Beaker

Beaker Into Rangley

Beaker continues to make progress through the beautiful state of Maine on his journey through the 14 states that comprise the Appalachian Trail.

7/29/17 Destination: Hikers Hut, Rangely, ME   9.4 miles today

Beaker_2017The 9.4 mile nero day into Rangely was ushered in with beautiful weather. Beaker is hoping the nero-day will give Sitting Bull, Hoops, and others time to catch up. Beaker seemed to be the first hiker out of camp and the designated webwalker, clearing the spider webs off the trail. He was happy to pass an early rising SOBO hiker going the other direction, knowing that this comrade had cleared the webs ahead.

The Hiker Hut (hostel) is only 0.2 miles off the the trail but about 5 miles outside Rangely. It is also off the grid meaning there is no electricity, plumbing, indoor shower or WIFI. Steve, the proprietor, shuttled Beaker into town, where he was able to get lunch, go to the library and print off a legal document his wife needed him to sign, mail the letter, go to an outfitter store and replace a couple pieces of broken/worn out gear, and get some ice cream. Steve picked him up later in the day and made a stop at a local grocery for a resupply.  

When Beaker got back to the Hiker Hut, he repaired the outside mesh pockets on his backpack. Our equipment is beginning to get tired, too. I just have to get to Mt Katahdin. I can then figure out what needs replaced before I finish the Virginia portion.

7/30/17 Destination: Spaulding Mountain Lean-to. Miles today: 18.7

Beaker Saddleback in Background

Saddleback Mountains Loom Ahead

Beaker was up and on the trail by 6:15 am. Another beautiful day.  Beaker hiked over the Saddleback Range which included 4 miles above treeline. I never tire of the views above treeline. It’s just incredible. You feel like you are on top of the world.

Although the Saddlebacks are fairly strenuous, Beaker was able to hammer out 18.7 miles, a distance that has not been covered since entering the Whites. The terrain continues to be rocky, rooty, and boggy, but he hopes to do the same mileage tomorrow and set a pace to summit Katahdin on August 12.

Beaker passed Poplar Ridge Lean-to today and was painfully aware that this was the last hut visited by Inchworm in 2013. Inchworm, a thru-hiker, got lost in the woods and it was not until 2015 that her remains were found in her tent, having died from exposure and starvation. Passing the actual spot where this took place was very sad and moving.

7/31/17 Destination: Horns Pond Lean-to;  Today’s hike: 18.6 miles;  Miles to Katahdin: 183.1; Miles to complete his thru-hike: 501.

Beaker. Horns Pond

Horns Pond

Beaker was on the trail by 6:15 motivated by his ambitious agenda for the trail today. He started out by climbing over Spaulding Mountain, then Sugarloaf. The descent off of Sugarloaf down to the Carrabassett River proved to be quite steep and rocky. At one point, I stepped on a rock which turned under my foot, sending me to the ground. I went down hard on a pointy rock on my left quad, causing a deep bruise. I expect it’s going to be pretty stiff in the morning….[The trail in Maine is] the most physically demanding thing most of us have ever done. All of us take multiple spills every day. I am surprised that more people don’t get seriously injured, to be quite honest.

After crossing the Carrabassett River, Beaker started the long and steep climb up South Crocker Mountain. Part way up the mountain, he joined Misplaced, a 30 year old woman Beaker had previously met on the trail. They ended up hiking the rest of the afternoon together. He enjoyed the company of hiking along with someone else.

On the descent from the top of  North Crocker, the sky decided to open up and drenched them both. The road to Stratton, ME, sat at the bottom of the mountain. Arriving at the road, there was a man in a van dropping off two hikers. He asked if they needed ride to town. Yes! It was a quick five-mile ride into Stratton. Misplaced and Beaker went to the restaurant at the White Wolf Inn for a second lunch, followed by a quick trip to the grocery. They were back on the AT before 5:00 after a quick hitch to the trailhead. The 5.1-mile climb to Horns Pond Lean-to was muddy, but not too exhausting. They finally arrived around 7:30 and joined four other hikers in side by side huts. It was a tough day; but, a very good day. The plan for tomorrow involves more long miles over the Bigelow Mountains.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Maine, Rangley, Saddleback Mountain, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker – Slack Packing and Trail Blessing in Maine

7/26/17 Destination; Pine Ellis Hostel, Andover, ME     14.9 miles today

It was a clear but cold night making it very hard for Beaker to get out of his warm tent this morning. Another thing that slowed me down this morning was my tired body. Yesterday’s hike left me a bit stiff and sore. I took a pretty good fall onto my left hip, leaving it feeling bruised today. …. all of us NOBOs are getting weary. Not just tired, which you can recover from after a day’s rest, but weary.  Beaker’s friend Antman, who is 25-30 years his younger, has decided to leave the trail for a while to rest up and try to gain some weight. He’s down to 133 lbs and just not feeling enthusiastic about the trail.

