont, but really didn’t get to know him until today. We were both interested in splitting a place in Manchester center to save some money, but did not have a reliable way to keep connected so we camped and hiked together to guarantee the plan.

Received another night of some of that unexpected rain. I am not complaining. I would prefer rain any night than during the day.

Day 117 (Mile 1599.1 – 1621):

20170810_091129

1600 miles!20170810_093425.jpg

Still not feeling good.

20170810_120952

Chilled at the next shelter for a while to eat some weight off of my pack. I gave all my unwanted tuna to Legs. We were both thrilled. He gained food he wasn’t yet sick of and I lost a significant amount of pack weight. It was at least a pound, but it made all the difference to me. =D  The couple in the photo before were some people that started the Long Trail yesterday.  They offered a tangerine for us to split, but Legs took it for himself.  Wasn’t too bothered, just a little surprised he’d actually keep it to himself. Oh well. At least I don’t have to carry the weight.  20170810_132931

20170810_153225Found out Legs had also did the miles to also get to Vermont last night. That guy is not afraid to hike big miles at night. We leap frogged each other until I left him behind at kick ass the trail magic at the parking lot off of Route 9 before the sorta steep incline that neither of us were excited to do. Trail magic was thanks to a Thru-hiker who happened to be off the trail a couple of days due to small injury and also had his truck. I think he is from the area.

A south bounder getting dropped off from town, mentioned to Legs and I that there was a rock scramble up ahead that reminded him of the whites, in which I responded, “can’t wait” sarcastically, not at all eager to start the climb ahead as everyone else chilling by the trail magic. Clearly, I have not had the pleasure of hiking through the whites, but I imagine it can’t be as bad as the rock scrambles in PA, which it wasn’t.

Legs mentioned something about wanting to get to the fire tower to see tomorrow’s sun rise, which interested me as well so I said I would meet him there. The fire tower was only .3 more miles than I intended on doing for the day.

I stopped at the shelter with the intention of waiting up for Legs behind me, but found myself debating on staying the night at the shelter instead, since it was a really nice and relatively new one with a pipped spring. Also, there was a former thru-hiker there with some bourbon. While all very tempting, I decided to hike the additional .3 miles with Legs.

20170810_204933Met some other hikers who had the same idea as us by the fire tower. By the way, camping spots up there were superb! One of those hikers was a very interesting character named, “Yak.” He was offering weed and a micro dose of LSD for the morning (I wasn’t interested). He decided to call the weed rat poison from then on because of the way I rejected, which I will explain because I will admit it was kinda silly after hearing his response. So…I do not remember why this conversation came up, but my Mom was giving my brothers and I advice if I were to buy weed, not to buy it in the city because they may trick us since we were, “rich white kids” and actually give me rat poison instead of weed. My Dad then turns to my Mom and says, “shouldn’t you be advising them not to buy weed at all?” While, I agree people can lace drugs with something harmful, I did not at the time know what weed looked like and for that matter, know what rat poison looked like either. My Mom was clearly trying to scare me at the time, but I to this day did not know what rat poison looked like, as a result, looked like an idiot rejecting Yak’s proposal. Yes, I know judge me. I lived under a rock for some time. Anyway, I am not sure the reason, but this fellow acts like a hillbilly. I very much was entertained by his colorfulness.

Another beautiful day with an unexpected rain for the night (Making our days really muddy to point that out). This time after night fall while talking around the fire.

 

Day 116 (Mile 1577.5 – 1599.1):

Left Chesire, onward to Mt. Greylock, which I believe is the highest point in Massachusetts. Came across some amazing trail magic practically taking over a parking lot a little before the summit of Greylock. There were BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato) wraps, fruit salad, beer, soda, bagels, etc.! This may have been the largest trail magic I have yet to come across. Turns out this trail magic was put together by Blue Bird’s parents. If there is a possibility Blue Bird’s parents are reading this, I would like to thank you guys again for your generosity.

20170809_112345

That fruit salad! 👌🏼20170809_112229

Cool little pond before the top of Greylock with what appeared to be a small cabin on the other side of it.