Today’s 15-mile hike was actually quite nice. The cloudless skies called Beaker to break out his sunglasses. He climbed up and over Old Speck Mountain, dropped down to Grafton Notch, climbed again to the summit of the West Peak of Baldpate Mountain, and finally another steep climb up the exposed East Baldpate Summit.

A 1,300 ft elevation descent over six miles to East B Hill Rd brought Beaker to a point of rest while he waited for a shuttle from Pine Ellis Hostel to pick him up. The arrangement was for a 5:45 meet time. Finally, at 6:40, a minivan arrived. The driver apologized for being so late. The hostel had sent her to the wrong road crossing. Beaker arrived at Pine Ellis Hostel, quickly showered, threw his clothes into the wash, and headed to the General Store/Diner to grab some dinner before they closed.

“Although this isn’t the nicest hostel I’ve visited, I’ve decided to do an 11 mile slack pack tomorrow and spend another night. I will still get another 11 miles in; but, I won’t be carrying the weight of my full pack and I’ll only spend about five or six hours hiking.”

7/27/17 Destination: Slack Pack back to Pine Ellis Hostel, Andover, ME Miles today 10.1

Beaker awoke to a steady rain at the hostel and seriously thought about just taking a full zero day and staying in bed. He decided to breakfast at the highly recommended Red Hen restaurant. While he was enjoying his meal, the rain stopped. So, he returned to the hostel, loaded up a daypack with a few essentials, and caught the 9:00 shuttle to the trailhead. This section of the AT was actually pretty tame. There was only one really steep climb, Moody Mountain, near the end of the hike. Beaker hiked most of the day with Wild Thing, a primary school teacher from the U.K. About a mile before the pick up point, darkening skies made good on their threats and started gushing with a steady rain. Fortunately, the slack packers arrived at the pick up point at the same time as the shuttle. They were quickly back at the refuge of Pine Ellis Hostel.

Beaker showered and got his wet clothes into the laundry. Around 5:30 several hikers from the hostel headed to the Red Hen for a Mexican Buffet, as did every hiker in a twenty mile radius, including Sitting Bull and Hoops! They had come off the trail at the same road crossing that Beaker had yesterday. So, they are 10 miles behind him, but they made plans to try to meet up in Rangely, ME, on Saturday.

7/28/17 Destination:Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to, ME 17.4 miles today

The shuttle dropped Beaker off at the AT trailhead 8:15. He started with a steep climb to the top of Old Blue Mountain, complete with vertical climbs, rebar rungs in the rock faces, and log ladders. Once reaching the top of Old Blue Mt, the trail terrain settled down a bit and the weather was perfect – full sun, light breezes, and temps in the 70s. The only real issue is that the trail is very rooty. The tree roots can be very slick and it’s easy to trip over them.

Late in the afternoon, about 13 miles into the hike, Beaker saw a handwritten sign announcing trail magic ahead. As he arrived the guy at the grill says, “Hey, Rusty! It’s about time you get here! We’ve been expecting you all afternoon.” Beaker was caught off-guard to be addressed by his real name since everyone uses trail names on the AT.

It turns out that Snowman and his wife Teddie drive 140 miles round trip weekly from Lewiston, ME, to do trail magic at this spot. It also turns out that they read my blog on TrailJournals. These guys really know how to put on trail magic – hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, blueberries, bananas, potato chips, and various snack cakes. Wow!

Beaker (Rusty) had another four miles to his destination so, he stuffed himself and then headed down the path. Shortly after heading out, he passed a SOBO wearing a UT hat and commented on it. The SOBO hiker stopped and said, “Wait! I’m supposed to give a message to a NOBO from Knoxville hiking in a kilt. 1st Sgt says to hurry and catch up.” In reality, the two friends are about 55 miles from one another.

Beaker arrived at Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to. The evening sun on the pond was tranquil and the tunes of the loons lifted his spirits. All in all, this ranks as one of the best days I’ve had on the trail.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Baldpate Mountains, Beaker, Maine, Slackpack, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Into Maine

7/23/17 Destination White Mt Hostel, Gorham, NH     8.4 miles today

911Another pretty day: a little overcast in the early morning but, it soon cleared into full sunshine. Beaker was packed and on the Appalachian Trail little after 7:00 am. He had a nero (near-zero) day planned – an 8-mile hike into the White Mountain Lodge and Hostel. The nero-day included a climb Mt Moriah, the last summit in the White Mountains National Forest.

About a mile into the hike, Beaker came upon Sitting Bull and Hoop’s stealth camp site. He stopped to visit for a few minutes and found out that they were scheduled to stay at the same hostel tonight.  

Arriving at the hostel Beaker received new trail runners that his wife, Marguerite, had ordered from REI and had shipped to the hostel. His last pair lasted a grand total of three weeks… three weeks! I told you the Whites were tough! They were blown out at the sides and ends of the toes and big chunks were missing from the soles. The remainder of the nero-day involved a resupply, a needed rest for the legs, and watching the weather for tomorrow – heavy rain in the forecast.  

7/24/17 Destination: Carlo Col Shelter, ME    16.9 miles today

Overcast skies, but no rain in the morning. Beaker decided to head out rather than take a zero day so he was walking 7:30. Sitting Bull and Hoops were still eating breakfast when he left; he passed Ramsey Bolton’s stealth camp about a mile into the hike – Ramsey was still asleep when Beaker passed.

Around 8:30, it started to sprinkle. Before long, it settled into a steady rain that lasted the rest of the day. Beaker was quickly soaked to the skin. Anytime he stopped for more than a few minutes he would start to get chilled. The trail is out of the Whites; but not out of the mountains. Today’s hike proved to be pretty tough… up, down, mud, rocks, rain…. I managed to take several spills today. Nothing serious. Just enough to get me wet and muddy.

Beaker. NH.ME lineThe highlight of the day Beaker crossed the Maine-New Hampshire border! He reached Carlo Col Shelter just after 6:00 pm, a long, slow day on the trail. The shelter was packed.  All five wooden tent pads were occupied by what appears to be a French Canadian youth group.  Beaker set up his tent on a sloping piece of ground near the shelter. The temperature is in the low 40s, the wind is rattling the tent, and the rain is pelting down. It feels more like March than July. At least I am safe, warm, and dry in my cozy tent. I can’t wait to put on those wet hiking clothes in the morning…

7/25/17 Destination: Speck Pond Shelter, ME   9.5 miles today

For some reason, I thought that once we finished the White Mountains it would be a cruise to Mt Katahdin. Wrong! I hiked 9.5 miles today and it was a full day.

Beaker awoke to rain but by the time he hit the trail, the rain had tailed off and the clouds actually began to thin. By afternoon, he was hiking in full sunshine. The  trail was still a muddy, the rocks were still wet and slick, and Beaker lost count of how many times I went down. Most of the falls were slow and fairly controlled. I had one pretty bad fall on my left hip which left it pretty bruised and tender, though.

Mahoosuc Nothch

A Small Taste of Mahoosuc Notch

The climbs continued to be steep, with sections where rebar steps were embedded in the vertical rock face. Beaker stopped for lunch at the Full Goose Shelter. After lunch is when the real fun began – the Mahoosuc Notch and the Mahoosuc Arm. The Mahoosuc Notch is a mile long narrow gorge with steep, high boulders and rocks of assorted sizes and shapes creating a natural obstacle course on steroids. You have to scramble over, under, and around these boulders as you pick your way through the notch. Upon completing the Mahoosuc Notch, Beaker was immediately faced another obstacle – the Mahoosuc Arm.   It is a climb gaining over 1500 feet of elevation over 0.9 miles. There were many sections that were almost straight up. At the top of Mahoosuc Arm, it was a short hike to Speck Pond Shelter.

 

Mahoosuc Notch Photo found at georgiatomaine2012.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/710-mahoosuc-notch-trail/
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Moriah, New Hampshire, The Whites, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Over Mount Washington

7/21/17 Destination: The Barn Hostel, Gorham, NH   15.0 miles today

Beaker in fog at Mt Washington

Climbing Mt. Washington in the fog

The thru hikers were up and out of the dining room by 6:30 AM when the paying guests were awakened by the croo at he Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Beaker waited until breakfast was completed and then ate the leftovers. He purposely did not get started hiking until 9:30 in hopes that the mist would burn off the summit of Mt. Washington. Unsuccessful, he climbed the 1.5 miles to the summit in a heavy fog. When he reached the summit, he was assaulted by many tourists arriving in cars, buses, and the cog railroad. He didn’t hang around long at the summit. “Of course, as soon as I left the summit, the fog dissipated and left the summit in full sun.”   