20170809_123705

Greylock as expected, a little before the summit, with all the roads up there was very much touristy. I didn’t look too much into the history, but there was a light house looking structure on top of Greylock. Beautiful view too! 20170809_13122420170809_132203

On the way down from Greylock, I ran into this painter…20170809_133022

…painting this view:20170809_133002

We talked for a bit. Apparently, he retired from an IT profession and now spends his days painting. One of my friends, Hope is an artist in training…I wonder if she does this sort of thing.

After Greylock, I pretty much felt like crap for the remainder of the day. It could be one of two things. The six doughnuts I ate the previous night or the beers I drank at the trail magic. I’m going to bet on the beer, but it could also be the combination. I have endured much worse, so I kept on pushing the remainder of the day.

Made it into Vermont and the start of the Long Trail, which I could be a thru-hiker of too if I go back and finish the remainder since it runs along the Appalachian Trail for a good bit, after I complete the Appalachian Trail. As of now, that is not an interest of mine since I don’t particularly hike for the completion part.

20170809_174810

Also, at this border was a guy who I won’t mention the name of was smoking his weed and when I asked he said it was because weed will not be legal again until Maine, which I found strange because the law is not something that would stop this guy or anyone for that matter on the trail.

Made it to my destination, the first shelter in VT and it had quite the pool of people. It seems they had the same goal as I, to get to Vermont. It is also the first shelter for the Long Trail. There was not the best place for tent camping. It was pretty much impossible to avoid the rocks.  Met Disciple along with Cur Dog (Two older men in their 40s or 50s) for the first time here along with several other new faces which I will likely mention in the later days. Disciple is simply a follower of Jesus. More on Disciple later. He is truly an inspiring human being.

Unexpected rain while eating dinner. You could literally hear the confusion as everyone scrambled, leaving their dinners in the rain to make sure their gear didn’t get wet. Fortunately for myself, I had eaten the majority of my dinner and always eat my dinner after I am set up for the night so the only task left at hand for me to do was to tie up my bear bag.  Although, to avoid the rocks in this one spot I decided to set up my tent on a not completely flat surface improperly for rainy conditions.  On a hill I need to set up my tent with the sides of the tent on the down hill, which are the sides with the doors.  I do not remember if I mentioned this prior, but if I set up the tent laying parallel to the hill, my feet (or head) could potentially slide into the bug netting pushing out past the cuben fiber, which will let water in if raining.  Yes, I know, major design flaw, but still worth the purchase in my opinion with how well it has been holding up on my through hike thus far.  I have made this mistake two times prior on the trail.  If I mentioned water getting into my tent previously on my blog, this was the cause.  While it did rain tonight, I avoided getting wet by sleeping diagonally, which is not uncommon for me to do since I like to spread out some when I sleep.

Day 115 (Zero):

20170808_183041Cheshire feels homey.

Took a zero soley to catch up on my blog. I have yet to upload it, but I certainly have caught up with my offline copy.  I had been working on my blog straight for twelve hours. I am very thorough so despite my long commitment, I still had some work left to be done by the end of the day.

I neglected to eat for a good chuck of the day and by the time I did get around to eating, I didn’t feel to good for a while for a while digesting that food.  Not 100% sure of the cause, but I am definitely not holding off eating again that long.

Had been able to converse with my close friend fortunately later at night, so late I needed to get out of my tent and walk towards the school behind the church so I wouldn’t disturb the other people tenting near me.  I tried not to pay too much attention to the strange circled driving in the parking lot between the school and the church, but I completely got distracted by the sillyness I was witnessing.  At first I was thinking it was drunk driving, but it was more likely just test driving in the middle of the night. We had not one but two conversations, not because of the lack of service as usual, but because of a favor she was asked by her sister.  She then asked me to call her back in 40ish minutes, since she easily gets distracted. I know red flag, but this sort of behavior is in her nature, at least from what had gathered over the years. After calling her a goldfish, for easily getting distracted and waiting 40ish minutes, I called her back.  I didn’t have too much to say. I simply wanted to hear her voice.  Conversation is sometimes hard as a hiker when you feel you have been experiencing the same old same old for the day to day for what feels like forever. I no longer feel I am sharing new and exciting things, especially to a person who is out of the loop with life on the trail. She may have felt the same way for me as well since I had been out of the loop on society, but then again I am usually the one talking anyway, soceity or not.  At times she makes me feel like I am the only one in the world, but just as easily the opposite will take place, almost as if she is uncertain of her emotions.  Just as in the beginning of my hike, time wise, I can tell she is flattered, but not at all if she is interested.  With all of the apparent red flags, I would be a fool to assume she is interested, but hopeful as I am, I continue to fall.  That vulnerable feeling when you realize how far you’ve already fallen.