Beaker arrived at the Madison Spring Hut around 2:00 PM and had soup and baked goods for lunch again. Then he climbed to the summit of Mt. Madison – another incredibly steep climb up a boulder field. Finally, after the summit of Mt. Madison, he began to descend – a drop of 3000 ft over the next seven miles. Eventually, he reached Pinkham Notch a little after 7:00 PM , totally spent. He called and booked a bunk in the Barn Hostel in Gorham. There, he was amazed to reconnect with Antman (hadn’t seen him since Franklin, NC), Ramsey Bolton, Hummingbird (hadn’t seen him since Partnership Shelter in Southern Virginia); and got a text from Sitting Bull and Hoops who were just a few hours behind him and were planning to hike to Pinkham Notch yet that evening. Unfortunately, he’s pretty much given up on catching 1st Sgt before Katahdin.

7/22/17 Destination: Imp Campsite, NH   13.4 miles today

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carter Notch Hut from Wildcat Peak A

Beaker was back on the trail at 8 am,  with only a 13.4-mile hike planned to the Imp Campsite; but, it was going to be a tough 13 miles! He had to cross the four Wildcat peaks and Carter Mountain range and it involved a lot of climbing. A LOT of climbing. The mountains were so steep that Beaker collapsed his hiking poles and put them in his pack so that he had his hands free for climbing. Today’s path didn’t go above treeline. The weather was somewhat cloudy; but, no rain. The trail descended off the last Wildcat peak down to the Carter Notch Hut 1200 ft below and then climbed 1500 ft straight back up. Beaker was able to take a break at the hut and have his last lunch of soup and baked goods before leaving the Whites. He struggled up and over Carter Dome, down through Zeta Pass and back up and over South, Middle, and North Carter Mountains.

Beaker in Kilt Above Tree line

Beaker above tree line in his kilt

Then came the descent off North Carter. It was the steepest descent Beaker experienced yet on the trail. There were vertical sections where he had to sit down and slide – not so easy, especially since he hikes in a kilt! “It’s the first time I’ve felt skittish  hiking. I’m glad I wasn’t doing it in the rain.”

He eventually made it to Imp Campsite – pretty full of hikers. He heard from Sitting Bull and  Hoops who stealth camped on the approach trail to the shelter. He will pass them on his way out of camp in the morning.

Carter Notch Photo from http://www.peakbagger-paul.com/carters2/carters2.htm
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, Mount Katahdin, Mount Madison, Mount Washington, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Hiking the Whites

Beaker the chemist from West Virginia continues his NOBO hike of the Appalachian Trail.

7/18/17 – Destination: Galehead Hut 14.1 miles today

Beaker, Above Tree LineBeaker woke up this morning at The Notch Hostel in North Woodstock, New Hampshire with 373 miles of trail before reaching Mount Katahdin. It was a beautiful day on the trail. Sitting Bull and Hoops had to wait for packages at the post office, so Beaker left on the 7:45 AM shuttle to the trailhead. It took him two hours to climb the 2.3 miles to Franconia Ridge. As he neared the top of the ridge, the trees began to thin out. He finally broke out of the tree line for the first time to a spectacular vista. “The ridge stretched out in front of me, with the AT running along the spine. It was rugged and beautiful. The White Mountains are the toughest hiking we’ve done on the trail; but, the views are spectacular.”

LD_Galehead

Galehead Hut

Beaker had hopes of staying in the Huts along the trail in the White Mountains. The huts are manned by “croos” of college age kids. They also allow a couple of thru hikers to “work for stay” every night. In exchange for cabin chores, thru hikers get to eat leftover food and are allowed to sleep on the floor. There is a bit of an art to getting chosen for work for stay. If you arrive too early in the day, they send you on your way. If you arrive too late, they’ve already filled the spots. Beaker arrived too late at the Galehead Hut. The head of the croo did tell him about a nice stealth spot nearby. Beaker joined six others in their tents.  

7/19/17 Destination: Crawford Notch Campground, NH  14.6 today

Another beautiful day. Beaker was up and hiking by 7:30. His hike began with a near vertical climb to the summit of South Twin Mountain but he was rewarded with one of the most incredible views in the Whites. “In all directions, all I could see was row upon row of mountains. Mount Washington…was especially prominent on the horizon.

Around noon, Beaker arrived at Zealand Falls Hut and stopped in for a bowl of soup and some baked goods. The rest of the afternoon was spent on a painful descent each step pounding on his sore knees into Crawford Notch. Beaker realized that he was extremely tired, even though he had only hiked 14.6 miles. Mileage drastically slows down in the Whites.

He arrived with Jailbird, another graybeard hiker that Beaker has been hiking around with the past couple of days. They found out that the whole area was part of a state park and camping was forbidden. They were able to hitch a ride to a nearby campground. Discovering the camp had single room cabins, they chose actual beds, electricity, and a roof.  

7/20/17 Destination: Lakes of the Clouds Hut, NH     11.1 miles today

Beaker.Lakes of the Clouds

Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Jailbird and Beaker awoke at 5:00 and were ready to leave by 6 am.  The problem was that they were 3.3 miles from the trailhead and on a country road. The owner of the campground came out and said he’d run them up to the trailhead. They were on the trail by 7:00 and started climbing immediately. It was a typical White Mountain climb – long and steep, with several portions of hand over hand climbing. At least, the weather was beautiful and the views were incredible.

Beaker reached the Mitzpah Spring Hut around 11 am and bought lunch. The next goal was the summit of Mt Pierce. The trees dropped away just before the summit and exposed the stark beauty of the alpine environment.  Beaker arrived at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut at 2 pm. It is located about 1.5 miles and 1200 ft below the summit of Mt. Washington. But it is another 7 miles to Madison Hut and there was nowhere to camp in between. Beaker decided to stay and inquired about work for stay; The woman at the desk said that he could pay $10 and sleep on the floor of the dining room. So, that’s what he did.

Photo Galehead: http://adventuretravel.about.com/b/2013/04/07/amc-huts-125th-anniversary-30-percent-off-hut-to-hut-hike-trips.htm
Other Photos from Beaker’s blog: http://www.trailjournals.com/journal/entry/572461

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Galehead Hut, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, Mount Washington, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Marching Through Vermont

20140808-090947.jpgBeaker’s hike on the Appalachian Trail from July 5 – 12 have been filled with the state of Vermont. The highlight of the 5th of July was completing Massachusetts and entering the Green Mountain State. He hiked into Vermont just after noon on the 5th and encountered patches of thick, squishy, black mud that stretched across the trail, making it impossible to go around, thus personally recognizing why thru-hikers have dubbed this state “Vermud”.

July 6 – Beaker legged out a whopping 25.8 miles trek today ending at a stealth site about 16 miles from Manchester Center, VT (his destination for July 7). He pushed himself today in order to give himself as much time as possible in town the next day for resupply. The hike was long but not without some adversity – “The mud continues unabated. I got up close and personal with it today when I was crossing a particularly wet and mucky patch. Both feet slipped as I stepped between two rocks in the middle of the mud patch and I plopped my butt right down into it.”

Green Mt HostelJuly 7 – Beaker had to start the day with a 2000 ft climb over Mount Stratton. Coming off the mountain he came face-to-face with Mudpuppy (the wife) and Woodcutter (the husband) from Albany, New York, who had driven 2 ½ hours just to meet him on the trail. Having never met before, they have been following him online and wanted to encourage him. They brought food and drink. Beaker still had 13 miles into town so after a short visit, he departed with their blessing. When Beaker got to Vt 11, he would still had a 5-mile hitch into Manchester Center. Arriving at the road, he was greeted once again by Mudpuppy and Woodcutter ready to drive him anywhere he wanted to go. What a great day of blessing as he finally settled in at the Green Mountain House Hostel, Manchester Center, Vermont.

July 8 – The Green Mountain Hostel rates up there as one of the best I’ve stayed in on the whole trail. It is immaculate and Jeff is very friendly and accommodating. Plus, he sells pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for $2.00. Incredible!

Todays’ hike: 19.6 miles up and over Bromley Mountain. The top of Bromley is a ski slope and after the summit, the rest of the day was pretty much down hill. The weather did decide to rain during the morning hours but the afternoon was sunny and dried things up nicely. Today’s destination was Little Rock Pond Shelter and less than a mile from the shelter, the skies got dark, the winds picked up and then the sound of distant rain… heavy rain. In a matter of moments, Beaker was soaked to the skin. Of course, by the time he reached the shelter the sun was back out.