 

Day 114 (Mile 1568.5 – 1577.5)

Mr. Levardi made us all breakfast!received_344087079355983

Levardi’s Cat20170807_082552

The plan was to watch Game of Thrones and talk to my close friend in Dalton, but with the lack of service, I was unable to do so.  Cheshire, MA being my next destination, I continued on to the next town, and decided to take a nero there.  Luckily and suprisingly for me though, I had service in Cheshire so I didn’t need to hang around a hotspot while in town.

Stayed in the lawn of the St. Mary of the Assumption Church.  They allow hikers to stay over night on the lawn and chill inside during the day.20170807_152958

A guy (Pheasant Melon) made a tinder soley to get a ride into town to get food.  I am more shocked that it worked. She picked up him along with three other guys, Dozer and Umbrella Face included. I sorta wished I tagged along, but I wanted to be sure not to miss conversation with my close friend.

It was supoosed to rain today, but the weather kept getting pushed further and further.  It did rain, but not until late that evening.

Dunkin Doughnuts walking distance!  I have a pretty good feeling I will no longer eat this type of food post trail, so mind as well enjoy it while the costs are minimum to my body in this state.20170807_190959

I don’t remember the reason, but my close friend never got around to calling me.  I do remember getting upset, especially since we arranged a time. If no time was arranged, I wouldn’t care.  I personally do not like people waiting on me so if I knew for some reason I would miss or be late to an arrangement, I would at least notify the other party before the arranged time.

Day 113 (Mile 1548.1 – 1568.5)

Pancakes and coffee in the morning!  Ken and his family, the carecakers were phenomenal!  He made pancakes literally until everyone was satisfied. I had four myself!  It was baffling the amount of blueberries the south bounders had gathered for the pancakes. Those blueberries were so on point. Best blueberry pancakes ever consumed. Solid 7/7. 👌🏼20170806_07054520170806_063633

Feels exactly like a fall morning up here. It is starting to realy get chilly. I question my decision that Hanover, NH was the best place to pick up my winter gear.  The remainder of the day felt exactly like a fall day. It was one of the most beautiful bug free days I have hiked in a while.

Ran into the couple through hiking the trail with the infant. I read about them in a Backpack’s magazine before leaving for the trail in April.20170806_131349

Stayed the night at Levardi’s in Dalton, MA. A guy that lets through hikers tent in his back yard.20170806_180918

Finished “Outliers” in less than 24 hours (It is a 7 hour book). Very well written book. His point throughout the book is on point. Ha. Certainly undercovered a perspective I have never thought in before. I wouldn’t say this is a must read, but it is a very good one. It opens the mind a little more.  Moving on to next book!  Crushing miles and books is an overwhelmingly great feeling (even though I am simply only listening). I cannot remember a time I was this truely happy.

After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers” is it wrong of me to no longer feel guilty of taking advantage (make use of) of my parent’s wealth? I thought before that taking advantage of my parent’s support was a something that would stunt my growth and to an extent I believe that is still true.  With too much support, one will be unable to support and grow themselves. I now better understand the importance of an opportunity.  I want to be completely independent, but that will be much harder if I do not take full advantage of the opportunities/resources that are available to me.

Don’t misinterpreted please. I am not going to ‘live it up’ on my parent’s support. I am going to take advantage of their advantages available to me to support myself. For example:

-Take advantage of the money available to futher my education.
– Legal help
– Temporary shelter
– Connections

I am also more aware of my other advantages in the world and I am going to take full advantage of those advantages as well.  What are those advantages?  To be blunt, being a white straight male.  One should certainly be aware of one’s opportunities, but not let another’s critism hold you back for taking advantage of your opportunities.  Let the others be jealous.  No need to hold yourself back for feeling guilty of those advantages.  One can’t control the world they were born in to. If another, less fortunate were in your shoes, they would be taking full advantage of the opportunities that may not normally be available for them. If you want to get ahead, yes work harder, but also take advantage of very opportunity that comes your way. Be greatful for those opportunities.