July 9 – 24 miles today all the way to Cooper Lodge on Killington Mountain, Vermont. Beaker woke up this morning on Little Rock Pond. He describes it, “The sun was rising over the ridge behind the lake and shining through the gently swirling mist. The water was lapping against the shore and the pines were gently swaying in the light breeze. Then I heard it – the sound I had looked forward to hearing before I ever started this hike – loons! What a unique and evocative sound.” The call of the water birds echoed in his mind as he set out for a day filled with constant ups and downs. But the last 4 miles was a major up-hill to the top of Killington Mountain. Beaker did not arrive until 8:00. He immediately pitched his tent and crashed for the night.  

July 10 – Beaker’s destination for today was The Inn at Long Trail, a 8.3-mile descent from Cooper Lodge. Beaker then caught a bus into Rutland, VT for a resupply. Beaker heard from 1st Sgt today. He has been crushing the miles and is almost 90 miles ahead. It does not look good for a reunion on the trail.

Ladder in VTJuly 11 – Another 20+ mile day for Beaker as he hiked to Dan Quinn’s Barn at VT 12, close to Woodstock, VT, for a total of 21.6 miles. As he hiked past Kent Pond early in the morning he was attacked by an army of mosquitoes. He detoured into the town of Killington in order to replace the tips on his hiking poles and to catch a second breakfast (Dove Ice Cream Bars). At one point during the day he came to a 14 ft aluminum ladder affixed to the rock face so he could successfully climb down a 20 ft vertical drop. He finally reached the barn around 7:30 PM – he spent a dry night by himself.

July 12 – The day was sunny perfect for a long walk. Beaker responded with another 21-mile hike to Norwich on the Vermont/New Hampshire border. After leaving the Long Trail (close to Rutland), the Appalachian Trail stops running parallel to the ridges and now travels perpendicular to them resulting in lots of ups and downs. Despite the hills, Beaker was pleased to find an open spot in a home/hostel owned by past thru-hikers to spend the night before entering the White Mountains and the state of New Hampshire.

Photo of hostel found at http://hiker-bigtex.com/hostels-hotels-2/green-mountain-house-hostel/
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Cooper Lodge Shelter, Manchester Center, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker on the Trail After July 2

Beaker, the Chemist from West Virginia, took a few days off the trail to visit his wife at their new home in Knoxville, TN. From June 26 until July 2 his life was filled with the honey do list that often accompanies a new home, finding some new, lighter shoes for the trail, and resupplying for the adventure ahead.

7/3/17

Beaker_2017Beaker flew to Albany, NY, and was met at the airport by his high school friend Linda, her sister, and her niece. They went to dinner at a local pizza place in nearby Bennington, VT while visiting and catching up on the 30 years since they had seen one another. July 4th holds a return to the trail and a climb over the highest peak in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock.

7/4/17  Today’s hike totaled 17.6 miles from Dalton to Mt. Greylock, MA

After a great breakfast of farm fresh eggs, bacon, and French toast, Linda drove Beaker back to the Shamrock Inn in Dalton, MA. Hiker hunger called his name around noon, “Before starting up Mt Greylock, though, I dropped down the back side of Cheshire Cobble into the town of Cheshire, MA. I happened to walk right past an ice cream/sandwich shop at noon. So, naturally, I stopped for a ham and Swiss on rye and a chocolate shake.”

Mt GreylockCheshire, MA nestles within the valley of the Hoosic River at 970 ft. Mount Greylock stands tall at 3489 ft so over the course of 7 ½ miles Beaker climbed 2519 ft. It is not the most difficult uphill on the AT or even the most demanding Beaker has encountered so far on his adventure, but it is a long uphill grade taking most of his afternoon. Arriving at the summit of Mt. Greylock, Beaker was impressed by the War Memorial Lighthouse and the rustic Bascom Lodge. He decided to get a bunk at the lodge for the night, hoping that the next three days will be 20+ milers as he tries to catch back up with 1st Sgt. and the rest of his trail friends.

“I think the week off was just what I needed. My feet are all healed up and appear to be working just fine in my trail runners. Also, I really enjoyed being back in the woods. Tomorrow – Vermont!”

7/5/17  Today’s trek: 22.9 miles Mt. Greylock to Harmon Hill, VT

Beaker found a beautiful day for hiking: clear blue skies and highs in the upper 70s. He got an earlier start, ate his breakfast from his food bag and headed down the path before 7:00 AM. He hiked off Mt. Greylock and down to Williamstown, MA, where he had second breakfast at the Stop N Shop. “It was located about 0.5 miles off-trail. I typically won’t go that far off-trail for waterfalls and overlooks unless they are spectacular; however, I’ll gladly do it for second breakfast. I’m going to miss second breakfast when I am done hiking and start eating like a normal person again.”  

VerMUD

VerMud

Beaker put in some great mileage today. Unfortunately, 1st Sgt. has been putting in the miles slackpacking while his wife is visiting him on the trail, so Beaker has a challenge ahead in trying to catch him. The highlight of the day was completing Massachusetts and entering another state. He crossed into Vermont just after noon. The nickname for Vermont on the AT is “Vermud”. Almost as soon as he crossed the border, the nickname became obvious. He encountered big patches of thick, squishy, black mud sometimes stretching across the trail, making it impossible to go around.

 

Vermud photo example found at http://www.trailjournals.com/journal/entry/505240
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Dalton, MA, Massachusetts, Mt Greylock, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker – From Massachusetts to Knoxville

Beaker and 1st Sgt Back TogetherBeaker and 1st Sgt, are still hiking through the wonderful state of Massachusetts. On June 24 they traveled 15.8 miles making their way to a favorite spot of many thru-hikers – Upper Goose Pond Cabin. The cabin is owned by the National Park Service and is managed by the Appalachian Mountain Club. It offers hikers bunks with mattresses, a fantastic lake for swimming and canoeing, and best of all pancakes for breakfast (a great memory of mine). Squire, a fellow hiker,  and his two sons Stretch and Remix (14 and 12 years old) arrived at the cabin late that night after putting in a 25 mile day. Beaker and 1st Sgt. had a pleasant visit with them over the breakfast flapjacks. Continue reading

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Dalton, MA, Knoxville, Thru-Hike, Trail Magic, Upper Goose Pond Cabin | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Churns the Miles Part 2

1st Sgt. Climbing Rocks in NY

June 12, 2017 –  Five miles of New Jersey trail brought Beaker and 1st Sgt. into a new state, New York, but the continued rocks and the 90+ degree temperatures made the hike difficult. June 13th brought the same terrain and heat. Part of Beaker’s journal reveals the dangers of the Appalachian Trail, “Today was one of the toughest I’ve experienced out here in quite awhile. We are into our third day of heat in the 90+ degree range. That kind of heat just seems to sap all the energy right out of you. As soon as we started hiking, 1st Sgt and I were drenched in sweat…. We spent our second day scrambling up and down over big rocks, sometimes slowing down to a crawl as we negotiated climbs or steep descents. …..these ascents made for dangerous hiking. A young college aged hiker we know named Snooze took a nasty tumble off a particularly tricky climb. His backpack took the brunt of the impact; however, he still ended up with scrapes and a fairly ugly puncture wound on his right calf. Passing hikers helped his sister Sauce patch him up, so by the time we saw them he was doing pretty well. I did insist on examining and cleaning the wound when we got to the shelter tonight. Everyone in the shelter gathered around to watch the show. They were all pretty amazed when I pulled out a set of nitrile gloves. I also told him he needs to get the wound checked when we get to town tomorrow.

The third day of hiking the NY path led the hikers over Bear Mountain and down the other side to the Trailside Zoo, the lowest point on the AT. The next day, June 15, Beaker and 1st Sgt. hiked across the Hudson River via the Bear Mountain Bridge as part of their 20-mile hike ending at Clarence Farhnestock State Park, where thru-hikers get one free night of camping. June 16th was a cooler day in the 60s with a soft breeze that ended with a rain shower about ½ mile from the shelter. Beaker and 1st Sgt. arrived at Morgan Stewart Shelter without being too wet.

Dover Oak

June 17 was the last full day in New York and the path directed Beaker and 1st Sgt. past three great landmarks on the AT: Nuclear Lake (there was a plutonium research facility located here from the 1950s to the 1970s. They experienced an explosion that contaminated the lake and surrounding shoreline. It was remediated years ago and the facility is long gone. What’s left is a beautiful lake, teeming with fish, geese, and beaver.), Dover Oak (the tallest oak on the Appalachian Trail – 114 feet tall, 20 feet think, and about 300 years old), and the train station at Pawling, New York (this functioning train station is designed for NYC folks to catch a ride to the woods and enjoy the beauty of the canopy).