Side note:
While listening to an audio book I already feel as if I am hearing distant chatter just ahead, but when the chatter doesn’t get louder I am puzzled. I may be hearing things. There is also the possibility I am just behind a group of fast paced hikers all the time…but all the time?  Maybe the wind can speak.

 

 

Day 112 (Mile 1527 – 1548.1):

In the ice gluch, ravine looking crevice, I saw a porcupine!  I apologize for blurriness, this is as close as I could get.20170805_11125820170805_111110

20170805_113852

Finished Ben Sasse’s book, “The Vanishing American Adult.” While I very much support his solutions and the book overall, he closes in my opinion very poorly. He comes off as if he is selling himself. I appreciate his standing, but propaganda was not needed for the message to get across. I cridged a little listening to the end.  Would I recommend this book?  Yes, I would but with the warning that he closes the book with his own propaganda.

20170805_15412420170805_172307

Started “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. So far so good. Everything I’d expect from a book called, Outliers.Screenshot_20170805-193438

I get the feeling this tire has been here for a while. 20170805_171727

Made it to the Upper Goose Cabin later than planned but made it!  There were tons of people here. All 16 bunks were taken, which didn’t matter too much to me since it wasn’t not raining out.  The people running this place are super nice!20170805_195525

Fortunately, I had service here so I called the close friend I have been referring to this entire trip. For pretty much obvious reasons, I am going to keep her anonymous. Very much an enjoyable conversation. =)

Side Note:20170805_111626

 

 

 

Day 111 (Mile 1506.4 – 1527):

20170804_112744

This day was a bad day to trust the weather forcast.  It down poured a total of four times today. First time, I wore my rain coat, next times I didn’t see the point.  The only bad part about the rain despite obviously being wet, was the rocky terrain. I needed to be extra careful. One misstep can equal being off the trail for good.

I have never seen this anywhere else on the trail, but it certainly helped with the current conditions of the trail.20170804_121721

Some trail magic, I assume for the south bounders, because it was certainly not dry south of me.20170804_12522620170804_145334

Family of wild turkeys. First time I have gotten them on camera, for they are more common than one would think. 20170804_154340

Not too pumped to wear wet clothes the following day.

Past some more farm land today…here’s some cows!20170804_144347

Side Notes:
– Mosquitoes still really bad.
– If it wasn’t raining, I’d sweat the bug spray off in a good 30 minutes. I don’t even know why I am carrying it still.

 

Day 110 (Mile 1484.3 – 1506.4)

20170803_134748

The goal for day was to make it into Massachusetts and I certainly accomplished that goal!  Was expecting a sign though.  Maybe I’ll see one later down the trail tomorrow.

Finished Thomas Friedman’s book, “Thank You For Being Late.”  I appreciate the recommendation, David Madison.  We can talk more about the book in person. There is something I believe he left out that will be very important in the years to come.

Started that book Uncle Buck recommended me, “The Vanishing American Adult” by Ben Sasse. So far it has been really good.  I see why Uncle Buck recommended me this book. I agree with 100% of it thus far.Screenshot_20170803-164037

20170803_145510

1500!20170803_16282820170803_164007

Had a very nice conversation with a southbounder in his early 60s on top of Bear Mountain. His name I believe was Rusty.20170803_183729

 

 

Day 109 (Mile 1476.8 – 1484.3)

20170802_111531

I certainly did not go far today, but I would like to think the reason is a valid one. As soon as I made it to my lunch destination, it started to downpour. I fortunately did not get wet, but I also didn’t hike the reminder of the day, even when it had died down around 6:30pm.  Even though I didn’t get wet, I did get biten quite a lot staying the night in that shelter. I do not think I slept longer than an hour. The constant buzzing in the ears drove me crazy. Worst of all, I was hot that night and the seemingly only way to aviod the mosquitoes was to be constantly covered.  I thought there would be less and less mosquitoes going north, but it is turning out that might be the opposite case.  I have a feeling it is because of all the natural ponds and lakes up here.  Anyway, I will not be staying in a shelter even if it is raining, for a while. Tenting all the way!

Oh just in case I have not mentioned it yet on the blog, when there are a pile of sticks in the way of a path, it means that path is not part of the trail.  I have personally found it to be much more effective than a turning white blaze, since the majority of the time hikers look at their feet.

20170802_140440