By the end of the day on June 18th, New York was in the books and Connecticut was under foot. Beaker hiked two 19+ mile days followed by a Nero-day of 4 miles to arrive at Salisbury, CT. His feet were extremely tender and even though he is an EMT, he needed to see a doctor for proper diagnosis. Parts of his journal record it best, June 20 – I believe that days of wet feet and staying at less than reputable hotels may have led to vesicular athlete’s foot. It’s not quite like the common athlete’s foot between your toes. It tends to occur under the thick skin on the soles of your feet. I also think the constant moisture and sweaty socks may have led a secondary bacterial infection. As a result, my feet are very sore and swollen…. The doctor…. did a thorough history and exam and most of all confirmed my diagnosis. He suggested I take several days off to rest my feet. However, having treated thru hikers in the past, he knew that wasn’t happening. He then gave me antibiotics and antifungals and suggested I change out my socks as often as possible.

The Ledges of Mount Race

Beaker and 1st Sgt. took a much needed zero-day in Salisbury to give some rest and healing time for their feet. They hiked a modest 12.7 miles on June 22, but left Connecticut and entered the marvelous state of Massachusetts. They hiked over Bear Mountain (in Connecticut), Mount Race with its incredible view from the ledges, and Mount Everett, which only seems like Mount Everest. The feet felt 1000 times better according to Beaker, who demonstrates such a positive attitude.

June 23 involved a 19.6 mile hike and a real test for the feet. Beaker records at the end of the day, “We are tired and our feet are also tired; but, our feet are actually doing better. Talking to other thru hikers, it appears that all our bodies are beginning to break down. Luckily, only 650 miles to Katahdin and I hear it’s all downhill!” I appreciate his attitude and sense of humor, two keys to completing a thru-hikes.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Connecticut, Dover Oak, Mount Everett, Mount Race, Nuclear Lake, NY, Thru-Hike, Zoo | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Burning Up the Miles

Beaker, the chemist from Morgantown West Virginia, jumped off trail on April 13 close to the Partnership Shelter near Marion, Virginia, in order to return to the hills of West Virginia, pack up his entire house, and move to Knoxville, Tennessee. He spent about two weeks in “Almost Heaven” getting packed up and then another 8 days in Knoxville getting unpacked and semi-situated in Tennessee before returning to the trail.

Instead of picking the trail up where he left it, he selected to reconnect with his hiking buddy, 1st Sergeant, at Rockfish Gap close to Waynesboro, Virginia. This is about 326 miles farther north which Beaker plans to hike after they make it to Mount Katahdin, Maine. He and 1st Sergeant hit the trail on May 8th and began to put some huge miles on their legs. The two adventurers hiked 17 days straight covering 283 miles, including one 29

Beaker and First Sergeant Half Way

.5 mile day!

Beaker and 1st Sergeant arrived at Harpers Ferry on May 15 (the home of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the psychological half-way point of the trail). They stormed ahead and arrived at Pine Grove Furnace, PA (the actual half-way point) on May 21. The traditional half-gallon challenge (eating a half gallon of ice-cream to celebrate the half-way point) was turned into just a bowl of ice cream while observing a few other hikers engulfing the tasty treat.

The Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA was reached on May 24. The Doyle Hotel is another AT icon. It was built in the early 1900s and has received no maintenance or cleaning since. It is, without a doubt, the rattiest hotel I have ever stayed in. It also has a bar on the first floor that makes great burgers and other assorted bar food.  We all gathered in the bar at the Doyle and had lunch. 

1st Sgt and I are getting off trail this weekend to visit our wives. His wife is flying in and meeting up with us to drive to Asheville. They will drop me off with Marguerite in Kingsport, TN, to spend the weekend in Knoxville. As a result, we’ve decided to stay at the Doyle to facilitate the process.” 

 

Beaker spent the next four days in Knoxville with his wife before meeting up with 1st Sergeant at the Doyle and continuing down the path on May 29. Sixteen miles later, the duo made camp at a stealth camp along the trail. The next two days were strong ones as the dynamic duo logged in 26.4 miles on the 30th and 19.2 miles on the last day of May. They find themselves with only a 9 miles trek into Port Clinton, PA – a town I know quite well, having spent 5 days there recuperating from cellulitis during my thru-hike in 2014.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Doyle Hotel, Half Gallon Challenge, Harpers Ferry, Hostel, Knoxville, PA, Pine Grove Furnace | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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